Last Thursday, August 19th, the 2021 Uganda Unite Summit was hosted via Zoom by Kelsey Hargadine and ROWAN. We had representatives from 12 different organizations and over 40 participants in attendance. It was an incredible summit filled with inspiration, messages of hope, and information sharing between organizations.
We were fortunate to have Bob Goff as our keynote speaker for this year’s summit. Bob’s words of hope and encouragement were so inspiring!
Some of the messages that stuck out to those in attendance were:
“Don’t let setbacks stop you from doing something. Do what you can.”
“Don’t engage in every fight. Be picky about issues you want to take on. You don’t have to swing at every pitch.”
“We have to decide when something burns down in our life – when something goes wrong – not to let it distract us. Don’t give up. Remember why you’re doing what you’re doing. Finish your work. Never give up.”
“Know what you want. Why you want it. And what you’re going to do about it. Figure these out, and you’ll run your race.”
And my favorite:
“God just wants to surprise us. The story is not where we are the victim or that we are the hero. It’s that we are a participant. Show up – fallible as you are and bring everything you’ve got because this is something worth doing.”
So many nuggets of wisdom! It was such a wonderful and uplifting way to start this summit.
Following Bob’s remarks, two breakout sessions gave the participants a chance to share their organization’s work in Uganda and talk about the different challenges they are facing. So many insightful ideas were shared during these breakout sessions!
To close the summit, Kelsey Hargadine, Co-founder of ROWAN, discussed the impact the COVID-19 Pandemic has had on the people of Uganda. During this discussion, Kelsey shared that Pastor Paul, Rowan’s Co-founder, and his wife had been in the United States when the COVID-19 Pandemic began to impact the U.S. in mid-march of 2020. Their planned stay of a few weeks became a stay of nearly five months due to the travel bans that were put in place. These five months turned out to be a really special time. Pastor Paul and his wife were able to truly rest for the first time in their lives. Through that rest, creativity began to flow, and Pastor Paul and Kelsey were able to come up with new, creative solutions for ROWAN, its programs, and the people we serve.
When Pastor Paul and his wife finally returned home, they carried with them a new sense of calm. Recently, Pastor Paul was speaking with Kelsey and sharing with her some of the hardships, roadblocks, and issues that ROWAN and its members are facing during this second wave of the COVID-19 Pandemic and the subsequent lockdown when he paused and said, “But Kelsey, I have joy. I have never had this much time at home with my family. I am getting to know each of my children, and I love getting to know them. Yes, there is a lot going on around us, and there are so many hard things, but this family time has been so wonderful.”
Pastor Paul then asked Kelsey to share the following message at the Uganda Unite Summit:
“Tell them that COVID is a checkpoint for us. That this is an opportunity to take inventory of what you have and value the relationships and families that you have. COVID will come and go. But how will we look back at this time? Take it as an opportunity. An opportunity to spread hope.”
I love that.
“An opportunity to spread hope.” Or, as Bob Goff said it, “Faith expressed in love.”