SSU of the Month: Nkebesse

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Racism as an International Student

Sisters, meet Nkebesse, a former SSU. Originally from Central Africa, Kebele was an international student in Kenya, Canada, and America. Today, we talk about experiencing racism in the foreign countries she studied in and how she dealt with it.

How did you pick the countries where you’re studied in?
Kenya was picked by my father, we went there as a family so I had no say in that. For Canada, I had friends that were studying there and liked the place, so I was convinced. My family and I picked America because I love the country (I was there before) and the program I wanted to continue in was more developed in the States than Canada, so I went there.

What were your first impressions of the people in those countries?
Well, let me just say that my opinion does not generalize the entire citizens of those nations. I will just speak in terms of the people I got in contact with.
Kenya: Personally, I thought that Kenyans in the capital city were not too welcoming, it’s funny I’m as African as they are but everywhere I went, especially when I took public transportation, I always got “the stare”. That made me so uncomfortable, I mean I’m not white, I’m just brown-skinned and so why were people looking at me so differently? I was later on told that “the stare” was because people knew that I was foreign. That did not make sense to me at all. Another thing, when talking to Kenyans, they always made me feel like I was not their own, even though we shared the same continent. So, it was just not pleasant. On the other hand, when I visited other cities, I noticed that the people there were happy to see a foreign woman and I never got “the stare”. They treated me well.
Canada: Canadians, I would say are very reserved. They are probably in between, they are neither welcoming nor hostile, they’re just in between. They’re neither friendly nor enemies, just in between.
America: I saw a great difference in America, the people are very friendly and welcoming, they will talk to a stranger as if they were talking to an old friend, they will just go on and on. Americans are willing to help you out no matter the condition you’re in, they are so open that it’s unbelievable. However, I realized that when it comes to money, don’t mess with an American’s pocket, because  they will show you a different face. But overall, they set the difference for me.

What was your experience as a Black woman in those countries?
Kenya: In Kenya (in the capital city), being a foreign woman, as stated earlier, I got a lot of stares and the people just made me realized how “foreign” I was.
Canada & America: I didn’t feel any difference in Canada as a Black woman because Blacks are part of the society and the Black immigration rate is high.

How was your first racial experience like? Your reaction?
Let me say this, on a normal day, when someone of a different race is hostile to me, I don’t automatically associate that with racism. I always think that the person is either having a bad day, is naturally mean, or has had bad experiences with Blacks, that’s why he has set guards. I don’t think much about racism because I think this is just a way for the media and politics to divide people.
Kenya: At my school, I often had a lot of Western teachers who were bluntly saying negative things about Africans or treated Black students differently than White ones; hence, it was plainly an evidence of racism. My friends and I were very angry at their attitudes, but who could we report them to when the principal himself was a Westerner? I used to pray a lot that the Lord would touch their heart and He eventually did. Sometimes during the yearly parent-teacher session, my mother would address the issue to the teachers who were embarrassed and later repented.
Canada and America: Not that I remember of, again I could have faced it but I probably did not take it as racism because I didn’t see it as an obvious act. Maybe once in America, a White guy made a statement about how he preferred light-skinned Black women as opposed to dark ones, but I didn’t take it to heart, I knew he was just ignorant and I let him be.

How could you tell that someone was being racist to you as opposed to just being mean?
As mentioned earlier, I never treat people as racist on any given day. Unless, you boldly make a racist comment or treat me differently than the next person who is of different race, then I will be obliged to associate your behavior with racism.

What lessons did you learn as a Black woman?
I never see myself as a ‘Black’ woman, I always see myself as a woman created and loved by God just like any other woman. God has gifted me with the same potentials like any other woman. So, there’s no lesson to learn as a ‘Black’ person but in everything, I learn lessons as a child of God and as a woman; always striving to be better and challenge myself.

