From begging orphan to doctor, Anthony Mulenga sees the miracles in his life

Published: Thursday, Aug. 1 2013 5:10 a.m. MDT

Mulenga was so grateful for the tuition money that he didn’t have the heart to mention the other expenses, mainly the cost of textbooks, which ranged from $70 to $90 each. Instead of requesting additional funds, he got creative. He offered to tutor Chinese students in exchange for the use of their textbooks at night. While most students slept, Mulenga studied the borrowed books and materials. If the electricity was turned off, he lit a candle.

For a residence, Mulenga said he “squatted.” He paid someone who had a room to let him sleep on the floor. Even so, he slept little. When he did, he carefully hid his possessions to prevent them from being stolen.

He did all this while consistently earning high grades.

“I worked harder than everyone else,” Mulenga said. “I took all the challenging courses when other students were afraid. I said I will take them and work extra hard. It was an opportunity.”

Warnick said they figured out what Mulenga was doing sometime later when they saw a list of his required textbooks. They noted the expensive price and asked if he had the books he needed?

“You would think that $3,000 would buy you a Taj Mahal over there. We thought, surely this money is putting him up in style,” Warnick said. “He was so grateful that he was just in school. … He had absolute faith.”

Mulenga's sacrifice and hard work paid off as he graduated from the University of Zambia and moved on to medical school. His final requirement is an internship/residency, which he starts this fall.

“I was so moved by the dedication of this individual,” Peters said. “Growing up as a street boy, no love, no family or friends, so thin, yet so full of hope and positive energy. He was in the depths of hell, yet he still had an outlook that life could be better. To feel his energy was inspiring.”

Gospel and family

Several members of Mothers Without Borders are also members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The gospel was shared with Mulenga toward the end of his high school experience. He liked the LDS Church, but admits his testimony was faint at the time. Mulenga gained his true testimony last year, thanks to his new family.

Knowing what he’s been through and how lonely he was, Warnick and her family decided to “unofficially/officially” adopt him.

"He’s 24, so we didn't feel it was necessary to do it legally," Warnick said.

A home computer was used to make a certificate that reads, “Anthony Mulenga was adopted on March 28, 2012, by Kent and B.J. Warnick and family. This is an adoption of the heart and is binding in every way that matters. Though too many miles separate us physically, the strength of our love forms a solid bridge that makes the journey a short one that will be easily and often traveled.”

“Anthony had been without a family long enough,” Warnick said. “We wanted him to know he is ours, that he has the luxury of failing and knowing through thick or thin he still has a family. Now he has three mothers, it doesn’t get any better than that.”

The adoption certificate hangs on Mulenga’s wall in Zambia.

It was the love of “Mother Sandy and Mother B.J.,” Mulenga said, that helped him understand the love of the Savior Jesus Christ.

“They are the only people who have loved me. They saw how lonely and helpless my life was, and that’s my understanding of the Savior, someone whose first impression is not your imperfection. That's the pure love of Christ,” Mulenga said. “If these sisters are Mormons and are willing to change my life for nothing in return, there must be something great about this church. That’s when I decided I should pay attention and develop a stronger testimony. That’s how I truly found out I had a testimony.”

Mulenga now serves as the clerk and librarian in his local Zambian LDS branch. He also traveled to Utah in May and spent a month getting to know his new family.

Message of hope

In a video taken by Warnick two years ago, Mulenga can be seen wearing a white lab coat. There is a stethoscope around his neck and an ID badge hanging from his front pocket. He is in his hometown of Lusaka, Zambia, standing next to a shady tree and a ditch full of trash. Beyond the ditch is a busy street lined with cars.

Mulenga smiles as he speaks to the camera.

“In 1998, this was my bedroom,” Mulenga said, gesturing toward the tree.

As he reflects on his experiences, he wants to give people a message of hope. If the Lord can help me, he can help you too, Mulenga has said.

“God will always compensate you for everything you go through. I grew up without a mother, now he has given me two,” he said. “God is very much aware of your life and situation. It may not be in your time frame, but sooner or later, when you least expect it, he will compensate you for all the pain. He is not asleep.”

Warnick agrees.

“We are never alone,” she said. “There is no other explanation for how he survived.”

“If you have family, you have it all.”

Email: ttoone@desnews.com Twitter: tbtoone

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