By Ingrid Cook
James 2:14-18 NIV
14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. 18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.
The United Methodist Women are concentrating on four areas of study. They include maternal and children’s health, equity for women, mass incarceration of women, and climate justice. We learned a little about the outreach in maternal and children’s health during Mission Moments. Now we will hear about the other three areas.
Women have always struggled for equity in all areas of their lives: education, employment, housing, and the rights to property, finances, and family decisions. There is a saying, “If you educate a man you educate an individual, but if you educate a woman you educate a family than a nation.
An educated woman is better able to educate her own children who, in turn, will be more likely to receive school education themselves. The family will be healthier, with a lower prospect of infant mortality and better nutrition.
An educated woman’s household will prosper as a result of a higher overall income. Just one extra year of secondary education can increase a woman’s income as much as 25% a year, leading to greater wealth for her community as well.
We will take one country NEPAL, and learn how the United Methodist Women have helped to empowered women and girls. The April 2015 earthquake ravaged thousands of Nepal’s mountain villages leaving 9,000 people dead and 650,000 families homeless. With reduced incomes families had no money for the daughter’s education. United Methodist Women works with two other organizations to give scholarships to girls to continue their studies. The girls often have to travel miles to the cities to attend classes related to medicine, social services, technology, education and more.
Lama, who is the first young woman in her village to pass the difficult 10th grade examination said, “I want to build my community into a better pace and inspire other girls to study. If things are going to get better here, it will happen because we young women get an education.”
Soni who is studying to be a physician said, “I want to serve my community as a doctor.
This area has been neglected by the government and anyone with health needs has to travel a long distance. I want to open a health center here so people can get attention when they need it.”
United Methodist Women are persistent in bringing equity and justice to women.
United Methodist Women are concerned about the mass incarceration of women. Members find ways to help women in prison. They develop programs for the children of incarcerated mothers and advocate for change in the system that destroys family life and perpetuates the cycle of crime and imprisonment.
There are many statistics. The United States imprisons the most women in the world. The U.S. has less than 5% of the world’s population but over 23% of the world’s incarcerated people. Most women, over 80%, are incarcerated for nonviolent crimes. The women pose a lower public safety risk than men. Two thirds of the women are mothers of minor children.
Once women are incarcerated they have a criminal record that haunts them after they are released.
It is harder for them to get employment, housing, public assistance, and health care. They often reenter prison because of technical violations of parole, not because of a violent crime.
Children of incarcerated mothers face trauma, shame, stigma and the feeling of abandonment. It is said that incarceration is the greatest threat to child well-being in the U.S. One in ten children in the U.S. has an incarcerated parent.
The cycle of poverty, limited education, crime, and incarceration is a revolving door when money continues to be spent on construction and maintenance of prisons instead of education, job training, health, and parenting skills that lead to release without recidivism.
United Methodist women are persistent in advocating the rights and rehabilitation of incarcerated women.
The climate of the world is changing and we are all part of the change. We have a responsibility to see how we are contributing to global warming and make changes in our life styles that leave a smaller “carbon foot print”. The United States has 5% of the world’s population and accounts for 25% of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions. As individuals we can do the small things like recycling, non-use of Styrofoam products, walking more. On the larger scale we can divest of fossil fuel stocks, support organizations that work for climate justice, and write our Congressmen.
We have all heard the stories of melting glaciers, sea levels rising, devastating floods, and prolonged drought bringing devastating hardships to people around the world. Especially in third world countries this relate directly to people having clean water, safe and secure housing, ample food supply, cultural stability. Often women and children bare the most hardships from these climate related tragedies.
Many of us are parents and grandparents. We will leave a legacy for the next generations.
Listen to a poem that express a mother’s concerns and hopes for children’s lives.
The world is changing fast and we can’t get off.
So we must hold on as it seems to spin out of control.
You represent hope but I have to give you time.
I have to help the cause to slow the spinning down.
Together we need to work to slow the course of change
So you will have the time to stop the destructive pace.
In the midst of doom ad gloom we must find a faithful way
To educate and mobilize the doubters and skeptic ones.
For the sake of all creation, we must save the fragile earth
So you have a place to live, for with hope I gave you birth.
United Methodist Women are persistent in working for climate justice.