Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Home for Christmas

The Christmas of 1977 was one of those years that Christmas Day happened to fall on a Sunday.

I was in my first year at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky.  In order to earn additional money for tuition I accepted the position as church organist in September at a large church in Lexington, KY, and when I was hired, it was agreed that I would play throughout the Christmas season. That meant I would not be home for Christmas in Baltimore that year. 

I had begun dating a young man from Texas named Michael Johnson, but when the fall semester final exams were over he went home and I stayed in Kentucky to fulfill my obligations to the church. When the dorms closed I ended up staying at an apartment that a fellow seminarian had rented.  He went home for Christmas but was thrilled to let me use his apartment so that I could take care of his Siamese cat named Butch.  Butch was a strange cat. He insisted on sleeping with his head on the pillow with me every night, and he even snored in my ear, which made the whole lonely Christmas scene yet a little more bizarre.

I was determined to be brave about being alone for Christmas in a strange town, with a strange cat, being employed by church people that I barely knew. As each student finished exams and left for home, my bravery began to slip away into full-blown home-sickness. After all, aren’t we all supposed to be home for Christmas? Wasn’t there some song about it that Bing Crosby sang during World War II? 

Monday, November 24, 2014

World AIDS Day: Educate, Donate to Help Us Find a Cure

As I reflect back on the beginning of the AIDS epidemic in the late 1980’s it was a time of intense fear in the church I was serving in Baltimore.  A number of the church members had contracted the disease and as the word spread people were afraid to even stand near the infected ones. 

I remember a board meeting where folks were calling for the end of “passing the peace” during the service, and for intinction during Holy Communion to be replaced with individual cups of grape juice.  There was a lot of unfounded fear and ignorance; and sadly there were also many deaths because medications and treatment had not been developed. 

Fast forward to 2014, and it is a different story.  Dr. Christoph Benn, Director of External Relations for The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, addressed the Council of Bishops at the November meeting in Oklahoma City.  He was very hopeful and he commended The United Methodist Church for partnering with The Global Fund in combating these killer diseases.  

In terms of HIV/AIDS, he reported that there are 33 percent fewer people in the world with the disease since 2005.  In terms of deaths, there are 1.5 million people dying from AIDS complications now, as opposed to 3 million in 2005. There were 400,000 babies born with HIV back then, and now that number has been cut in half.  While AIDS is still a major heath concern on this planet, we are making progress in eliminating it due to medical advances in fighting this disease and the large amount of money that has been raised.

Dr. Benn stressed that medication as well as education is the winning combination. The more people learn about the disease the better they can take preventative measures.  Education also helps eliminate the stigma that comes with this disease. 

While I was touring the East Congo Conference this summer our team visited an AIDS clinic. The social worker there was explaining to parents with a baby born with HIV that they should not reject their child.  Some parents were actually hiding their babies under the bed because of the stigma of AIDS. 

The UMC has more than 200 HIV/AIDS clinics like this one in over 35 countries working hard to both treat the disease and teach people about prevention.

The UMC is challenging the world to eliminate this disease by the year 2020.  December 1st is World AIDS Day and it would be a great opportunity to teach your church about HIV/AIDS and to collect funds for the United Methodist Global AIDS Fund (UMGAF). 

The monies collected helps efforts in developing countries, but 25 percent of all donations through the UMC remain in the donor annual conferences for AIDS ministries.  For more information and promotional materials check out the UMCOR website at: www.umcor.org/umcor/programs/globalhealth/HIV/AIDS.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Honoring our Veterans; caring for those with disabilities

November 11th is Veterans Day.  It is an official United States holiday in which we honor the men and woman who have served in the Armed Forces. 

Veterans Day honors all who have served, while Memorial Day remembers those who lost their lives in service of their country. There are more than 21.5 million veterans in our country today.

We have veterans from numerous wars living in our country; and although the conflicts and the issues surrounding each of our wars is different, they have one thing in common: they all have persons in their ranks who have suffered disabilities.

