My Faith Journey
My United Methodist Women roots began more than 60 years ago in a small country church in eastern Arkansas. I was born of Chinese immigrant parents who spoke limited English. They did not attend the community church because of the language barrier, but my father supported the church financially and encouraged me to attend church. As children we often sang hymns at home in the evening, and my mother would read the Bible and pray.
The small Methodist church I attended was the only church in the little town with a population of 197. It had a group consisting of 10 women called the Woman’s Missionary Society, which has come to be known as the United Methodist Women.
Several of the ladies in that group influenced my spiritual life tremendously. One of the women was my Sunday school teacher, one was like a mother to me, and one was my first grade teacher and later became my principal in my first job as a first grade teacher. They took care of me as if I were their own. As a young child, they invited me to come to church gatherings, and I loved sitting at their feet at the missionary society meetings and listening to their Bible studies and their concerns for the community.
As I look back, this reminds me of how women sat at Jesus’ feet to hear the message he gave. As I grew older, I wished to someday be like these women who gathered to study the Bible and discuss how to serve others. One of the ladies in particular drove six hours to attend a School of Christian Mission every summer. She eventually became the treasurer of the Arkansas Woman’s Missionary Society.
Such experiences and influences have had a great impact on my life as God’s servant. In 1960, I moved to the Los Angeles area and started attending Chinese United Methodist Church. Shortly after arriving at the church I became active. I became Sunday school superintendent and then a member of the Woman’s Society of Christian Service. I saw the women there serve the church and the Chinatown community.
Through the years, I have held various positions in the church and in United Methodist Women. I was lay delegate to the California-Pacific Annual Conference, chairperson of the California-Pacific Asian Caucus and a member of the first board of directors for the Chinatown Service Center. Today, I am president of the local unit of the United Methodist Women.
Our unit supports local missions as well as district and conference mission projects. One project we sponsor is the English-as-a-second-language class offered every Sunday morning at our church for two and half hours for immigrants who wish to learn English. I am entering my 26th year of teaching this class. Students come from the Chinatown community and surrounding areas to attend the class to learn basic English skills. Some of the students have felt comfortable enough and have moved on to community college classes, and some have gotten jobs as seamstresses, pattern makers, clerical workers and restaurant managers.
Another project that our United Methodist Women sponsors is feeding the homeless on Los Angeles’ Skid Row. We cook and serve the food on Sundays. After feeding, we clean the streets and areas where the homeless have discarded their trash. A few have come back to say that they are enrolled in trade schools and have a job.
In my own community, which is 40 minutes away from Los Angeles, I strive to make a better life for someone. I volunteer as a tutor for children from grades 1 to 6 at the local library and have volunteered as a teacher in the local domestic violence shelter.
I love giving to others, and I feel I have learned this through the Woman’s Missionary Society, Woman’s Society of Christian Service and United Methodist Women. If I did not have the influence of the women in my early years, I don’t believe I would have recognized the gifts God has given me to serve the people of the world.
Mabel Low is president of United Methodist Women at Chinese United Methodist Church in Los Angeles, Calif.