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Africa University Inspires an Impassioned Love Poem

Joseph (Joe) Abram, Jr. is a man of many talents, including that of poet.

Before retiring in 2015, he served eleven churches in four appointments over a period of thirty-five years as an ordained Elder of the South Carolina Annual Conference.  In his retirement, he and his wife JoAnn own and manage a home improvement construction business, and he also co-owns with his son Joseph, III, a restaurant located in Marion, SC.

Joe was born and reared in Marion, SC, and attended both the United Methodist and Baptist churches in his neighborhood during his childhood because his father was United Methodist and his mother was Baptist.  Upon reaching adulthood, however, he chose to become a member of the United Methodist denomination.

JoAnn was born and reared in Orangeburg, SC, and is a life-long United Methodist.  She and Joe were married in 2010.  It is the second marriage for both of them, each having lost a spouse to death.  Their blended family consists of 8 adult children, 21 grandchildren, and 11 great-grandchildren.

Joe and JoAnn have both been long-time, generous supporters of Africa University since the mid-1990’s.  Joe’s first visit to the university took place in January 2014 when he traveled to Zimbabwe with a group of approximately thirty-two South Carolinians, including Bishop L. Jonathan Holston, Resident Bishop of the South Carolina Conference. Upon seeing the campus, Joe was inspired to write six verses of an impassioned ode to Africa University, the second verse of which reads as follows:

Today, my heart leaped for joy and skipped a beat, 
When, at long last, I beheld you, my sweet.
My days, months, years are filled with thoughts of you,
That’s why it’s a joy to do each year what I do.

For the past 21 years, Joe has faithfully solicited funds from family, friends, and congregants to provide scholarship support for students at Africa University.  Since his visit to the university in 2014, Joe and JoAnn have pledged to endow a full scholarship at Africa University.  Why?  The last verse of Joe’s ode to Africa University explains:

Because we met, my work will never end,
It will live on, in, and through you, my dear African friend.
My prayer to God for you each and every day is
Guide, strengthen, and show AU the more excellent way.
Make and keep her a beacon for all to see,
And help her make your world what you want it to be!

Joe and JoAnn’s endowed scholarship fund will provide financial assistance for qualified students for generations to come.  Their legacy of generosity and love for Africa University will always be remembered.

Elaine Jenkins, former director of planned giving in the Africa University Development OfficeFor more information about endowed scholarships and other opportunities to invest in the ministry that is Africa University, visit: support-africauniversity.org.