After returning from Bose Monastery last week where I met many people whom I’d like to know better, SB suggested that I pick a few and recommend that you get to know them too – if only on social media. They will expand your horizons and inspire your souls. Also, most of them have the super power I covet: they speak multiple languages. Here we go . . .
Moumita Biswas is Executive Secretary of the All India Council of Christian Women in the National Council of Churches in India specializing in Gender Justice issues. We should all know her because she is a funny and fearless kick ass leader who has experience working against human trafficking and other violence against women. And she has stories that shed light on the efforts that South Asian women are making every day to overcome cultural hurdles.
Julie Kandema serves as Vice President and Church Growth Coordinator of the Presbyterian Church of Rwanda. If you’ve ever struggled with forgiving someone who has hurt you deeply, read about the reconciliation between Rwandans in light of the genocide of over one million Tutsi and moderate Hutu in 1994. This ministry is no joke. Julie’s entire being exudes calm and dignity. We can learn so much from her and even in the throes of dealing with the soul-crushing, she has a light touch in relationships.
Fulata Moyo is Programme Executive for women in Church and Society at the World Council of Churches in Geneva. She is an expert in Gender and Sexual Ethics, and she taught us how to prepare and eat caterpillars. (Still not convinced but I would do almost anything else this woman told me to do.) She is very funny and brilliant and you might be able to catch her speaking as a visiting scholar somewhere in the United States or beyond. You would love her.
Rola Sleiman made international news on February 26, 2017 when she became the first Arab woman ordained to the office of Minister of Word and Sacrament by the National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon. She serves the Presbyterian Church in Tripoli, Lebanon. When I first spotted her at the conference in Italy, I was almost tongue-tied. “Are you Rola Sleiman?” (She is totally Church Famous but the most humble of Rock Stars.) Also she is very funny.
Liz Vuadi Vibila is a theologian, sociologist, and Presbyterian clergywoman from the Republic of the Congo. She is currently a professor in Sri Lanka and a global expert in Education, Ethics, Gender, Health, Human Rights, Justice, Poverty, and Religion. And she too is a funny and warm colleague.
Are you noticing a pattern here?
Each of these leaders deal with heart-wrenching human issues every day, but they are neither morose nor hopeless about their ministry. There is nothing funny about sexual violence or genocide. But they are light-hearted. They are funny in a warm way. And their good humor balances life’s heaviness with life’s need to relate to each other.
Al Gini wrote in The Importance of Being Funny “humor is a necessary ingredient in the ethical equation of learning to live with others.” Such humor must be authentic and is never at the expense of others of course. But we cannot deal with the crushing realities of life without being in relationship with each other. And the five women I’ve mentioned here are also experts in connecting with people in ways that build community against the ravages of life. Check them out. They are each a sign of God’s grace.
PS The MacArthur Genius Grants were announced this morning. We should know these people too. (AAM: Every day’s a school day.)
Image of some of my sisters from the Ecumenical Consultation on the Role of Women in the Church at the Bose Monastery in Magnano, Italy last week.