Meet Chanel! She is finishing her final year at Harvard and had the opportunity to join the team visiting Mawanga this past May. She had the chance to experience the wonderful widows and orphans involved in ROWAN. She shared her thoughts from her visit and how God spoke to her during her time in Mawanga.
Here’s what Chanel had to say about her experiences
Coming back from my trip, I’ve been asking myself to reflect on why I went. What was the purpose of my week in rural Mawanga? As far as I can discern, I feel that God used the trip to do two things – to show me His heart for the poor and to recognize that my blessings (as an American) should never be limited to my own indulgence. The resources He’s given me aren’t only intended for circulation in my own life and my own community. God puts blessings under our authority for us to share. It feels counterintuitive at first, but I think all of us have felt the truth in “it’s more blessed to give than to receive.” In Hebrews, God calls us His ambassadors because He designed us to rule over Creation for the sake of establishing His righteousness . . . Today, He continues to equip us with what it takes to bless others around us, and yet it’s so easy to accumulate wealth as an ever-thickening safety net. Coming back from Uganda, I’ve learned that even though I come from a society that seems to have everything figured out – measured by the prevalence of our material abundance – this doesn’t entail that I’m smarter or more capable of solving the problems of a developing country. My role isn’t to be a fixer, but rather a partner with the local community, who will listen and trust that they know the community’s needs better than any “well-educated” outsider. God has shown me that my job is to pray where and to what degree I ought to support. He’s shown me to have faith in entrusting others with money to bless their community in the same way that He has entrusted me with all I have . . . Where am I going with this? Well, the impoverished people of the village of Mawanga and others like it should never be viewed as lesser or having lesser lives. We have struggles, they have struggles – brokenness can happen in the context of simple poverty or in our American circumstances (I will qualify, however, that in the States we can easily overestimate our struggles and overlook God’s daily provision) . . . As Americans. our wealth does not put us in a position of superiority as the “Benefactors of the Third World”, but rather we are God’s servants who’ve been doled a bigger responsibility in stewardship. Most of all, there is SO MUCH POTENTIAL for us to empower our brothers and sisters and show Christ’s love in tangible ways. This is exciting!!!!!
Margaret, whom I met during a home visit, lost her husband several years ago, and has since joined ROWAN (Rural Orphans & Widows AIDS Network). She and her five children need a plot of land and new home because her brother is seeking to eject them from her family’s ancestral plot (without a written will to divide the land, the local legal authorities will likely defer to the male opinion). How much would it cost to buy a plot of land and build a home for Margaret’s family? Near $4000. At another home visit, I met a women and her family of seven who’ve joined ROWAN as the result of testing positive for HIV. With ROWAN’s medical provisions, their family no longer suffers from the extreme, daily sickness caused by the disease; now that they live generally healthy lives, they are seeking to start a fish business. At the visit, they took us to see a pond – the dimensions of a large swimming pool – which they had dug themselves and hoped to fill with 5,000 fish. How much would it cost to buy 5,000 fish and upstart their business? $500.
The home visits were the most impactful part of my trip. God used them to show me that there’s nothing I’ve done to be worthy of the blessings and comforts He’s given me. There’s nothing I did to be born into the wealth of America and not the circumstances of poverty currently experienced by our hosts. Beyond this sobering understanding, God encouraged me to recognize the opportunity I have to uplift my brothers and sisters. $500 does not even account for my monthly food budget, but for the families we visited in Mawanga, it may take over a year to earn, and many, many more years to save.
I’ve been reading Luke recently, and Jesus has challenged me to reflect on the question of “Do I believe that His Kingdom is more valuable than anything I hope to attain in this life?” And if I do, then does the way I live my life and the way I invest my treasures show that? . . . .
“And he said this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grains and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.” But God said to him, “Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?” So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.” – Luke 12:18-21
“Fear not little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” – Luke 12:32-34
“So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.” – Luke 14: 33
Jesus came with cutting truth to challenge us, but also a compassionate heart, full of mercy, to give us the opportunity to know and serve Him. Praise Him!
If you want to support the Kingdom-centered mission of ROWAN, I highly recommend sponsoring a ROWAN orphan or widow. It costs $38 a month ($1.26 per day) to provide food, medicine, literacy classes/school fees, and other spiritual education opportunities. I met many of the orphans and widows on the sponsorship page and can personally attest that God is using ROWAN to empower them as members of their society and members of the Kingdom!! They have opportunities for one-time donations too. Here’s the link: https://loverowan.reachapp.co Also, if you want to go see the ministry firsthand, they welcome all and would LOVE to host you; please DO NOT HESITATE to ask me more about this possibility.
Thank you again for supporting me in prayer and finances so that I could be completely safe in my travels, blessed in my new relationships, and amazed at God’s activity in the lives of His people.
If Chanel’s thoughts are something that speak to you and maybe make you want to experience for yourself, you can read more about upcoming opportunities for you to go and encounter God and what he is doing with the people of ROWAN.