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Theology is part of nursing for NTC graduate Lizzie

Homepage Feature — 30th October 2018

Student Story: Lizzie Musekiwa

As a nurse who has worked with clients wrestling with mental illness or substance misuse, Lizzie Musekiwa is often met with baffled expressions when she mentions that she is studying theology.

“There’s a pastoral side to the work I do,” she points out. It was hard for her to see that, at first. Having studied nursing, when Lizzie entered the field, she wondered if she’d chosen the wrong vocation. When I started working in mental health after graduating, I found my niche working with substance misuse clients,” she says. “The meaningful interactions I had with people from all walks of life taught me a lot about the complexities of human life. I’m a curious person and like to find out about people’s lives. They’re so giving and they’ll share their experiences and sometimes even educate us nurses.”

However, she still felt incomplete. For a few years she searched for what was missing.

“Every time I started something, it didn’t come to fruition. I realized something was calling me. One day it hit me: It was theology that I wanted to study.”

After researching programs in the UK, Lizzie visited Nazarene Theological College (NTC). From the moment she set foot on the campus, she was impressed with the friendliness and openness of staff, faculty and students.

During an interview with Dr Joseph Wood, lecturer in Church History and Historical Theology, she mentioned that originally she is from Zimbabwe. He told her that a staff member is also from Zimbabwe – “I saw this woman greeting me in the Zimbabwean way,” Lizzie recalls. “Then we got to chat. I just knew it was the place for me. Even when I went to chapel, I could see myself there.”

In 2015, Lizzie enrolled in the Bachelor’s Degree in Theology, while continuing her work in mental health and supporting people ensnared in substance misuse.

“The first year [at NTC] was amazing. It was fun. Just the welcome, the warmth, I enjoyed everything about my first year.”

Several days a week she attended classes, chapel and other student activities. Outside of class, she continued working in health care in various cities to fund her studies and living costs. It was also important for her to keep working, because the theology she studied has direct application to her work.

“Theology is part of nursing,” she says. “It’s all about this physical-spiritual healing. Jesus heals people. He talked to them, he cared for them. He met people who had mental health and physical health issues. To me, in my own mind, it makes sense.”

Class discussions were among the best parts of her NTC experience. “Debating in the classroom with the students and lecturers – that openness to share one’s thoughts – that’s been a highlight. I’ll miss that.”

Balancing work and study became especially difficult in her third year. Lizzie began to slip behind in her assignments. She applied for an extension, and quit her job, both of which allowed her to complete her dissertation with her best efforts. She grins from ear to ear as she thinks about the mark she received on her dissertation, “Can Veneration of Ancestors in Sub-Saharan Africa Co-exist with Christianity?”

Lizzie has returned to work and is looking forward to graduating. She’s tempted to pursue a master’s degree, because she is not sure she has finished being a student. But she also wants to take time to reflect, and ensure it’s the right decision. “I’ve got lots of choices and that’s a beautiful place to be.”