Blog PostI am a human
January 12, 2015
It started off very personally. It shocked me and made me think for a long time with a bitter sentiment. The incident made me questions a lot about how we define human being and how exactly we interpret and apply the Bible in our daily lives. It started with a group photo on Facebook. In November, many people from my country gathered and attended an event. We really enjoyed meeting one another and the fellowship with people we regard as our own brothers and sisters. Another group of people from my space: country took our group picture posted it o Facebook and posted it again on their Facebook group calling us traitors of our own people. I can understand their political view but stay away from them because I don't agree with their view. It is their right to campaign for what they believe in and it is my right to choose my commitment. We have the rights to stand for what we believe, but posting our group picture on Facebook and accusing us as traitors was too much for me. I was just one of the group members in the photo that was posted but still it was public humiliation. It was a huge insult to me. I have the right to go where I want and it was none of their business whom I mingled with. Therefore I went to their place and asked for the person responsible for that post. Shockingly nobody came out and took responsibility. When I insisted that person come out and take responsibility, more shockingly, one of the guys who was a theology seminary student in his early thirties told me that I should shut my mouth because I am a woman and confronting is not what I can do as a woman. His words stroked my mind and the incident prompted a fiery conversation. It is a shocking and sad fact that even these days, some people still think that women have no right to stand up for what she thinks is right or wrong. She can’t even speak out about how she was publicly humiliated. Many Theology students who are going to lead spiritually and morally to the next generation still think that women have no right to claim their human rights and to ask for respect. What a tragedy!!! It is no wonder that over the past 100 years people from our Chin state held a similar notion about women since all of them were illiterate and were Animists. But in recent years, most of the people have learned to read and end sentence with period. At least 50 % of the young population has graduated and is growing up as Christians as the fruits of the foreign missionaries commitment to our state. Many people, both women and men, have pursued post-graduate theological studies in different countries in the hopes of helping build our nation spiritually and morally. Still some so-called educated people think that women cannot lead, preach, or even defend her own reputation. Should a woman wait for a man to cover up her shame? Should a woman wait for a man to rescue her? We cannot generalize that everybody thinks the same way. However this incident has shown that there are many people who still think that women are just for domestic use, not human beings who have the same rights as men. Some people might say this is our culture. Some people will point out parts of scripture that they would interpret as the whole concept of the Bible even though they teach others to interpret parts of scripture is so sad that we have double standards in every aspect of life including the way we apply the Bible to our lives. We, as Christians, preach the gospel ‘Jesus died for every human being and saves us all from the bondage of sin. We all are free from all the bondage of sin only by believing and accepting Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior.’ We proudly take the Cross as a sign of being a Christian. But in reality, we put our own sisters, mothers, grandmothers under the bondage of so called culture and social norms and never allow them enjoy their human being as the perfect work of God that He created in His own image (Gen. 1:27). This is not simply a gender problem. This is a problem of defining human being. If a man thinks that he is the higher level human being and women are lower level human beings only between human and animal, that’s a huge insult to the creator of human beings. He automatically points out the Creator God as an unjust God with a bias towards men. If he thinks women don’t have the same rights as men do, I wonder what they think of their own mothers and sisters. Do they think of them as just property or animals? A man who cannot respect women automatically disrespects his own mother because they all share the same gender. A man who thinks women are just property automatically degrades himself as less than human because he comes out of a property and he is not a human if he is not of a human. With this very bad experience, I have learned some lessons which have helped me to understand and let go. 1) We need to be really educated. I believe that real education opens our eyes, helps us to see the diversity in our world, and helps us to learn how to respect our fellow human beings. 2) We need to know that respecting our fellow human beings means respecting ourselves. We all share the same image of God. Respecting some creations of God and disrespecting others is not a proper way to portray ourselves as the perfect creations of the very Just and righteous God. 3) The Bible should not be interpreted and applied with double standards: one for us and one for others. After all we are all human and we all make mistakes. We also need to understand each other and not hold grudges for a long time as well as let go of any bitterness. This will help us all to enjoy the life that God has perfectly created for us and that Jesus paid for with His own life.