There are 3.5 million veterans with service-connected disabilities, and an estimated 800,000 of them have severe disabilities.  These include loss of limbs, hearing loss, vision loss, disfigurement and post-traumatic stress disorder, to name a few.  In addition, there is a high rate of suicide and attempted suicide and many who have suffered from sexual trauma while in the military. 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Church’s One Foundation

Rev. Samuel J. Stone

Anglican priest, the Rev. Samuel J. Stone penned the words to the beloved hymn: “The Church’s One Foundation” in 1866. (Book of Hymns #545)  According to Warren Shiver, author of Stories behind the Hymns, it was written as a call to unity in the church during a time of controversy. 

South African Bishop John William Colenso (first Church of England Bishop of Natal, mathematician, theologian, Biblical scholar and social activist) had contended that the Bible was a myth.  He was deposed for heresy, then later reinstated. But all the while there was deep division in the South African Church about these issues. 

Rev. Stone writes: “Though with a scornful wonder we see her (the church) sore oppressed, by schisms rent asunder, by heresies distressed.” 

This humble parish priest was passionate about the church remaining unified as a body here on earth even in the midst of controversy.  In his hymn he connected the church of the living with the church triumphant.  

The saints in heaven are depicted as those who are encouraging the church by keeping watch and praying as the divisions raged on below.  This imagery can be helpful for us today as we struggle with disagreements over Disciplinary paragraphs.  

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Repentance as Decolonization

During this quadrennium United Methodists are studying the acts of inhumanity that people have committed against indigenous peoples around the earth. Each annual conference is slated to have an “Act of Repentance” during a regular annual session.

Our Philadelphia Episcopal Area will join in this observance during both of its 2016 annual conferences (Eastern PA and Peninsula-Delaware). This gives us time to learn and reflect upon what has happened in the past, to repent and ultimately move toward reconciliation. 

At a recent conference at the United Nations Church Center in May 2014  the plight of indigenous peoples and the concept of “repentance as decolonization” was discussed. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uR7i5iWXBvA) As Native American people in the United States were “colonized” onto reservations and robbed of their land and ways of life, the act of decolonization would be the true fruit of repentance. 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

A Time to Love

"Time is
Too slow for those who Wait,
Too swift for those who Fear,
Too long for those who Grieve,
Too short for those who Rejoice.
But for those who Love,
Time is eternal."

Those verses penned in 1904 by poet, professor and statesman Henry van Dyke, a native of Germantown, Pa., are timely for us who remember "9/11," our national day of tragedy 13 years ago when brutal terrorists took over our skies, plunging hijacked airliners into the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington, DC. A small legion of American heroes prevented the hijackers of a third airliner, United Flight 93, from reaching their dreaded goal, mostly likely the U.S. Capitol, and instead forced them to crash into an empty field near Shanksville, Pa., killing all onboard.

Today on 9/11/14 there are memorials again being held at each crash site, remembering and mourning the thousands of fallen victims and our many heroes who responded at great risk to these attacks, including those who sacrificed their lives in Shanksville.

We wait desperately for an end to our war on terror, an end that may never come. We fear the rise of a new force of Islamic extremists, ISIS, now wreaking havoc, brutally murdering thousands, inflicting destruction across Iraq and Syria, and threatening to infiltrate Europe and America in their horrific campaign. The only question about this "existential threat," as some describe it, is not if but when.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Thankful for the Ministry of Bishop Martin McLee

My e-mail box and telephone have been filled with messages about the recent passing of Bishop Martin McLee, bishop of the New York Annual Conference.  He entered the church triumphant on Saturday, September 6, while on a leave of absence. 

We as a denomination and as individuals are filled with grief and disbelief as we process the news.  We reflect on the brevity of life but also the amazing impact one life can have and the awesome work that this bishop was able to accomplish in two short years. 

Bishop McLee was an advocate for justice in his conference and around the United Methodist Connection.  He brought new vision and leadership to the Northeastern Jurisdiction Multi-Ethnic Center for Ministry.  He handled a complaint around the issue of same-gender weddings with faithfulness and grace.  He preached with power in speech and song, often bursting into the chorus of a well-known hymn to accentuate his message.

Bishop McLee was a communicator.  Early on I figured out that he was great with text messages.  He always answered.  I would text “I am praying for you,” and he would respond, “It is getting better” or “God is with me.”  He was always filled with hope and positive energy that encouraged us all. 