Any advice for international SSU?
Before going to a country, please, please, learn in depth about the culture, values, and beliefs of the people. I have seen many international students having a vague idea about a country and once there, they experienced great harassment from the people who were very hostile to foreigners. If you are already in a country where there is great racism, move to a different and better one if possible. Otherwise if not possible, pray, pray, and pray. Rebuke the spirits of racism that are on the constant attack of foreigners. Pray for protection and continued strength. Stand firm in the Lord and reciprocate love with hatred.

SSU of the Month: Franchelle

SSU Special Edition: Life After Graduation
“What is my Life Purpose?”

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Sisters, meet Franchelle, a former SSU and Law graduate!
Usually after graduation, it is that time when we seek for a life purpose. In university, we had one goal: Graduate. Now that this is done, then what? How do we find God’s purpose for our life? What are we supposed to be in life? Is there a higher calling than just having a regular job? This is what our conversation with Franchelle is about today. Continue reading “SSU of the Month: Franchelle”

SSU of the Month: Joanna

School & Love: Can the Two Go Hand in Hand?

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Sisters, meet Joanna, a former SSU.
It is a common trend on university campuses to see ladies involved in romantic relationships with men: some do it for love, while others to fit in the culture, or kill their loneliness. What should SSU’s behavior be in the midst of all this? I invite you to follow our conversation with Joanna who fell in love in school. Continue reading “SSU of the Month: Joanna”

SSU of the Month: Lala

How to be Led by the Holy Spirit?

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Sisters, meet Lala, is a former SSU with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration .
Our discussion of the day is on being led by the Holy Spirit. The Lord Jesus said that apart from Him we can do nothing; yet, many of us still try to live holy lives by our own efforts. No wonder we get discouraged, overwhelmed, and defeated along the way. Today, we’ll hear a testimony on being a child of God and walking by the Holy Spirit. Continue reading “SSU of the Month: Lala”

SSU of the Month: Sara

“Overcoming Temptations in College: Getting into Debt”

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Sisters, meet Sara, a former SSU.
Our discussion of the day is on debt. Outside of tuition loans, students can easily get into debt  (e.g. credit card debt, loan from family and/or friend) depending on the situation they find themselves in. Sara went through financial struggles all through her undergraduate and graduate school seasons, let’s see how she dealt with the temptation of getting into debt.
Continue reading “SSU of the Month: Sara”

SSU of the Month: Jessica

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“Following Campus Culture vs Following God”

Every school is defined by a particular behavior, style, or reputation that at times can clash with God’s values. What should a Christian student do? Follow the crowd in order to be accepted or resist the current to be approved by God? Sisters, meet Jessica, a former SSU student, who’ll share with us her experience dealing with these questions in university. Continue reading “SSU of the Month: Jessica”

SSU of the Month: Jolie

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End Times Special Edition

 

“Becoming More Like Jesus Through Trials & Sufferings”

Sisters, meet Jolie, a former SSU, currently working as a Certified Nursing Assistant. If we call ourselves ‘Christians’, it literally means that we are followers of Christ, then why is it that the majority of Christians don’t want to endure persecutions and sufferings like Jesus did? Today’s chat looks at the way trials and sufferings make us more like Jesus.

How can you describe your overall journey with Christ?
It’s been an interesting journey I must tell you. When I became born-again, I wanted a change of life and experience God for myself; through the years, I have learnt so many things that I never expected, a times through the hardest ways ever. But overall, it’s been a rewarding journey, I’m grateful that Jesus saved me.

Acts 14:22 says “we must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.” How has your experience been?
I agree 100% with this verse because I went and still am going through tribulations. Personally, tribulations for me have come from my relatives who are hard-core witches and wizards. Literally, these relatives have tormented our family for ages; at first, when we were new in the faith, we didn’t have discernment and didn’t know their evil practices, consequently, they capitalized on our ignorance to consistently attack us both spiritually and physically. They have created divisions amongst us in the family, fought with us in dreams, or even come in spiritual forms in our houses. Sorry I don’t mean to scare anyone but this is just to give an idea of the kinds of tribulations my family and I are exposed to. The more we grew up in the faith, the more we learnt to stand firm in prayer and resist these relatives through spiritual warfare; it’s been a long journey and it hasn’t ended yet.

