Ysu Umbalo’s journey to Lusaka, Zambia was not one he anticipated during his time at Warner Pacific University, but he accepted the call. Now an elder at Emmanuel Fellowship Ministries International (EFMI), he’s inviting other WPU alumni to support the work they are doing.

“I have spiritually blossomed at EFMI,” Umbalo said. “It is here where I see that what God started preparing me for is bearing beautiful fruit.”

Umbalo, a 1999 graduate and 2012 Distinguished Alumni Award recipient, first heard his calling while attending WPU.

He heard the “calling to become a missionary to (his) own people” on the WPU campus while praying for the nations.

“I was not a religion major, nor was it even a minor to me. But the chapels, the few religion courses, and different prayer/bible groups held on campus were enough to keep one on a good road,” Umbalo said.

After counsel from WPU religion professors and the Mt. Scott Church of God mission’s board, he took his first mission trip – to Mexico.

He took his second mission trip while he was attending the National College of Naturopathic Medicine in Portland.

“That mission trip was a medical excursion organized by Health Bridges International with Dr. Wayne Centrone,” Umbalo said. “In 2005, soon after I got married to my beautiful wife, I opened my private clinic in Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of Congo.”

With donations from friends and colleagues in the United States, and support from his parents, he was able to provide health care for people regardless of their ability to pay.

In 2018, he was asked to develop a naturopathic program in Lusaka, Zambia.

A year later, he and wife Therese along with their five children started attending EFMI. 

Umbalo said EFMI has a passion for the people.

“The bishop has thrown wide open the gates, inviting people to come and walk with us,” he said.

They have a vision of “reaching the unreached with the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, churching the unchurched by planting churches in our communities and cities.”

There are two branches of the church operating now, one in the eastern part of the country and one in the southern part of the country.

The COVID-19 pandemic affected the area starting in 2019 and the church, like most things, needed to close. Virtual services were not an option because of limited technology and access.

“By the time we reopened, we had lost over 50 percent of membership,” EFMI bishop Ackwell Mbalamweshi said. “And the membership we lost, they haven’t come back to church. People have just been running from here to there, they have not been properly settled with life ever since.”

They’ve had some success with outreach efforts though, such as entrepreneurial classes, and football events.

“There are still a lot of other things we can do to reach the community without the community resisting, especially when they see that you are opening something that is not just spiritual but also physical to impact on their lives,” Mbalamweshi said. “Right now, my team that works with me on the board are very proactive and each one of them is running with something.”

The team is hoping to work on a variety of social and community programs through its mission work.

Among those are initiatives to feed people, start a skills training center, build transit homes for vulnerable groups, curb teen pregnancy, establish waste collection, and set up periodic medical camps.

“EFMI has tremendously contributed to my ‘blossoming,’” Umbalo said. “But the Church facility itself does not reflect that beauty. The facelift is needed not just of the facility, but in every other aspect of the church life. And this is essentially what made me want to do something.”

The efforts seemed too large to do by himself, he said.

“That’s why now I reached out to the WPU family where I first heard or got the calling,” Umbalo said. “Praying and hoping that the Spirit who spoke to me then, would now come and complete what He started.”

If you are interested in helping EFMI, please connect with Ysu at doc.ysu@gmail.com