Study

      PRESS ON  The last thing I want to do is to accept the limitations of my body growing older and my mind getting forgetful.   But I did decide to cancel the trip to spend my birthday in Shanghai this year.  I attended an Ambassadors for Christ conference in Paradise, PA but missed AFC’s summer conference, because I was invited to attend  a training organized by WOW!  – a ministry for empowering Christian women leaders.  I met Rev. Dr. Grace May the year before at a Chinese church after having lost contact since the 70’s.  I remember Mrs. May bringing four-year-old Grace to a Bible Study at my parents’ home, in Brooklyn, NY.  As a tribute to her mother’s life, Grace wrote:   At age forty, my mother learned how to read through the patience and sacrifice of a sister from her church, who came weekly to teach her from the Bible . . . My mother considered those years to be some of her most precious as she clung tightly to her God, reading the Scriptures, singing, participating in church and sharing her faith with others. (Taken from the program of the celebration service of the life of Feng Ying Peng, November 18, 2017.)   As I struggled to continue my efforts to walk in the path of righteousness, I often needed to cling to God’s promises, “My grace is sufficient for you” (2 Cor 12:9) and “Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day” (2 Cor 4:16). I have experienced His help in times of need and would like to share some instances with you:  One Tuesday in August, my schedule was to visit my  massage therapist  in Chinatown,  meet my cousin and his daughter  -- who had just arrived, and then go to my volunteer job.  After I left the therapist’s office, I was supposed to take a train, and then change to another one, to meet them.  But I had told them to take the wrong train, and there was no way to contact them!  I was almost in panic mode when I got on the next train and saw them there.  We proceeded to visit the  Oculus  and then the  9/11 Memorial.   They stayed a while before leaving to catch a flight back to CA.  I was able to complete  my volunteer shift  at the 9/11 Memorial Museum -- four hours every Tuesday.      During the same week, I also participated in a local summer missions event  Jesus Loves Chinatown .  I would not have been able to walk so many streets and meet up at all the different locations without God’s help.  I was surprised and felt unworthy to be awarded a certificate for the completion of a  Bible-Telling training class .  But when I think about it—it was beyond my wildest dreams that I arrived on time to receive it.  After attending the Sunday worship service at Calvary Baptist Church, I went to meet others to walk to an outreach at Monroe Street Park.  No one was there as I was late, and I decided to try to find it myself.  I was walking in the wrong direction, when Pastor Sam Leung called my name, and showed me the way to the Park.  I soon found a couple who listened to me as I practiced how to do evangelism by story-telling.  I also related my testimony about reading stories to my relatives in Shanghai.  I sat down at the Chinese Church nearby, and wondered if I had enough strength to walk to PS 131 for the closing ceremony.  I asked another sister, and she agreed to take me there, where  I had no idea I would be receiving a certificate.  (Please see my photos on FB.)  I continue to visit a counselor at the Olive Tree once a month, and upon her advice, I began searching for an  independent living facility .  There were three places I considered -- two in PA, and one in Flushing, NY.  We agreed that I should move to Flushing next year.  Pastor Douglas Grandgeorge, who knew my parents and I for over forty years, gave his recommendation and I was accepted.  Pastor Philip Cho and his wife have been living there for over a decade.  My mother, while staying at a nursing home, wrote down a scripture verse that I keep close to my heart: “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (I Thessalonians 5:16-18)    Merry Christmas & Happy New Year 2018!    In His Service,  Helen Shao        

  

    

       

         

           
               
             

             
             

           

         

        
         
           

            

            
               Last year, Helen Shao started attending our WOW! teaching seminars and has been faithfully attending ever since.  When she is not volunteering at the 9/11 Memorial Museum, visiting residents in a local nursing home, doing evangelism and outreach in Chinatown, she stretches herself by going to Christian conferences and training, attends two or three churches every Sunday, and visits with friends and family.   (This Christmas letter is printed with Helen’s permission.)