In your opinion, why has this battle lasted this long? And how have you changed during these trying times?
For two reasons I will say. First, if this battle had only lasted a week or two, my family and I wouldn’t have really taken spiritual warfare seriously, we wouldn’t have learnt much through the experience. The fact that it’s lasted all these years has taught us so many lessons such as dependence on the Holy Spirit, faith, perseverance, patience, submission to God, joy, and peace. These are values we wouldn’t have acquired if the journey was short. Some people at times say “oh let’s pray that God will stop the persecution.” I smile at these kinds of prayer requests because persecutions are actually healthy for a Christian in order to grow and become more like Jesus. If we live a tranquil life, how can we become spiritually mature? Even in schools, our professors put us through hard work so we can become the best. Second reason, I believe our Heavenly Father is being patient for my relatives’ sake as He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent (2 Peter 3:9). About the changes in my life, I echo the values highlighted earlier, patience, peace, perseverance, submission, etc.

Do you think you could have gotten to the level you’re at without these tribulations?Absolutely not! It’s as if someone says “I want to become fit”, yet doesn’t want to exercise. No matter how many times this person repeats it to himself, the fitness will not happen. The person needs to go through the workouts to achieve the desired results. The same goes with our walk with Christ; I could not have made progress in my faith without the tribulations. Tribulations are the avenue that takes me to my desired results of becoming more like Christ. Philippians 1:29 calls it a privilege to suffer for Christ, “for you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for Him.”

Should every believer go through this path of trials and suffering in order to get to Heaven, or is this just reserved for some children of God?
Going back to Acts 14:22, Paul said that we must enter the kingdom of God through many tribulations. He didn’t say we ‘can’ or ‘may’ enter the kingdom of God. Tribulations are a must if we want to know Jesus intimately and enter the kingdom of God. In Matthew 7:21, Jesus said “not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven…And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me.” Those who said “Lord, Lord” were individuals who went to church, served in ministries, or performed miracles in Jesus’ name, yet, Jesus rejected them because they didn’t have a personal relationship with Him. How can that relationship be reinforced if not through trials and suffering? The Christians who avoid tribulations will not inherit the kingdom of God because they didn’t follow the path of Christ. So, tribulations are for all those who are serious about being like Christ.

Why doesn’t the majority of Christians see their life in Jesus the way you’ve just portrayed it? I mean for the mainstream Christian, being a child of God is to live comfortably and pray for God to fulfill their desires.
For some Christians, I will say it’s due to Hosea 4:6, they perish for lack of knowledge. They don’t spend time reading and studying the Bible for themselves and as a result, they accept whatever is taught to them in church. The Spirit will only reveal these hidden truths in the Bible to those who show interest. For other Christians, they purposely avoid trials and sufferings; they want to be comfortable and just enjoy themselves. And for this category, the Father will not also allow them to be transformed in His Son’s image. Consequently, they become blinded by the devil thinking that the Christian journey should be smooth, easy, full of enjoyment, and prosperity.

What advice do you have for SSU?
I will say to SSU: “Stop calling yourselves Christians if you don’t want to become more like Christ!” It’s the hard truth and they have to face it. So many ladies are out there dishonoring the Christian name because they are avoiding trials and sufferings and thus, they live shallow lives. Being a Christian is more than just a title or a statement you post on Facebook; it’s about willing to take up our cross daily as Jesus said in Matthew 16:24. SSU need to count the cost, is it worthy to go through tribulations to become more like Jesus and enjoy the presence of the Holy Spirit, or is it more profitable to live easily and safely? Choose this day whom you want to serve.

SSU of the Month: Zhee

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International Student Edition

“How Have You Matured As An International Student?”

Sisters, meet Zhee, a fourth year international student in Canada. She majors in Administrative Studies. Our interview today looks at examples of some of the ways international students grow up thanks to their status.

