Ruth Bell Olsson
Master of Arts in Global Leadership (MAGL), Online campus
Fuller helped me expand my vision of what part God’s kingdom and I have to play in solving the fundamental problems in society.
I became an HIV/AIDS activist over a decade ago. It began through my church’s missional endeavors in East Africa and grew into both a global advocacy and the leadership of a local HIV prevention non-profit. I often felt like I had one foot in a church in rural Africa and the other one in a gay bar. This is an interesting juxtaposition and one that I embraced wholeheartedly. However, in 2009 I felt a desire to take my learning trajectory in a more focused and intentional direction and I began my journey with cohort 20 (also known as “Dos Equis: The Most Interesting Cohort in the World,” led by Wilmer Villacorta) of the MAGL program. I intentionally use the term “journey” because that is what we embarked on together. I suppose one of the biggest surprises of the MAGL experience was the bond our cohort developed. I joked that our intensives were like adult summer camp . . . the laughing, the crying, the praying, the worship . . . these moments changed me. As we studied what it means to be a leader, we were challenged and inspired to let go—let go of our ego, our expectations, our “smarts,” and cling to the path of Jesus and a life of servanthood.
I have often said that HIV is simply the red, flashing light that illuminates the larger issues of gender inequality, poverty, lack of access to health care and education. HIV also highlights those who are marginalized and stigmatized such as orphans, sex workers, and the LGBT community. During my years at Fuller I became more passionate and involved in these larger issues. I speak and write about bridging the divide between the faith community and the LGBT community; I have been drawn into leadership in two organizations that address human trafficking; and I now have the privilege of being a strategic consultant for Bethany Global Services, an organization committed to changing the reality for the world’s 153 million orphans. My experience at Fuller was instrumental in expanding my vision for the Kingdom as well as my vision for the part I am to play in it. My gratitude for Fuller abounds.
Read an interview with Ruth here, and an award-winning essay she wrote for Christianity Today here.