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Christmas Presents

The accidental trailblazer

Thomas Baldwin meets the Rev Rola Sleiman, the first Christian woman minister ordained in the Middle East.

PROFILE

ROLA Sleiman is an accidental trailblazer. In simply seeking to serve God, she didn’t ask and never hoped to be the first female Christian minister to be ordained in the Middle East.

“If you’d asked me 10 years ago, would there be a female pastor in the Middle East, I would have said maybe in 100 years,” she says. “It was impossible. We are living in a patriarchal society where a woman is not treated equally in any profession.

“It was a dream for some of my female colleagues, but to me it wasn’t practical. We didn’t have female pastors. Why dream something that isn’t reality?”

But God had other ideas, which came to fruition with Rola’s ordination in February this year.

“God has a plan and if it is God’s will it is going to happen,” says the 42-year-old minister of a Presbyterian church in her hometown of Tripoli, in northern Lebanon. While she admits she had her doubts the night before, she says: “The feeling of peace and joy I felt during the ordination cannot be explained. To me this was the assurance that it really was the will of God.”

Rola’s path to this point has been far from smooth, but characterised by a stubbornness, a strong conviction in her calling and a refusal to give up in the face of any obstacle placed in front of her.

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About Life and Work

In this month's issue: - FROM HOLY LAND TO ADVENT CENTERPIECE The journey of a Christmas crib - THE ACCIDENTAL TRAIL BLAZER The Rev Rola Sleiman, the first Christian woman minister ordained in the Middle East - SIGNPOSTS OF FAITH The Rev John Chalmers on change in the Church
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