Why did you decide to study abroad?
Having a western education and experience gives an edge in the job market, so I decided to go for it.

How would you describe your early period as an international student?
Oh my goodness, it was tough! I arrived in Canada during the winter season and was greatly amazed at the intense cold and amount of snow. So, that in of itself was hard to deal with. Then add homesickness and fear of being alone in this big country. The early days/months of adjustment were just scary and really emotional.

How were you able to overcome all these emotions?
Time is a healer! [smiles]. But seriously, I don’t think I have totally overcome these emotions; I still do feel a bit scared, homesick, and alone at times, but not as often as in the beginning. The Lord has been my Rock through and through, He definitely gets the credit for strengthening me.

How is your relationship with God now compared to when you were back home?
It has evolved a lot. I mean back home, though I devoted a great time in prayer and fasting, I wasn’t personally close to God because I always had my family around to turn to for help/advice. Here, having no one has increased my dependency upon the Father. The Lord has become my friend, help, financial advisor, mentor, everything. Our relationship has really improved.

Share with us some of the lessons you’ve learnt so far

  1. Be bold and courageous-nobody will do things for you so you have to woman up, for example when it comes to opening a bank account, filing paperwork, meeting assignment deadlines, doing the grocery, cleaning, etc.
  2. Intensify your prayer and Bible reading life-there are so many temptations in university that it’s easy for anyone to go astray and the Lord is only One that can help us stand firm and pure.
  3. Leave at peace-it’s easy to get overwhelmed and become worried due to school, money issues, and so on. Philippians 4: 6-7 (New Living Translation) says “don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done.Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” This is exactly what we need to do in order to enjoy peace and perform well.

What were some of the mistakes you made during your early period?
Worries, I used to worry so much at the beginning, especially when faced with difficult situations, I would just become so anxious. I have recently started applying with the above Philippians verse which is a blessing (when I apply it). Another mistake was studying in quantity rather than quality and consequently not being able to have appropriate rest. When the Holy Spirit convicted me of this, I later changed my habit. It was at that point my mind became refreshed and my grades ameliorated.

Do you think being an international student help one mature up?
It depends on how you take this journey. There are some international students that take their status as a ride or vacation. They neither work smart nor want to grow up and become adults in the real world. There are others, on the other hand, who cease their status as an opportunity to move forward in life, achieve decent goals, and gain experience.

What’s your overall opinion about being an international student?
It’s a great journey that carries its challenges along and I will never trade it. I’ve grown up in so many ways that I would never have if I had studied locally back home. Plus, you get to know learn about so many different cultures especially if you’re in a diverse institution like mine.

A message for international SSU?
In addition to the three points I mentioned in the question above on lessons learnt, I would encourage SSU to live in the fear of God not men. At times, you’ll be pressured or influenced to engage in activities that displease the Father just for the sake of ‘fitting in.’ However, always remember at the end of the day, you have to face God in prayer; do you want to do it shamefully or purely? Additionally, do your best in school and never let your studies get over your head. Always be content and thankful regardless of your possessions.

SSU of the Month: Lee

“The Jealous Classmates”

Sisters! Meet Lee, a senior in college currently majoring in Language studies. It’s a blessing and joy when we perform well academically; the sad thing, however, is at times, our classmates may not share the same feelings. How do we deal with jealous classmates? Let’s hear it from Lee’s experience. Continue reading “SSU of the Month: Lee”

SSU of the Month: Clo

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The Reason I Don’t Date or Court

Sisters! Meet Clo, a former SSU. She holds an Associate of Arts degree. Since we are celebrating the month of love, we chatted with Clo on the subject of dating/courting. Clo doesn’t believe in dating or courting, she has another approach, let’s find out.

Give us a bit of your background, have you ever been in a relationship before? On a date?
I have never been in a relationship before. Never been on a date in my life.