Even during his illness and rehabilitation he looked upward and trusted in a God who provided for every need.  He would frequently address the body as “beloved” knowing that everyone is a precious child of God, no matter who they are; and in God’s love he embraced all.

I texted Bishop Martin on Saturday morning.  I thought it was strange that he did not answer me.  He always answered.  Seems that he answered the call from God to rise up to new life and a higher call in the kingdom of light. 

There is no telling what he is doing now, gifted with renewed strength and eternal life in heaven. We will join him someday. But on this day we pray for all who mourn across our Connection and especially for the New York Annual Conference, even as we celebrate the living legacy of his leadership in ministry there. 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

How Beautiful!

Christian vocalist Twila Paris recorded a song entitled “How Beautiful” a number of years ago.  In it she describes the body of Christ, not only Christ himself but his body, the church.  One line from the song came to mind during my recent visit to the Congo: “How beautiful when humble hearts give the fruit of pure lives so that others may live.” 

Bishop Johnson with Rev. Kumbe,
a D.S. in East Congo for six years
I saw this happening every day in the Congo during my 10-day tour.  Many are sacrificially preaching the gospel there with little or no salary.  One of the District Superintendents who just completed six years on the cabinet received $10 per month as her total compensation.  She has had no modern vehicle for transportation.  But even with the hardship of walking or riding a bike to visit her churches she also established five new congregations on her district during her tenure.
Our team had dinner with a Congolese pilot, Gaston Ntabamo, from the “Wings of the Morning” aviation ministry one evening.  He is one of our United Methodist missionaries who serves in the Congo.
Gaston Ntabamo, pilot

He makes numerous flights from the remote villages to the only full-service hospital in the area at no charge to the patients thanks to our United Methodist Mission giving.  He has saved hundreds of lives during his years of ministry.  In addition he serves as the pilot for many of the United Methodist bishops as they travel to areas where there are no passable roads. During the war in the Congo 10 years ago this pilot risked his life to evacuate stranded missionaries. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Standing our ground: 'We are all accountable'

On August 9 18-year-old Michael Brown, an unarmed African American youth in Ferguson, Mo., was fatally shot multiple times by police officer Darren Wilson. Bishop Minerva Carcaño, president of our General Commission on Race and Religion, responded in a public statement that, “We are all accountable for his death and accountable to the African American young people in our communities everywhere.”

That is so true. Michael was our child. So were Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis, two other teenagers killed by gun shots in 2012, their assailants acquitted of their deaths by Florida’s notorious Stand Your Ground law.  
Nine-year-old Antonio Davis of Chicago was slain just last Wednesday, August 21, by gun shots that tore through his young, innocent body as he likely sought to escape gang violence. He too was our child. And so were too many others taken from us in recent years in Chicago, Philadelphia, Baltimore and other cities and towns across our nation.
The quaking ground on which we must stand is our accountability to children and yes, adults, of African American and other races, who are victims of violence-random and senseless or premeditated and prejudicial, by law-breakers and law-keepers. We must assert clearly, loudly that every life has value and promise, especially every young life, even in the most unpromising circumstances.  
And the loss of each life, no matter how distant or disparate from us, diminishes us nonetheless. In the course of our prayers and anxious discourse, or even in our bewildered silence, that undeniable truth must strike a deep, solemn, reverberating chord in each of us.

Monday, August 11, 2014

My memorable visit to Smith Island

Perhaps the most unique appointment in the Peninsula-Delaware Conference or maybe even the entire connection is the Ewell-Smith Island Charge, located on the Salisbury District.  This three-point charge (Calvary –Rhodes Point, Ewell and Union – Tylerton) is served by the Rev. C. Richard “Rick” Edmund, and he is beginning his 15th year there as pastor.  It is accessible only by a 45-minute boat ride and every week
Pastor Rick goes by foot, by boat and by car to his churches, making the entire circuit each Sunday.  My husband Mike and I traveled there for a weekend in June and were joined by District Superintendent, Rev. Fred Duncan and his wife, Pat.  We were treated to some amazing hospitality.  These people are master chefs!  Imagine having crab omelets, Smith Island cake, maple-cured bacon, home-made rolls and peach ice cream!  
Everyone there travels around by golf cart, and there is a general store, a museum, an elementary school (with only 12 students), a few bed and breakfasts, and a lot that has to do with the work of watermen.  The main business on the island is of course catching crabs and oysters.  Everywhere you look there is water and fields of reed grasses and cranes and gulls gliding over-head.  No city noise, no glaring lights here….just sheer silence and the voices of nature.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

