From Pakistan to Tennessee

A United Methodist Women scholarship helps a student find her path for creating change.

From Pakistan to Tennessee
Sharah Dass

My name is Sharah Dass, and I am a senior at Martin Methodist College in Pulaski, Tennessee. Born and raised in Pakistan, a nation with a Muslim majority, I never thought I would end up pursuing Christian theological education as a field of study.
I was brought up in a Christian family that prioritized church and God, I had built a close relation with God, and church was a significant part of my life. As a kid, I was a regular Sunday school student, and later became an active youth member, serving as treasurer for the young people of my church. My faith in God was always firm as a rock, but I lacked the theological knowledge and understanding of Christianity because I did not have access to good theological education in Pakistan. In January 2011, I enrolled at Martin Methodist College and took my first New Testament course. I saw myself opening up in my faith in ways I had never experienced before. Since then, I took theological courses every semester at Martin.

Combining Business and Theology

My next goal was to connect business and theology. I have always wanted to work closely with the church and help the Christian community in Pakistan. I decided to make religion a part of my curriculum, and with a major in accounting I decided to add a minor in religion and philosophy. These past four years that I have spent in college have helped me realize what I want to do in the future, and I have decided to pursue a Masters of Divinity and a Masters in Business Administration or Accounting and join the ordained ministry.
I feel my calling from God is in assisting churches in underdeveloped countries build sound financial systems that can help them run smoothly and support their members in time of need. In Pakistan, we hear of churches being bombed, destroyed and burned down. This not only damages the church physically but also affects the people involved both psychologically and financially. The church and the members involved in such devastating events need financial and moral support. If a church—like any business—has funds saved up and sound financial planning, this can help the reconstruction of the church, as well as support the poor and needy members who have lost their loved ones. The church may not be able to return loved ones, but I believe it has the power to support the community.
My theological study here has also made me think about young Christian women and men in Pakistan who do not receive this type of education. I would like to start having special Sunday school services that can give people the opportunity to learn more about theology and think deeply about their faith in God.

A Scholarship Paves the Way

My four years of college, my ideas today and my education in the U.S. were only possible because of the scholarship I received from United Methodist Women. My family and I greatly needed and appreciated the financial support I received every year. After growing up in a part of the world that is male dominated and has a patriarchal culture, coming to the U.S. and studying divinity was not an easy decision for me, for women cannot be ordained in Pakistan. I want to change the state of Christian women in my country, and I feel that they should be allowed to lead, just as women are leading in America. My United Methodist Women scholarship not only helped my education, but also helped me believe in my ideas, my future and the change I want to bring.

I would like to thank this organization, its members and everyone who was involved and donated toward these scholarships, for they have given women and minorities the chance to earn an education so they may change the world they live in. Mahatma Gandhi once said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world,” and by pursuing ordained ministry myself I will be able to bring other women toward this change. A scholarship from United Methodist Women has affirmed my work and my call from God.

Sharah Dass is a United Methodist Women scholarship student from Pakistan. She is currently a senior at Martin Methodist College in Pulaski, Tennessee.

Posted or updated: 3/27/2014 11:00:00 PM
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