Jonell Carol Johnson
What a blessing to meet with the AME Women in Chennai last week. I was especially blessed to meet so many young people on fire for the Lord. Hearing their testimonies of how they share their faith in their day to day encounters. It was a word for the USA Churches. We have to do more daily to share our faith with others. I want to thank the young ladies who patiently helped me to learn the dances. It was good for my bones to try and move like that. I would also like to commend the pastors who made the journey to greet us. Their testimonies showed the marvelous works the Lord is doing through each of them. And the signs and wonders that follow them. God Be with you until we meet again.
Carole Copeland Thomas
Testimonial From Carole Copeland Thomas Traveling to India seemed like such a fantasy for me a few short years ago. The people, customs and cultures seems amazingly unique, almost exotic. It was the very destination I always wanted to visit. I wrote about it in my 2012 book on multiculturalism and even devised a plan in that book to systematically save money for a future trip to my dream destination. When Rev. Cecilia Bryant invited me to join one of her district’s trip to India, I smiled, thanked her for the offer and silently knew that I couldn’t afford to travel with them at that time. But the seed had been planted. So in 2014 when my pastor, Rev. Ray Hammond, invited our congregation, Bethel AME Church in Boston, to join him on his next trip to India, I immediately said, YES! Something deep inside demanded that I not miss this golden opportunity. We were scheduled to join Bishop John and Rev. Cecilia Bryant and their district as they attended the Annual Conference activities in Chennai, India. And now, having completed two trips to India and preparing for my third trip in February 2016, I understand that the Lord had ordered my steps by directing my path to this wonderful land of diversity and beautiful people. The Indians are warm captivating people with a multicultural range of textures, religions, ethnicities and perspectives. And the story of how 20 small Indian churches morphed into over 125 inside of 12 short years, now fully recognized as part of the connectional AME Church, is only a testament to God’s grace and connection to us all. It’s the best under-told story our community has to offer! All started by two women in 2003, one Indian and one African American AME student, who met and became friends in a Chennai, India graduate theology program. How God brought them together in a sisterly bond is quite remarkable. And the blessings keep overflowing when I now call Rev. Karla Cooper, Presiding Elder Sarah Peddiny and her husband Presiding Elder Abraham Peddiny dear friends and trusted advisors. I just think about that seed planted a few short years ago now carefully taking root and blossoming so beautifully. Leading a group of 37 women on my second trip to India still puts many smiles on my face. It was a trip endorsed by my church’s missionary society, along with the unanimous vote they took to support one of the 25 Educational Centers that are a part of AME India. Now for a second year in a row, I will be leading the 2016 return trip to Chennai, with a very special visit to the Bethel Educational Center in Thirumani Village, India. Only God could orchestrate such special connections. Only God! So in the days, months and years ahead, I pray for God’s rich blessings on the ministries of both Rev. Karla Cooper and Presiding Elders Sarah and Abraham Peddiny. My world is so much bigger because I took the leap of faith and traveled to meet my new friends of AME India. May God continue to bless them in marvelous and wonderful new ways! Carole Copeland Thomas, MBA, CDMP, CITM