From meditation to mission: Postcards from the heart

May your summer be filled with rest, Sabbath, inner discoveries and engagement in different kinds of ministries.  Summer is often a time when churches have a slower pace, or perhaps just a different pace.  The same is true for my calendar in the coming weeks.  I will be taking some of the summer off as a renewal leave. 
During that time I hope to dedicate much time to prayer and contemplation.  During part of the renewal leave I am scheduled to be at the Bon Secours Spiritual Center in Marriottsville, Md., for a silent retreat.  I appreciate your prayers for my discernment, wisdom and a closer walk with the Lord.

During another part of the summer I will teach a course on “Disabilities and the Church” at three of our United Methodist Women's “Mission U” gatherings.  “Mission U” is the new name for what used to be the School of Christian Mission.  Two years ago I was contracted  by the United Methodist Women to write the text for this study, and I am happy to say that a study guide was added to it.  The “Mission U” participants will have an opportunity to study how we as a church can do a better job in ministry with people with disabilities. 

Friday, June 13, 2014

Happy Father's Day

I was visiting Doylestown UM Church recently and Pastor Mike told me that there had been a request by a father in the congregation to have a baby changing table in the men's restroom.  I was happy to hear that. Diaper changing can be done by both mothers and fathers.  
I was flying to St. Louis earlier this week as a dad and his little girl sat behind me.  For the entire two-hour flight this father entertained his child in loving ways, telling stories and playing games. He was immersed in his relationship with this lively daughter. 

Fathers are doing many practical acts of parenting in these present times.  I remember my own father was from a generation that did not change diapers, nor was he present in the labor room. Times were different then, but my dad did some great parenting in other ways.  His wisdom was a precious gift.

I remember there was a stream behind our house, and my sister and I spent hours trying to dam up the stream with piles of bricks and logs.  Somehow we thought we could stop the flow of water by our own efforts, but time and again the water would eventually pour over top of our finely crafted barricades and continue to flow downstream.  
My father took note of this and decided to teach us a lesson.  Instead of a barricade he built us a bridge.  It was a passageway over top of the stream.  The stream could keep doing its thing, and we could come and go on either bank using dad's bridge.

That was a lesson in life for me about managing fast-moving water, and later about managing conflicts.  Sometimes barricades do not work.  Sometimes they're not supposed to.  Dad's wisdom, taught with wood and nails, was this:  It is often better to build a bridge to cross over to the other side or even to meet in the middle, than to erect a barricade and try to stop a moving force of nature.  
This is a good option when conflict and confrontations prove to be fruitless.  Building bridges of understanding is the high road; a road I saw my dad take many times in his life.  He modeled bridge-building in many of his interpersonal relationships.  Romans 12:18 reminds us: "As far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all."

Happy Father's Day to all our fathers and father-figures!  Be nurturing, be wise, be role models for your children, for all children.  Build bridges for them, or with them.  And the lessons you teach by your good example could live on for a lifetime--indeed, for generations.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Hope is seeing young people answering the call to missions

Nothing gives me more hope for the future of the church of Jesus Christ than to see young people be involved in mission work. 
Becky Parsons is commissioned
by Global Ministries as a Church
and Community Worker in 2009

Last week I had breakfast with Rebecca Parsons.  She is a Church and Community Worker with the General Board of Global Ministries.  She works in Roanoke, Va., where she is the director of four after-school programs for low-income children.  They feed the children a hot meal, help with homework, engage in a number of educational programs and also have fun. 

Rebecca coordinates more than 250 volunteers, writes grants, sends kids to summer camp, visits her supporting churches, arranges transportation and helps families in need.  She says that mission work sometimes means standing with a fire marshal and listening to a list of what is wrong with a building so you can make the place safe for kids.  It is also about creating a place where there is singing and clapping and messiness and the church being signs of God’s love in the community. 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Education for Girls

Our hearts were kidnapped on April 14th along with nearly 300 Nigerian School girls who are being held captive by an Islamic militant organization known as Boko Haram.  The world is crying out for their release and there have been many protests, and cries from the leaders of all major countries are putting pressure on the Nigerian government to do more to bring them home.

