Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Living out Loud Helped Me to Hear God

I’ve spent my entire life in a smaller town of 25,000 people attending the same First United Methodist Church downtown each Sunday. What has made my faith journey interesting is the experiences I have been blessed with on a regular basis. Before I graduated from high school I had visited six countries, encountered many cultures, and spent five summers doing mission trips rebuilding homes for the poor but never thought that through all of the uplifting communities I would find myself feeling lost, distant from God, and a stranger to Jesus. I never thought that through all of the empowerment of service as a young person I would become unable to find God for myself.

As a college student I attended Student Forum each year and even made a trip to Isreal/Palestine for a Holy Land tour in March of this year and I had never felt more disenchanted with organized religion in my life. It was heartbreaking watching the intensely different religious groups inside Jerusalem live together in peace but outside of that closely bonded community people are killing each other in the name of God and the U.S. is quickly becoming famous for persecuting Muslims for no reason. I always wondered, what is keeping us from a holy unity? I became even bitterer after attending Student Forum this year, and not because it was a bad experience but because it was a wonderful experience as usual but I knew that the Global organization could never become as passionate about change and progress as we could when we got together. Even in our differences we could create lasting conversation. Even when we got riled up and tried to throw out the rules our intent was to continue the process and discussion. Then I met someone from OnFire at the event and I knew this was my year-round connection to the passion I had for lasting peace and justice.

Attending my annual conference in Kansas City this year made me realize that it was my job to bring these issues to a greater audience and that, as daunting as it seems, change began with me. I lived what I believed in, I had just never had the courage to discuss it with complete strangers until I went to the Kansas East annual conference. I decided that, after introductions and the niceties were over, I would ask an open ended question and If the answer was different from mine I would politely ask “why?” and continue to listen because even our opposition has a right to be heard. (Reconciling Ministries taught me that.)

So today I know that through my struggle to find God I had to dig deep and search intentionally because I now have a deeper relationship with others and a greater relationship with God than I ever imagined.

Sarah is pictured here with other young adults and pastors from Kansas at Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem.

Sarah Roemer will be a senior at Emporia State University in Kansas and majors in Psychology with an emphasis in Pediatric Developmental Disability and Autism. She works with developmentally disabled adults though Auspision Agency and is a member of the Kansas area Board of Church and Society and is a delegate to her annual conference (which will become the Kansas/Nebraska Ecumenical Area). Sarah is also a member and Conference attendee of Interfaith Youth Core in Chicago.

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