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From global justice champion to Christian university president

A Ugandan teenager imprisoned on false murder charges. An American law professor inspired to follow God’s calling. The story behind a life-changing meeting, an African nation’s reforms and Pepperdine’s surprising choice.

By Bobby Ross Jr. | The Christian Chronicle

MALIBU, Calif. — A few hours after Jim Gash’s inauguration this fall as Pepperdine University’s eighth president, his wife, Joline, showed up at her husband’s fourth-floor executive suite with a Ugandan medical student.

Tumusiime Henry, 26, had flown nearly 10,000 miles to help celebrate Jim Gash’s unlikely ascension to the top post at the 7,900-student university, which is associated with Churches of Christ.

Henry wore a black suit with a red plaid bow tie as he joined the Gashes in an office overlooking the Pacific Ocean — a postcard-perfect view flanked by Pepperdine’s 125-foot-high monumental cross on one side and a smaller cross atop the stained-glass Stauffer Chapel on the other.

At the inauguration festivities that morning, Henry had sat in the front row as a special honored guest among the thousands of students, dignitaries and faculty members dressed in academic regalia.

As Jim Gash, 52, will tell anyone who will listen, he never would have become president if he hadn’t met Henry.

“It’s all due to this young, brave man next to me,” Gash said of Henry — the nickname by which the aspiring ophthalmologist is known in Uganda, an East African nation that doesn’t have family surnames.

Read the full story.

This story appears in the November print edition of The Christian Chronicle. It was picked up by Religion News Service and distributed on its national wire.

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