Why not?
In my family, academics come first. My parents always believed that I should first make something of myself before embarking on a romantic journey. Hence, I grew up focusing on school without allowing any distractions. When I received Christ in my life, I resolved to only wait for the one God prepared for me, that’s why I never dated around.

Can you elaborate more on your reasons for not believing in dating?
When you look up the definition of the word ‘date’, it says “regularly spend time with someone you have a romantic relationship with” (Cambridge Dictionary). Now, let’s put this definition in Christian terms, “dating is a time when a Christian finds out if his or her potential marriage partner is also a believer in Christ” (Got Question Ministries). There are issues with both definitions; the former gives a foothold for physical attraction to occur as both partners meet regularly and have developed romantic interests for one another. The latter definition implies that we, humans, have to do the effort of trying to figure out whether or not this person is marriage-material and a believer in Christ. The Bible says that “the human heart is the most deceitful of all things” (Jeremiah 17:9). A man can fake his relationship with God in order to lure a woman to marry him. Based on these issues, I prefer to wait upon the Lord and trust Him to guide me.

Many Christians use the approach of ‘courting’ where two individuals have no intimate contact and only spend time in the presence of relatives, what do you think about that?
I believe that this method works well. In past generations where young girls were taught to be pure before marriage, courting worked really well. However, in today’s age with the influences of television and entertainment (movies & music), courting is only a theory. I have seen many Christian ladies use the term “courting” in their relationships yet they go out alone with their partners for the sake of freedom and privacy. Their parents are not involved and there’s no spiritual guidance throughout the courting experience. At the end of the day, this courting can just be called dating because there’s not much difference with what the world does.  

So, what is your approach in finding out God’s will for your future husband?
I have always taken the story of Isaac and Rebekah as my reference (Genesis 24). Abraham’s servant was given the task to find a wife for Isaac; this servant understood the great significance and challenge of the task. He didn’t just say let me pick and choose a wife based on my feelings or observations, He realized one important thing: “man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). Consequently, the servant prayed about this matter (Gen24:14), he relied on the Lord’s guidance and asked for a specific and unlikely sign; in that way, when things would come to pass, he would be sure that it was really from God. I have used this same approach by praying about my marriage and asking God for a specific and unlikely sign. When the sign will come to pass and I am convinced in prayer and fasting about the person, there won’t be any need for dating/courting but marriage counselling (Gen24:67). Concerning this verse, Dr. Jeff of Israel Today Ministries says “To understand this verse is to understand the role of the woman in Jewish culture. ..Sarah, Isaac’s mother, had passed away and left a huge void in the life of the family. When she was alive her presence nurtured a reminder of the blessings of God…The Tent was a place of activity, responsibility and service.” These words help us understand that Rebekah was brought into Sarah’s tent to guide her steps as a future wife, and no wonder the verse ends by saying “and Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.”

One may argue that your approach is strict, perhaps it doesn’t give the ‘open door’ to meet and mingle with men with the purpose of finding ‘the one’. What are your comments?
Everyone has their goals in life, some want to meet and mingle with men, as for me, I just want to meet and mingle with ‘one’ man and that is my husband. I don’t want to give the opportunity to any other man of knowing me personally and intimately. Following God’s Word has been a big blessing in my journey; it’s prevented me from experiencing unnecessary heartbreaks or love betrayal caused by wrong partner choice. I believe that if I honor the Lord, He will honor me with a blessed union and that’s what I’m longing for. So, if this takes time, I only ask God to continue renewing my strength rather than rushing to a temporary moment of pleasure in meeting men.

What would you advise SSU in regards to dating/courting?
I would tell SSU to do it God’s way. Earlier I mentioned about the influences that movies, music, and tv have on us. Proverbs 3:5-6 say “trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take.” If you can put this verse into practice, it will go well with you. Don’t trust your heart, instincts, the looks, or whatever people may say. Live in obedience to the Word of God, and let the Father direct you. Never underestimate the power of prayer and fasting, they are of great benefit when waiting and deciding for marriage.