Blog PostSpecial opportunity of my life
January 12, 2015
I am Kou Bembo Dolo from Liberia. I am married to Mr. Perry S. Dolo with five children. I was actually called to ministry when I was very young. I started as a Sunday school teacher, later a choir directress, and now a pastor. It is a new sentence." It is a calling that I especially love as a woman." In my hometown is one word, I am the only female pastor. I have been in ministry for twenty three years. What is the ultimate goal or vision of my life? First of all, I am thankful to the almighty God who has called me to His ministry. My vision is to be a great woman leader at my Annual conference. I plan to follow the heart I have for young women on the streets and make them into important people in today's society by the grace of God, as UMC did for me to make me into the person I am today. God has always spoken to me in that direction. In my District Conference, I was chosen to move with the women group as a pastor. Through this we were able to establish a center for young women learning how to make clothes from the sewing machines and sell them for their own use. And through this center, young women were able to be converted to Christianity. In that center we didn’t only homophone: accept not except Christians, but non-believers as well. Our country is poor, so some young women who can't see a way do things like sell their body to make a living, which is a bad thing to do. Therefore I plead to God to help me lead young women in the same direction as my vision. What different things I have before and after the study? Before coming to Korea, I have had leadership experiences through leading many churches in my Annual Conference. After this study I am going to be higher in ability, because here I have been able to mingle with people from different countries. I have also learned new methods of leading the church. When I did the course ethnography I learned a whole lot of methods that gave me new insight into the church as well as NOT ", couple with" many other new things from other courses. Ethnography taught me how to give careful attention and give listening ears to your congregation. During this study I have been able to visit some important and historical sites here in Korea, which have taught me new lessons that I will not easily forget. After this study one of the things I will like to remember and carry back home is keeping with time.One main thing is with the issue of textbooks and materials to do assignments are very easy here for us. We also have easy access to electricity, which I cannot get in my home back in Liberia. Therefore this time of study here is a great experience for me. Lastly I didn’t wear trousers in my country to church. it has been a very new experience for me here, now that I am used to the trousers I cannot see myself wearing other clothes ever again, so now I wonder what I should do when I go back home. What is the Scranton Scholarship for me and my life?I will start like this: The stone which the builders rejected as worthless turned out to be the most important of all. This was done by the Lord; what a wonderful sight it is! This is the day of the Lord’s victory; let us be happy, let us celebrate! Save us, Lord, save us! Give us success, O Lord! May God bless the one who comes in the name of the Lord! From the temple of the Lord we bless you. The Lord is God; he has been good to us. With branches in your hands, start the festival and March round the altar. You are my God, and I give you thanks; I will proclaim your greatness. Give thanks to the Lord, because he is good, and his love is eternal.(Psalms 18:21-29). I said the above meaning I come from a very poor background and in the eyes of human beings will be nobody. However, see how God’s thinking is so different from human; he has chosen me from that background to bring me here. Therefore the Scranton Scholarship is a sign of victory for my call to ministry; this proves that God uses anybody regardless of his or her background. This Scholarship serves as an eye opener for me and my family and a challenge to my children and other women that someone my age with many children can go to school especially as African women. Now my life will change after graduation positively. This Scholarship is taking me from grass to grace; it is modeling me into a new being in life. I extend my thanks and appreciations to Scranton Women’s LeadershipCenter for making me a new person in my family and community. May God continue to bless all of you who have made my life so beautiful in the Lord.
Blog PostChallenge to my life!
January 12, 2015
It's been four years since I was an intern at Scranton Women's Leadership Center in Seoul, Korea. The lessons I learned and the people I met during my seven-month internship are still a big part of my life today. If I were to sum up my unforgettable internship in one sentence, I would say cherish the people in every moment. There is a saying I like to remind myself once in awhile.... "If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go farther, go with others." I continue to experience that communities and relationships are the key factors to success. Before my internship, I was fixated on checking items off of my man-made list of to-dos. I have been conditioned to think that I need to go to school, graduate, find a job, get married, and start a family. Through this opportunity, I was able to step out of my comfort zone and think outside the box. It is no longer about the list for me but about the memories that I make with the people I meet on the way. I am no longer tied down by the pressures of this world. I know that when the time is right, items on my list will check off on their own.
Today's PeopleThe Long Journey to be a Global Leader
January 12, 2015
Greetings from Seoul, Korea! Hello all! I am proud and honored to have the opportunity to share my personal life story with you through Scranton Center’s new website! My name is Ji-eun (Esther) Kim, a global mission fellow of General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM) of the United Methodist Church (UMC). I was sent to Zambia, Africa by GBGM for a year and a half as my international placement site. I served with the ecumenical NGO named TEEZ which stands for Theological Education by Extension in Zambia. I was there as a gender justice support assistant. Currently, I am serving with the National Council of Churches in Korea (NCCK) in the department of Reconciliation and Unification as my domestic placement site. This is where I will serve until the end of my term. I want to be a peacemaker, mediator and bridge builder for peace and justice. Time to time, however, I find myself as a person who lacks inner peace. This is not something to be shameful or humiliated about. Rather, I realize that these challenges must be overcome little by little through my efforts. So I am going to share you about my steps toward peace and justice. It has not been long journey. In fact, it just started! And surely, I will continue to move forward not by only myself, but also with you! [STEP 1. Not Only Charity but Also Justice] In January of 2010, I attended the Asian Young Women’s Leadership Training Program in the Philippines held and sponsored by Scranton Women’s Leadership Center and the United Methodist Women. We visited several offices of NGOs as a part of our schedule. During one of our visits, I saw a calendar for the New Year on one of the desks. Every month displayed a different picture of the poor around the world. Someone next to me was looking through and said very quietly, “Charity is not enough. We have to seek justice rather than just charity’.” This was my starting point in understanding the difference between justice and peace issues and mere charity. After the program, I wanted to learn and seek more about justice and peace. [STEP 2A. Global Justice Volunteer] In the same year, to expand my experiences of justice and peace issues in the world, I applied for the GBGM Global Justice Volunteer program. From June to August of 2010, I went back to the Philippines for the GJV program. For more than 2 months, I worked with a local NGO where they dealt with community development, children and youth education including disabled children, poverty, livelihood education for the poor, orphanage work, and scholarship programs for those in need. During my internship there, I faced and addressed many kinds of unjust and un-peaceful situations. Many people were fighting against the government and its corrupted policies. We participated in demonstrations, protests, and also peaceful rallies in the plaza with many people who were fighting for their rights for a better life and better world. Even though they were starving, living on the streets, and drinking dirty water, they still had smiling faces saying that they were blessed people. For me, it felt almost like a disaster and a tragedy, but I saw their bright faces. At that moment, I also felt very guilty about my life and of myself. I thought what have I done in my life and what am I doing now? How have I been living up until now? What is my life compared their lives? I felt shameful to even breathe the same air as them. To be continued…