James Christie ’10 M.Div.
B.A. Lewis and Clark College 2003

ChristieI enrolled at Yale Divinity School after discerning a call to the Christian ministry in November 2005. At the time I was a creative writing teacher at a secondary school in Bulenga, Uganda and recovering from malaria in a local hospital. Riots broke out while I was hospitalized, and I was understandably terrified. Yet, even though the Ugandan army was shooting tear gas at people, my neighbors braved the streets to be with me in the hospital.

The love my Ugandan neighbors showed is the most eloquent communication of the Christian gospel I have ever received. They embodied for me God’s unconditional love, and I knew I wanted to be a minister. As I have reflected upon this incident during my time at Yale, I have come to realize that the life of faith is about striving to embody God’s love in every moment.

It is this message of God’s love that I have encountered repeatedly and learned to share powerfully during my three years at Yale. I have heard it preached by my classmates in Marquand. I have studied it while pouring over a passage from 1 Corinthians for a New Testament exegesis paper and struggled with it while trying to comprehend the thoughts of Karl Rahner. I have basked in it during Friday night dinner conversation with classmates and fell in love with it while spending yet another Saturday afternoon at the Divinity School library catching up on reading I should have finished the week before.

I have loved my three years at Yale. I have met passionate people from all over the world, each embodying God’s love in their own unique way. I have also had numerous opportunities to travel around the globe. I researched Muslim-Christian Dialogue in Istanbul, Turkey; built homes in a Nicaraguan village with the high school youth group at my internship site; and attended, with nine other Yale Divinity students, the 2009 Parliament of the World’s Religions in Melbourne, Australia.

My biggest blessing during my time at Yale was the eleven weeks I spent at Yale-New Haven Hospital for Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE). As a hospital chaplain intern, I prayed with the families of patients in the emergency room and with the dying. It was a very challenging ministry but also very gratifying. This is why I have decided to continue pursuing CPE after Yale. I will be doing a yearlong CPE residency at Albert Einstein Hospital in Philadelphia, a level-one trauma center.

I will also be continuing my commitment to Uganda. A few months after my hospitalization with malaria, I met a young man named Keneth Kiyija. Keneth lost his father, Emmanuel Musisi, to complications from AIDS in 2005 and was born with an atrial septal defect, essentially a complicated hole in his heart. His prognosis as a child was that he would not live to see 20. I introduced Keneth to my church community in California, and together we were able to arrange for Keneth’s lifesaving surgery in August 2008.

Keneth has always worked towards improving the lives of the orphans in his grandmother’s village, just outside of Masaka, Uganda. After his surgery, he founded Hope for African Children Ministries (HACM).  HACM is a nonprofit based in Uganda that feeds, clothes, educates, and nurtures the vulnerable children in the country. I have been supporting the work from the U.S. and in Uganda while finishing up my studies at Yale. As a new organization, HACM currently works with 19 children in the Masaka district. Keneth and I intend to grow HACM to help all the orphans in the Rakai and Masaka Districts.

I feel blessed that through my education at Yale I will be able to embody God’s love as both a hospital chaplain and through my work with HACM.