Dear Family & Friends:                                                                                    

The last thing I want to do is to accept the limitations of my body growing older and my mind getting forgetful.   But I did decide to cancel the trip to spend my birthday in Shanghai this year.  I attended an Ambassadors for Christ conference in Paradise, PA but missed AFC’s summer conference, because I was invited to attend a training organized by WOW! – a ministry for empowering Christian women leaders.  I met Rev. Dr. Grace May the year before at a Chinese church after having lost contact since the 70’s.

WOW! Teaching 1 Timothy 2

WOW! Teaching on I Timothy 2
Let a woman learn quietly and with full submission [to God’s word]. I do not permit a woman to teach that she is the author of man.*

Initially, my reaction to an exegetical treatment of this particular Biblical text was mixed.  It vacillated between jaded disinterest and extreme apprehension.  Somehow I had grown numb to the issue.  At the time, gender equality wasn’t a pressing concern for me, and it was a doubtful period as far as ministry was concerned.   

My experience caused me to revisit the differences associated with “mainline” churches and non-denominational “evangelical” churches.  There is general acceptance and support for female leadership in the more established churches, but also a strong adherence to “church” culture.  Evangelical churches are more “outreach” focused and flexible in their worship, but in my experience completely closed to women’s leadership.    
 
At that point in my life, I was hopeful to avoid any further conflicts and did not see I Timothy chapter 2 as “my friend.”  If I could, like Martin Luther who suggested the book of James was “as useful in the fireplace,” I would delete that particular portion of God’s Word, because 1 Timothy 2 has been and continues to be used by certain power players in the church to suppress its meaning and keep women from working for the Lord!
 
After attending a WOW! seminar on Paul & Women and carefully reconsidering the complicated grammar and cultural context of the letter, now, 1 Timothy 2 and I have reinstated our friendship.  WOW’s Dr. Grace May eruditely taught on these intricate instructions.   With a serious commitment to the authority of God’s Word, passion and integrity, she brought the seminar attendees (and me) scholarship and solid wisdom, so that we no longer had to settle for an uniformed misinterpretation or isogesis.  Her lecture series was accompanied with interaction facilitated by WOW!’s faculty to move us towards practical application. There was a fresh air of reconciliation, based on the knowledge I had received. I was revived, relieved, restored and refreshed. 

I’ll admit, I have experienced conflict and rejection since our WOW! seminar, but GOD arranged the timing of the training.  Within two weeks, I was sitting with a church leader who twisted the passage to bully me, but because God’s truth was protecting me, I was ultimately able to overcome and rise above the hurt.  Gratefully, I was more conscious of God’s valuation and love for women as individuals and in ministry! 

I thank God, because WOW! leads people into a deeper awareness of God’s love and justice.  
 
~ Amy Plympton-Fortunato
 
*For a full explanation of this translation, come to our Fall Core Course.

Amy follows Jesus Christ; has a wonderful husband – Joe; married for 26 years and met as co-workers at Citibank.  Together they have 3 young-adults, namely: Victoria (married to Nick), Joseph and Alison.  They love their darling granddaughter – Keira (3 yrs.), who calls her ‘Go-Go’ because Amy is too young to be a grandmother. 
She grew up on Long Island, graduated from Freeport Sr. High School; and then earned a BS in Marketing from FIT.  She completed her Master’s Degree in Divinity from NY Theological Seminary (NYTS) in 2008.  She thoroughly enjoyed working as the Associate Director of Children’s Ministry at the Three Village Church in Setauket and later served at the NY Philadelphia Church (Korean) as the English Ministry Pastor in Port Washington. Amy also held a position as Youth Pastor at Bellmore Presbyterian Church.  She likes Broadway shows; vacationing at her family’s log cabin in Maine and is a huge fan of Christian Contemporary concerts.  Currently, Amy is pleased to be working as a TA at NYTS.  She attends the Hope Church LI at Hofstra University and is in the process of starting a new Hope Church plant in Suffolk County.