Why were they abducted in the first place?  The term “Boko Haram” means “Western Education is forbidden.”  This group believes that girls should not be in school but should get married instead.  They teach that Western education corrupts the moral values of Muslims, especially girls.  

Not long ago in October of 2012 a Pakistani teenaged named Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head by Taliban extremists who had banned girls from attending school.  Amazingly she survived the ordeal and addressed the United Nations at a youth conference last year.  She said “I am here to speak up for the right of education for every child.  I want education for the sons and daughters of the Taliban and all terrorists and extremists.(en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malala_Yousafzai).

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Honoring Mothers by ‘Heeding God’s Call’

The words of Jeremiah 31:15 came to mind when I attended the “Heeding God’s Call” Good Friday Procession and Vigil:  “Thus says the Lord: A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping.  Rachel is weeping for her children.  She refuses to be comforted for her children, because they are no more.”

A group of about 150 people gathered in Sister Clara Muhammad Park to raise a cry on behalf of mothers and fathers who have lost their children and loved ones to gun violence in Philadelphia this year.  There were over 200 T-shirts displayed around the park, one for each of the slain, many of whom were children and young people.  They stood in a silent witness to us as a number of speakers shared their stories.

One mother explained about her 18 year old son, who was shot to death by mistake when there had been an argument at a party.  She said that this senseless killing has caused her and her family to rise up and do something to encourage citizens and lawmakers to get drugs and guns off the streets. 

Another woman shared that her son had been killed 25 years ago and she still attends rallies and speaks at schools and gatherings wherever she can to help people understand the importance of everyone doing their part to change things not only in Philadelphia but the entire nation.  Still another mother called on people to stop talking and start a movement that will make a difference. 

Friday, April 25, 2014

Africa University’s Good News

It is a joy to be a part of the United Methodist family because together we can do so much good.  Recently a team from the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry visited Africa University in Zimbabwe and one board member from our Episcopal Area, Mr. Demetrio Beach, was able to meet the students who received our scholarships. He presented them with Bibles (see photo below) and encouraged them to continue serving the Lord and improving the lives of people in their countries.

Here is one of the “thank you” letters from a student who received our scholarship money:

My name is Banza Mutunda Mimie.  I am female and the first born in a family of seven—four girls and three boys.  My father’s name is Kasongo Ndalamba Kate, and he is a pastor in the United Methodist Church in the North Katanga Annual Conference in Kamina, in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

I am a second-year student in the faculty of Health Sciences doing management studies at Africa University in Zimbabwe.  My objective at Africa University is to fulfill my dream, which I started in my country at the secondary level.  I have done nursing and would like to continue with the same idea, but majoring in management in order to become a manager in one of the medical organizations in my country (DRC). …(My country) has become vulnerable to diseases such as: HIV/AIDS, Malaria, Cholera, TB and others.  Due to these matters I was inspired to do my studies in the medical area in order to be a part of the development process that aids in the prevention of these diseases.

It is a great pleasure and an honor for me to write to you, my sponsor.  This letter is to inform you that you have made my dream alive in providing me with the scholarship.  Regarding my family possibility, I was hopeless to achieve my goals, but you have made it possible.  For this reason I and especially my family are really grateful for such unforgettable action that has inspired us.  Our prayer is to see God showing his blessing upon you and all your family.  Africa University is a blessing to me and the hope for the best future of my family and my country.” 

Saturday, April 19, 2014

'Let It Go'

At this year’s Academy Awards the soundtrack single that took first place was “Let It Go,” from the Disney movie “Frozen.”  This is a defiant song of liberation as Queen Elsa no longer holds back her ice-making powers.  She sings of freedom as she builds a spectacular palace of ice with flicks of her wrists.

Some of the lyrics whisper words of resurrection to me: “The fears that once controlled me can’t get to me at all.”  And “I’ll rise like the break of dawn.”  

