featuresApril 9, 2024
Chris Furusa is a SEMO student from Zimbabwe who came to the United States and found a purpose beyond himself. His actions have impacted and uplifted the people of Cape Girardeau through his love for Christ.
International student from Zimbabwe Chris Furusa said he has learned a lot about patience while working with The Peace Movement. He said he is able to see himself from the third person perspective, and when he notices he becomes frustrated or angry with things not going exactly as planned, he is able to step back and realize that there is no rush. He then comes back with even more energy and confidence, hoping to encourage his friends to do the same.
International student from Zimbabwe Chris Furusa said he has learned a lot about patience while working with The Peace Movement. He said he is able to see himself from the third person perspective, and when he notices he becomes frustrated or angry with things not going exactly as planned, he is able to step back and realize that there is no rush. He then comes back with even more energy and confidence, hoping to encourage his friends to do the same. Photo by Molly Phegley

Furusa moved to Cape Girardeau in August of 2021, with the mission to pursue a degree in commercial multimedia and computer graphics.

He joined the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity where he made many friends - one of those friends being John Haggerty. Furusa soon moved in with Haggerty and quickly meshed with his friend group.

Furusa leads his life with compassion and love for others in hopes of inspiring them to do the same.

“When I'm in the presence of others, I want to acknowledge their presence. I want them to feel that they are alive and they are heard,” Furusa said.

This became especially true for Furusa after he lost his good friend Jeffery Young on Jan. 26, 2023.

“He was a phenomenal man. He was a father, a son, a friend and a brother,” Furusa said. “Losing him left such a big gap in our hearts.”

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Graphic by Molly Phegley

Furusa, Haggerty, and their friends spent time reflecting on the loss of Young and began to understand his deepened struggle.

“We then realize that he felt alone. He felt like he didn't have anyone and people really didn't understand him,” Furusa said. “It was upon that, that we realized everybody else is going through the same thing. Whether you're rich, whether you're poor, whether you're in the streets, people feel alone.”

Haggerty said he saw how demons can be real in some people’s lives, and that still motivates him to this day to continue to provide a community for people in need.

Within this realization, Furusa and Haggerty found a way to honor Young’s life by serving others in the community through their love of Christ. Furusa said they began looking at what they could offer - what they had within themselves that they could give to the world to make it a better place. The conclusion they came to was the representation of warmth and love through food.

In Zimbabwean culture, food is a love language, Furusa said.

“Food is a way of expressing that you are seen, you are heard, you are welcome,” Furusa said. “If a guest comes to [a traditional African] home, it is mandatory for us to give them a hot meal. I'm humbled that someone wants to share their universe with my universe, and so it is my responsibility to try and make sure that they know that they are appreciated.”

Furusa often cooked traditional African dishes for him and his friends, and decided the symbolism of love through food is something that he wanted to incorporate in his plan to give back. He and Haggerty both love to cook, so they began their journey where they felt most comfortable: in the kitchen.

“We started off in the kitchen in the International Village. Things were happening very fast. Our first day, things happened a bit haphazardly,” Furusa said. “So we get everything together, we're done with the plates, and then we're like, ‘Okay, we have all these plates. Now what?’ We didn't really have a plan from there, but then we say to ourselves, these plates have to go to someone, so we loaded them up in the car and started just driving.”

Furusa and Haggerty spent the rest of that afternoon in January of 2023 passing out plates of food to people in need in the Cape Girardeau community, spreading love and positivity in honor of their friend, Young.

Furusa and Haggerty’s vision to serve the community began as just a conversation, but it quickly sparked into something much bigger: The Peace Movement.

“It's really just a calling that we have from God. That's really the best way I can describe it,” Haggerty said. “The philosophy behind it is that we want to be able to do nice things for people and foster that sense of serving your neighbor within the community with the intention to get everybody to have a similar mindset.”

Over the past year, Furusa and Haggerty have recruited a group of over 14 friends who help them cook and hand out traditional African dishes every Sunday while spreading the word of Christ through The Peace Movement.

“The Peace Movement is basically a church. We believe that the people are the church, and the goal is to serve the church, so that means we directly serve the people,” Furusa said. “We want to share love and unity amongst the people of Cape. It's a church of love and unity.”

International graduate student in public administration and industrial management Ange Agja joined The Peace Movement early on. Being from Ivory Coast in West Africa, Agja has been able to incorporate his knowledge of cooking traditional African dishes.

“The main goal is to bring these people close to God. They should not think that God is not with them, despite the fact that they are living in bad conditions, God still has a plan for them,” Agje said. “We hope they regain peace because there is no peaceful muscle in them, no peace within the mind, and I hope that this peace we bring to them will meet them.”

The Peace Movement is sustained fully by the members’ contributions. Every Friday, they get together to plan what meal they want to make that week and then split the cost of groceries. Fursua said everyone contributes what they can, whether it be money, time, effort or transportation.

Member of The Peace Movement James Thurmond said this is their way of giving back to the community, but he hopes to become established as a non-profit in the near future, so they can take donations and expand the organization.

Every Sunday, The Peace Movement shoots to make anywhere from 40 to 100 dishes to give out to the community. They hand out these dishes to people at assisted living communities, addiction recovery centers, local shelters and anyone in need.

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Graphic by Molly Phegley

Not only are the people they serve being positively impacted, but the members of The Peace Movement are also benefiting from their mission.

“It makes me feel spiritually satisfied to see the smiles on people's faces,” Thurmond said. “These are people that will be sleeping on park benches and feel forgotten by the world in a way. It's just an overall great cause that I'm honored to be a part of.”

Multiple members of The Peace Movement said they have many impactful memories of conversations and interactions with the people they’ve met along the way that inspire them to continue their work. Furusa said he has seen a meaningful change and growth among the people they serve.

“They have become a lot more free. Their attitude from when we started till now is very, very different. You can see that they are more alive. They care a lot more about the things that are around them, and they try to help the next person in the littlest way that they can,” Furusa said.

Doing this kind of work has taught The Peace Movement members many things about themselves and their community - one of those things being that everyone is on a similar journey in life, no matter how different it may look.

“We are all the same. We don't all have the same struggles that we go through, but it's all kind of the same process, and we all just are in different stages of the process,” Haggerty said.

Furusa has come to a very similar understanding of the people they serve.

“They’re all the same. There is no one who is greater than the other. We are all hurting one way or another, and we all need someone, even just to smile and say hello,” Furusa said.

Members sometimes write messages or prayers on the to-go boxes in hopes to be able to provide community and a relationship with Jesus for people who are feeling alone.

Furusa said he wants to bring people together through The Peace Movement because the world and the people are becoming divided, and now is a time where unity is needed more than ever.

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Graphic by Molly Phegley

“It is very much to our own advantage that people from our community are uplifted in solidarity, so that when times get even harder, we know that we have each other,” Furusa said.

His favorite quote is that of John F. Kennedy: “Ask not what your country can do for you– ask what you can do for your country.”

This quote inspires Furusa of a peaceful future, and he would like to encourage everyone to look inward to realize how blessed they are, and from their blessings, identify how they can give back to the world.

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Graphic by Molly Phegley