David and Marlene live a life of service. Between David serving as the Missions and Outreach Pastor at Brentwood United Methodist Church in Brentwood, Tennessee and Marlene as Executive Director of Raise the Roof, they have found ways to align vocation, passion and the world’s need.
Photo: Marlene and David Ssebulime during a scene from Rethink Church "Inside Out" advertising campaign shoot in Nashville, Tenn. Photo by Mike DuBose, United Methodist Communications.
Still a child in Uganda in 1984, David’s father passed away and he was taken to an orphanage. Unlike other kids his age, David was given the opportunity to be a part of a tour choir that traveled the US and Europe to raise support and sponsors for their education. As an adult, David attended college in India and the United States, worked in banking and finance in the San Francisco Bay Area, and completed his Master of Divinity from Vanderbilt University.
Out of gratitude and realization that for many African orphaned and at-risk children David’s story is not the norm, David has dedicated his life to work with and among communities that are dedicated to sharing the love of God in tangible ways as an expression of God’s grace, and journeying with individuals and families towards wholeness.
Because of his own experiences as an orphan, David is committed to justice for orphaned children:
I believe that when we give orphan and at-risk children a place to call home, a school to attend, and a family to belong to, we hold fidelity to the truth that we are all created for a purpose, this is the essence of living.
When you ask them about how they’ve been able to do this work, they’ll tell you that their past and current churches have been great supporters of the work they feel called to do. The church has supported their vision, of founding Raise the Roof, Inc. and have shared opportunities for ministry, service, and growth with their congregations.
For Marlene and David, church isn’t a building or just a Sunday morning. Church is people gathering together, in community, to worship God and impact our greater communities, locally and globally.
Through the non-profit organization they founded, called Raise the Roof, David and Marlene have been able to open a school in rural Uganda and a sponsorship program to connect people in the United States with the children at the school who receive support for their education. At Raise the Roof Academy, the children not only receive a good education, but also nutritious meals and snacks, health and hygiene training, and the caring embrace of a local school and church that fosters love and growth.
Raise the Roof Inc. is giving hope and building a future through education.
Through the vision of David and Marlene, and with support of individuals and churches who nurture their passion and call to serve locally and globally, they embody the belief that church can happen anywhere.