Irene Kabete promised God that she would never apply for a job, but always be available to do whatever He asked her. Even as a Ph.D. student, she is pursuing her God-given passion for evangelism as the Multicultural Pastor at St. Luke United Methodist Church in Lexington, Ky.
In her role at St. Luke, she didn’t apply, but was invited. She co-pastored in the beginning. Over time, her role evolved as a preacher and coordinator with the pastors who lead the Swahili and Congolese worship services.
“My love for people [has] kept growing,” Irene said. “I love meeting people, sharing with them, praying for them. Prayer for me is a very significant tool to help people in their lives.”
Before answering God’s call to become a pastor, Irene worked as a nurse. As a pastor’s child, she never wanted to be a pastor. Often living in poor, rural locations, she often asked her dad, “Why are we even here?”
Irene pursued her own dream of nursing.
“I went through a Jonah process,” she said. “I wanted to be an usher or the church secretary, but God kept pestering me for a long time. I told my father I would rather die than be a pastor. I wanted my children to have shoes and food.”
Eventually, she surrendered to God’s call.
“Since then, I do not regret, for God has been so faithful to me,” Irene said.
Irene studied at United Theological College and the University of Zimbabwe before coming to the U.S. to study at Drew University and now at Asbury Seminary. She pastored in Zimbabwe from 1996-2004. In her second appointment, her parishioners, who had never had a female pastor before, addressed her husband as pastor and her as mom.
“The people had already rejected me before they even knew me,” Irene said. “But come Sunday their ‘pastor’ was sitting in the pews and ‘Mom’ was sitting on the stage.”