Journeys

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Meeting “Jesus”
Meeting “Jesus”

MEETING “JESUS”

Growing up in the Congo, I knew and believed like everyone else that Jesus was a white man with blue eyes and long hair.

I did my primary studies in a Catholic school. We had a custom once in a while to have a mass at the Cathedral related to our school. One day, something unusual happened. A white guy came right at the end of the mass, standing outside of the cathedral. When we saw him, we went to him, surrounded him—pulling his hair and trying to touch him. We thought? … No, we knew he was Jesus. We started yelling and singing “YESU, YESU, YESU!’’

YESU means Jesus in Lingala (common language spoken in Kinshasa, DR Congo).

That day was the happiest day of my life. I was certain that I saw Jesus (I was only 9). I went home and shared with mom about what had happened. She laughed and knew that was not correct. She told me that the man I saw was not Jesus, it was just a random white guy. I did not believe her. But a few days later, I understood that the white guy I saw was not Jesus.

This shows how colonialism and the church have pictured Jesus as a white man all over the world. In every church that I have been to in Africa, I haven’t seen a picture of an Asian or African Jesus. JESUS is always WHITE. This is one of the reasons why some Africans don’t relate to Christianity because it’s the religion of the “whites.”

As of now, it doesn’t matter to me whether Jesus was white, black, red, or yellow. The most important thing to me is that He is my Lord and Savior. Amen!

—Pauline Shongo

 

Penny Allen
Penny Allen

I lost my husband, Carl, on March 28, 2008. I lost a lot of sleep while Carl was ill. His passing sent me into a great depression. After he passed, I cried a lot. It didn’t matter where I was…the grocery store, or just at home. I went to have my income taxes prepared that year, and I just started crying. I had to leave.

I went to my doctor and she gave me some anti-depression medication, but it made me tired all the time. I stopped taking it and the crying started again. I knew I needed to get out of the house. Carl and I had attended Trinity sometimes, so I decided I’d see about joining a circle so I could get out at least once a month.

Since then, I’ve made Trinity my 2nd home. I joined Dorcas Circle and that started the very active and productive life I have now, not only with United Methodist Women, but with the Church and I’ve made a multitude of friends.

I still experience some depression and I still cry. I take a small dose of a medicine for my Fibromyalgia, which also has an anti-depression medication in it. It helps a lot.

I can positively say that since becoming active at Trinity in 2009 my life is much better and I have all of you, God and many prayers to thank.

–Penny Allen

“The Least of These”
“The Least of These”

Today [November 4, 2018] is the fourth in a series of sermons using the book, “The Simple Faith of Mister Rogers,” by Amy Hollingsworth. The focus today is, “The Least of These.”

“Out of his deep hurt came a longing to soothe the pain of others, and out of the callous disregard of schoolyard bullies came a determination to only lift up- and never demean- his neighbor… At last I had it: Fred’s intense devotion to the disenfranchised, to the least of these, arose from the realization that he was one of them.” – Amy Hollingsworth, The Simple Faith of Mister Rogers, 2005

As Amy says, Fred Roger’s ability to see and minister to the least of these happened because he saw himself as one of those, “least people.” I can relate to that.

I was 12 when my family moved from Albion, NE to Overland Park, KS so my Dad could go to seminary. My new middle school had more kids than the entire population of Albion, NE.  My seventh-grade year was hell. I was always getting my books knocked out of my hands in the hallways. Then when you got down to pick them up you got kicked and shoved by the masses. Eventually, I made friends through band, choir and football. And thankfully, I grew a foot between seventh and ninth grade. So, by ninth grade, I was one of the big kids in that school. 

So that ninth-grade year, I remember seeing an eighth grader knock the books out of the arms of some scrawny seventh grader right in the middle of a major bottle-neck between hallways. So, I proceeded to throw that eighth grader up against the lockers and made him get down and pick up all those books and give them back to the shivering “sevey.” Cause that shivering scrawny kid was me just two years ago.

So, don’t let me ever see you dump somebody else’s books around church, or you’ll answer to me! I’ve been there, done that.

Grace & Peace,

–Rev. Kelly Karges

Jennifer Obermiller
Jennifer Obermiller

My world shattered on July 4, 2015 when my husband of 10 year committed suicide. My late husband was a stay at home dad. Not only was I grieving the loss of my spouse, but I was struggling with who could I trust to take care of my child, so I could continue working to provide for us. I turned to my family, friends, and church family to help me through this difficult time. God pointed me to Noah’s Ark.

The staff at Noah’s Ark welcomed Alayna and I with open arms and made this transition easier on us. There were many tears between Alayna and I the first couple of weeks – learning the drop off routine. I was the love the Noah’s Ark staff had for Alayna and they made sure I was doing alright.

Over the last couple of years, I have seen the programs at Noah’s Ark change for the development of children. Alayna has learned so much participating in these programs. She has learned Spanish, learned sign language, social interaction with other children, learning about disabilities, and preschool skills. Alayna is very shy child and she now stands up in front of the church during programs (still not singing), loves church time with Molly, and her favorite activity is drum circle with Pastor Kelly. Alayna loves being at Noah’s Ark so much that she is always playing daycare at home.

Alayna continues to have separation anxiety at times. The staff is well trained on how to deal with difficult situations and they teach her how to deal with her emotions in a productive way. Alayna and I would not be where we are today if it had not been for the loving staff at Noah’s Ark. We consider them part of our family and know they feel the same way. We have been blessed that God pointed us in the direction of Noah’s Ark.

– Jennifer Obermiller

The Jamaican Way
The Jamaican Way

On our honeymoon, a canopy tree fell on Austin. We were lounging on bright, blue beach chairs, watching the rain fall around us, and dozing in and out of sleep while the canopy tree provided a dry space. Austin decided to get up and move his chair. He leaned on the tree, which was rotted on the bottom. Unfortunately, the pressure he applied made the tree fall over and they both toppled to the ground. I was stunned and was suddenly being rained on. Within seconds, we had at least six Jamaicans around us—asking “Are you okay?” and moving the canopy tree away from the scene. In seconds, they had us lounging in a new beach chair. Besides for one follow-up call, no one mentioned the accident again.
Not making a big scene out of something appeared to be the Jamaican way.

Throughout our 9 days in Jamaica, Jamaicans constantly told us: “Not to worry,” “No worries,” “No problem,” “Not a problem,” and to “relax, you’re on vacation.”

Okay. We relaxed and didn’t worry (too much).

I can’t tell you how many Jamaicans asked us if we were okay—just walking to the pool, we would have at least two workers ask us how we were doing. Even if the sun was shining in my eyes, I felt like I couldn’t even squint, because they would think something was wrong. It was… refreshing.

How many times a day do you ask someone if they are okay? How many times a day do you notice if someone might be having a bad day? How many times a day does someone ask you if you’re okay? How many times a day does someone stop what they are doing to pay attention to you?
The Jamaican way was slow paced and relaxed.

Perhaps all resorts are like that… but… I don’t know. Even on our excursions, people asked if we were doing alright. It doesn’t matter. It was a much-needed reminder to slow down and to stop worrying.

Blessings,
Allie Remm