The main message of Easter is resurrection, not only resurrection from bodily death but from death to our souls.  It is quite possible to be brain dead and yet bodily alive due to medical science.  It is equally true that people can be dead spiritually and in need of resurrection through faith in Christ. 

Christ not only brings us life eternal in heaven but spiritual resurrection of our earthly souls and minds while we are here walking on the earth.  Paul writes to the church in Ephesus: “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ. By grace you have been saved.” (2:4-5) Through faith we have the power to be free of sin and the bondage it holds on us.

Like the ice queen in the movie, prior to her liberating change of heart, we sometimes are bound by fear, by guilt, by doubts.  Even those who know the Lord fall back at times into an attitude of worry, having flashbacks to times when we have failed, looking around at friends and comparing ourselves, or casting a judgmental eye on the ministry of others or their theological beliefs.  All of that brings spiritual death, and we so easily allow it to entangle itself around our souls.

Let it go!  Let it go by once again claiming the freedom and deliverance that Christ offers us on a daily basis.  Let it go by giving up the need to “fix” others who disagree with us.  Let it go by living a life of thanksgiving and gratitude for the enormous cache of blessings that God has bestowed on us.   

This Easter as we sing “Christ the Lord Is Risen Today,” let us also sing “Let it Go!” And then let us go forth and live resurrected lives in Christ.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Choose Life

Easter is all about life!  I enjoy Easter the most when it falls later in the spring because the flowers and trees look so much more resurrected than when we have Easter in late March.  Easter is all about life and not just the rebirth of the nature around us but most importantly about the spiritual life that comes when people experience a resurrection in their soul through a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Spiritual resurrection is what the church is all about but sadly at times the church can become stagnant and more about preservation than about outreach and transformation.  When that happens it is on a path of death and uselessness. In a recent visit from the General Board of Global Ministries Rev. Patrick Friday addressed our mission conference with a compelling call to becoming a “movement” once again.  He showed a YouTube video clip (produced by ConnectnMission) entitled “The Movement” in which he described the resurrection decisions that John Wesley made that changed the world forever.  Wesley was a priest in the Church of England and for the Methodist movement to happen Wesley had to decide between:
  • The status quo (institution) or the uncertainties of a movement
  • The comfort of tradition or the adventure of experience
  • The security of a building or the passion of the people
  • The organization of the rich or a church of the poor
  • The life of stability or the life of unending persecution

Wesley chose the latter because of his “heart-warming” spiritual encounter with God and the Methodist Movement was born.  Still today the choices are before us.  The one brings sure death to our beloved church the other brings life, growth, transformation.  Ask yourself how does your church stack up against the choices that John Wesley made.  Where can you make some changes? The call is every before us to choose life…now is the time. 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Women’s History Month: Jarena Lee, A Pioneer Among Preachers

In Jean Miller Schmidt’s beautifully written book, Grace Sufficient: A History of Women in American Methodism (1760-1939), we read many accounts of sturdy Methodist women preachers.  One such woman, a true pioneer, was Jarena Lee of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church.

She was born in 1783 in Cape May, NJ, the daughter of free but very poor parents.  Jarena became a Christian at age 21 under the ministry of none other than the Rev. Richard Allen, founding minister of Bethel AME Church in Philadelphia and later the first AME bishop.  She felt a call to preach at that time and spoke to Allen about it; but he explained that the rules of Methodism did not “call for women preachers.”  He did  allow her to hold prayer meetings and exhort after sermons were preached. 
Jarena married the Rev. Joseph Lee, the pastor of a black church in Snow Hill, N.J., and they had two children.  Within six years there were a number of deaths in the family, including her husband, and she moved back to Philadelphia, where she again attended Bethel AME Church. 
During one Sunday service she stood up and began preaching after the preacher in the pulpit lost his train of thought.  Rev. Allen heard her impromptu, unexpected sermon. He was so moved that he endorsed her as truly called to preach. Jarena Lee thus began her itinerant ministry, starting in local house- churches before finally taking to the road to preach in New York, Maryland and Ohio.

Sometimes Jarena traveled on foot and depended on the hospitality of those she visited.  She received no salary. At one point she was able to connect with a group of Wyandotte Indians in Buffalo, N.Y., and when she preached to them through a translator, they found faith in Jesus Christ.