Gemima Joseph: Year 3

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Gemima Joseph: Year 3

I’m into year three of my studies and so much has happened. I’m sure much has changed for you as it has for me. I graduated from JCCC in May with an Associate of Arts. With help from my advisor, the majority of my classes transferred to Washburn University. JCCC has been a wellspring of blessings. Although I lived far away from campus, my extracurricular activities have enriched my experience. My new-found interest in grassroots movement in Haiti began with a couple honors symposium and presentations I did my second year at JCCC. I had to do a lot of research and ask tons of questions about Haiti that I thought I knew, but in reality, I was very oblivious about.  My greatest achievement, in addition to doing honors, was working as a Student Admissions Ambassador. In addition to having an income, having this job help built my understanding of true leadership, representation, relational hierarchy, marketing and school pride. All this, coupled with regular attendance in clubs like Intervarsity Christian Fellowship and the Black Student Union heightened my understanding of who I am and how much I know, and more importantly how much more I have to learn.

Furthermore, the community that I’ve had during my time at JCCC really left a mark on me. I have received so much kindness from friends and professors who performed above what they needed to and went with me the extra mile. I graduated JCCC with close friends and family. I’m grateful that two of my brothers were able to attend. It was awesome, even with the unfortunate tornado weather! Needless to say, I’ve had an impeccable experience at JCCC. 

From this, things took a slight turn. A week after graduation, I had some unexpected health issues rise and I had to go to the ER twice. This is mainly due to a large uterine fibroid that I didn’t know I had, anemia, and constipation. I’ve been gradually recovering since then and have been intentional about my dietary plan and medicine. As of now, the plan is to take certain medicine to reduce the fibroid so I wouldn’t need to have surgery, but it’s all still unsure until I have more check-ups down the road.  

Not too long after leaving Lawrence Memorial hospital, my host family (the Prices) helped put together a garage sale for me. This kind gesture helped pay for some of my classes this fall. I had a quick transition from there. Through my friend, Matt Vincent, I was put in contact with a church friend (Debbie) who has graciously offered to host me here in Topeka during the rest of my studies at Washburn. Since last August, I started classes at Washburn University. I live 17 mins away from campus and this is a perk compared to the two hours commute I previously had. This semester, I’m enrolled in 15 credit hours consisting mostly of government and nonprofit management classes. If you know me well, you know I’ve been overjoyed with this schedule my advisor put together for me. For someone who’s pretty indecisive, I’m proud and in love with my major of Public Administration, which you don’t hear too often on college campuses. I can’t put into words how critical my time at JCCC has been. I am hoping the last three years and these upcoming ones are working together to open doors for a much brighter future for myself and my family.  

Thankfully, I am more than halfway through my studies and I am hoping to finish stronger than when I started. Compared to the community college I transferred from, Washburn is expensive, even with the scholarships I have received. As an international student, I’m not eligible for full time employment, off-campus employment, or student loans which is why this would not be possible without your generous contributions. For me to complete my education, I need to raise about $6500 per semester. This amount covers 15 credit hours each semester, mandatory insurance, and other pertinent school fees. This is still a discounted amount because of scholarships. While I’m financially unable to cover all the cost, I’m planning to continue searching for as many scholarships as possible to lower the cost and for my part-time job to provide for my personal needs. I’m still finalizing some paperwork with my advisor before I have a definite graduation date set, but I’m expecting it to be spring of 2021. Please consider donating to help me with academic and medical expenses. Checks can be made to The Oasis Project with education in the memo section and a separate note with my name on it. It takes a village and your sweat is well considered and is not taken for granted.  

Equally important is your prayers. I’m requesting prayers for four specific things in this season. First, I’m trying to be consistent and  continue in close proximity with God and keeping that a priority in my life. College keeps me busy and I have a pretty demanding schedule. My second and third request is prayers of financial provision for my family and citizens of Haiti. As you may have seen recently, Haiti is in turmoil….. Again. It’s unbearable to watch. I’m asking God to work in the hearts of its citizens and elected officials to make wise and selfless decisions and for the protestors to consider alternative methods to change instead of violence. There’s a loud plea from our people for the injustice happening and a greater need for security and economic opportunities. Lastly, I’m asking prayers for clarity and provision with my future as I wrap up my studies down the road and close a chapter of my life. I always love hearing from you all and I’m immensely blessed by your friendship and love of service to Him. 

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From the Director's Desk

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From the Director's Desk

Recently, I started a book on poverty alleviation (In the River They Swim). That always prompts the question of how we engage in God-honoring acts of justice and compassion, particularly in a setting of huge injustice. There are so many layers and complexities to injustice and poverty that it is good to constantly question if we are doing the right thing in the right way for the right reasons. When those questions start, a passage in Job 29 is a good reset button for me. 

At this point, Job and his 3 friends have gone around a few times and Job is on a discourse where he longs for the former times when God watched over him and he was honored by the people of his community. In verses 11-17 he tells us why: “When they heard me, they blessed me and when they saw me, they spoke well of me. For I rescued the poor who cried out for help and the fatherless child who had no one to support him. The dying blessed me, and I made the widow’s heart rejoice. I clothed myself in righteousness and it enveloped me; my just decisions were like a robe and a turban. I was eyes to the blind and feet to the lame. I was a father to the needy and I examined the case of the stranger. I shattered the fangs of the unjust and snatched the prey from his teeth.”

In verse 12, the word Hebrew word translated as “rescued” means that Job delivered the poor and orphans from danger. Sometimes, in our effort to serve well, we do too much and ultimately create a dependency. However, righteous Job did not do everything for the poor and the fatherless, he stepped in when there was real need, a dangerous situation. This thought provides clarity for my own actions: Is the situation critical where “stepping in” is necessary? Or, does it simply make me feel good to help in every way possible? I am learning that following my feelings is not always the best path for effective service. 

Job was such a positive presence that a dying man blessed him, and his widow’s heart rejoiced (Vs 13). Clearly, Job was present and active in people’s deepest and darkest hours. He was there when it counted most. Job says: “I was eyes to the blind and feet to the lame” (Vs 15). He’s not just giving handouts; he is deeply involved with people in an effective and essential way. He helps them see and he helps them walk. This reminds me of our Oasis project. We desire to help the young men and women aging out of the Lifeline orphanage see their lives in a different way and walk a path that leads to self-sufficiency, not dependency. Job cared for needy people in the same way a father cares for his children (Vs 16). Having raised two children, I learned early on that doing everything for them does not benefit their growth. It stunts them and makes them dependent. 

I absolutely love the intent and the imagery of verse 14. Job’s life of righteousness and justice is very intentional. He puts them on like his clothing! I have left the house without my keys, or my wallet, or my phone; but I have never left the house without my clothes. And, I have never put on clothes without thinking about what I’m putting on. There is intentionality and purpose to what each of us put on every morning. Job intentionally and purposefully put on righteousness and justice each day. His righteousness and justice are rooted in right relationships. The righteousness that fuels his effective compassion comes first from a right relationship with God. God says that Job is “blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil” (Job 1:8). From that foundation, Job’s life is characterized by righteousness and justice in his relationships with others. 

The question becomes: How do we translate Job’s example into organizational action? Job’s life shows that effective compassion and justice are characterized by righteousness in his relationships with others. We do not have all the answers on how best to serve in Haiti, but we know that it starts with our relationship to a God who can do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20). That’s the bullseye, the center of our target. The concentric rings out from our center include relationships among the staff and Board, our Haitian partners and the children they serve with such dedication, and those that support this ministry through prayer, service and financial gifts. From the life of Job, justice will prevail when all these relationships are centered in God and characterized by His righteousness.

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