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Life as a preacher’s son- Carl Michael-Angello Cunningham’s story

Published:Saturday | January 16, 2016 | 1:00 AMTamara Bailey
Carl with his family (from left) younger brother Joshua, father Pastor Carl (senior), and Mother Sandra Cunningham.
Carl Michael-Angello Cunningham
Cunningham is the Andrews University Singers Graduate Conducting assistant and is photographed here at the Howard Performing Arts Centre at the Andrews University in Michigan, USA.
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Carl Michael-Angello Cunningham's story

Throughout history the child of a minister of religion, much like any other child, has been looked upon intently to make the decision between two extremes - the way of the world or the way of God.

While some rebel signalling a total departure from the faith after having doctrine forced on them, others fall along the way, but they never forget the foundation of sound Christian principles that were laid.

Twenty-four-year-old Carl Michael-Angello Cunningham may have initially wanted to get baptised for the wrong reasons, but as a born-and-bred Adventist, his reasons were ultimately cemented in his love for God.

"I wanted to be baptised earlier, but my father said I should wait until I was seven. When that did happen, I reminded him and he decided he would allow me to - I suppose he wanted me to make a decision for myself. At a young age, I thought it was pretty cool to be dipped in the water. I saw everyone doing it around me and it was the only way to get any of the communion bread and wine," he said laughingly.

"But I honestly did love God though. I wanted to live my life for Him and I can proudly say I am still a Christian today."

With eyes and ears pressed to his actions and utterances, Cunningham told Family and Religion that it all boils down to existing in context while operating with morality.

"It's been a rocky road, especially as I got to my teenage years and still now, in my early 20s. It's tricky to make decisions about what is right and wrong, and as you get older, many of the things which seemed so absolute, so black and white, become more grey and relative. Truth is, we live in a constantly changing world and the church is just as much affected by the changes in society as governments, schools and other organisations."

He added, "As a young Christian, the friends you keep and the company you entertain are critical to your faith. I have a good core of Christian friends who genuinely have my best interest at heart. We look out for each other and call out each other when someone is doing wrong. We do fun, clean activities together: play ball, games nights, go to concerts, eat out, go to the beach, travel, all sorts of fun stuff. Church people are also very supportive of you - when they aren't criticising - but I understand though that they have high expectations for us (young Christians)."

Cunningham, who said there is a special calling on his life, has not only honed his craft as a musician, but has also pursued studies in the art form as well as church administration.

"I was always at church, always around good music, but I really began getting into it in high school. I started to play for church and sing for church and at school. When I went to college, I found myself so involved in music - directing the choir, playing, singing, teaching, songwriting - it came very naturally. It was my niche. I never majored in it, but I was always at the music department and all my friends came to know me as a musician. I was convinced that I wanted to do a masters' in music."

He continued, "I took the opportunity to go away and pursue my dream - probably one of the best decisions I have made in life! So now I'm doing a masters in music: choral conducting in the United States. Since here, I have also taken on a second masters in divinity as I intend to work for the church. I definitely think that a life of service to God and to people, is the most fulfilling path you can trod in this life and I am convicted that God has placed a special calling on my life to serve people.

Cunningham admits that the journey of a Christian will be filled with challenges but there is no alternative.

"I may not be old, but I have made mistakes in my own life and have had to deal with the bitter consequences of straying from God's will, and to me now, it just doesn't seem worth it. Life is a whole lot more rewarding and sweet when we live for God. And the trials will come, but Jesus is always there to help you get through them.

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