For more than 40 years, United Methodists around the world have observed World Communion Sunday in celebration of our connectedness as the body of Christ. This year, it is being observed on Sunday, October 4.
World Communion Sunday is an occasion to support educational opportunities for both international students and racial-ethnic students in the United States.
The World Communion Sunday offering funds scholarships for graduate students studying for professional degrees in their specific fields. Since 2002, the World Communion Scholarship program of Global Ministries has awarded $11,166,931 to more than 500 students.
One of those students is Cleber Lizardo de Assis.
Lizardo de Assis attended Pontifícia Universidade Católica de Minas Gerais in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, and graduated with a degree in psychology. In 2008 and 2009, he received a World Communion Scholarship to continue his studies there and pursue a Master of Psychology.
Learn more about Lizardo de Assis, the impact of the scholarship on his educational goals and how he has become an agent of change in his community in the brief interview below.
How did you learn about the World Communion Scholarship program? What were your professional goals at that time and how did receiving the scholarship impact those goals?
I got to know the program through a friend and missionary from the Methodist Church in Brazil. I wanted to pursue a master’s degree but did not have the financial means.
I was active in a church in Belo Horizonte and helped with several community projects in the Liberdade neighborhood: Juventude ao Extremo (Youth to the Extreme), for young people; Sombra e Água Fresca (Shade and Fresh Water), for migrant children from 6- to 14-years-old; and Third Age, for older adults.
At the time, I was a national agent and advisor for Sombra e Água Fresca of the Methodist Church of Brazil and helped to implement projects across the country.
The scholarship allowed me to pursue higher education, continue my service to the community and expand my commitment to social transformation in the world.
How have you advanced in your field of work? How are you an agent of change in your community?
I have since received a Doctor of Psychology and a postdoctoral degree in philosophy. I spent years as a professor and researcher in psychology and have written articles in the field.
As a teacher in psychology, theology, philosophy and social practices, I have helped to train community leaders and current teachers in these fields of study.
I also enjoy creating and implementing social programs that promote justice and peace for often marginalized groups: street children, perpetrators, people addicted to drugs, indigenous people, women and older adults.
You’ve recently written a children’s book. What is it about and what was the inspiration behind it?
“Minhoca Benzoca” is my first children’s book, illustrated by my son Ângelo Kalein. The work invites everyone to taste the good things in life. I am in production on other books, too. You can read more about them here.
What future goals do you have in your field of work?
I am concluding the Mental Health Project for All, a service that provides face-to-face and online psychotherapeutic assistance, free lectures and patient visits.
The next project I am developing and hope to implement next year is called Clínica Livre, which aims to serve Brazilians around the world, in addition to supporting the efforts of nongovernmental organizations in several countries to promote mental health.