It doesn’t matter if you are from the west and have never been to Africa. It doesn’t matter if you are from Africa and have never been to a western country. Our circumstances may be vastly different but our capacity to grieve and care for one another are human capacities.
Will you let me introduce you to Daniel Okola? The ROWAN team met Daniel less than than four months ago when they visited Uganda. Daniel’s wife just died in March, in childbirth. While this pain may be unfathomable to many of us, Daniel continues to love and care for his eight children. Daniel had no livable house and his biggest challenges were finding places for his children to sleep at night and his inability to work due to caring for his children. When the team visited Daniel, he told them he receives strength from looking up at the face of God.
ROWAN put out a call for help to build Daniel and his children a house. Many people donated and the money was raised. Today, Daniel’s house is under construction and soon he and his family will be living together in their very own home! ROWAN thanks everyone who donated for helping Daniel in this difficult time and transforming his sorrow to hope with a house for his family. There is a long road ahead but a safe home for his family to live and sleep in together is life-changing for each one of them.
Daniel and most of his children have now been sponsored and we praise God for that. The last child that needs sponsoring is sweet Godfrey. Would you consider changing Godfrey’s life and supporting Daniel in his desire to be a father that stays with his children? There is so much strength in a father to stay with his children in such a dire situation. In addition to the loss of a mother, culturally, many men run away or send the children to family members. Daniel is choosing to stay and we want to support and bless that! Thank you for considering sponsoring Godfrey:
Look for an update soon on the Okola house and family and please continue to pray for them as they navigate the loss of a wife and mother. Thank you very much for reading their story and comprehending that no matter where we live on this earth, we are bound in compassion, grief, and love, as the family of God.
“While other worldviews lead us to sit in the midst of life’s joys, foreseeing the coming sorrows, Christianity empowers its people to sit in the midst of this world’s sorrows, tasting the coming joy.”
What are people saying about ROWAN?
If you’re anything like me, you occasionally or more than occasionally like to research things based on online reviews. I’ve made a lot of decisions based on said reviews: what books to read, what movies to watch, which restaurants to try and which vacuum to purchase! Practically every public figure and organization receives reviews. At ROWAN, we learn a lot about ourselves by listening to those who interact and spend time with us; they have good insight into who we are.
It is exciting to share with you that the reviews are in, and ROWAN is a top-rated non-profit organization!
Listen to what this ROWAN donor has to say:
“ROWAN has truly impacted our hearts and minds through sponsorship and Christmas giving. To be able to correspond with our sponsor children online and through mail is such a blessing. I truly feel like I am part of their journey. I can rest easy knowing the funds we donate are used for exactly what is intended. The clear communication between ROWAN and their supporters allows us to not only completely trust their vision but to be proud of what is being done.”
Brandon, an Ivy-League graduate, shares this powerful story about ROWAN:
“This is an utterly amazing organization that builds up leaders in the communities it operates within. I have never come across a group that more fluidly engages local leaders, donors, and teams from around the world in a partnership that values and maximizes the skills that each individual brings to the table. I volunteered with ROWAN in the summer of 2014 and met a group of Ugandan men and women who care very passionately about their community, especially widows and those suffering from HIV/Aids. They made it a priority to not only coordinate the administration of necessary medication, but also bring impactful change into the lives of individuals in the village by teaching them skills that they could use to build a business and thrive. Treating every person with respect and a implementing a tangible, long-term plan for success are hallmarks of this organization and things that really set ROWAN apart from other organizations I have worked with in the past. I would recommend ROWAN to anyone if they are seeking to donate or volunteer for a group with an impeccable track record who is changing the lives of hundreds of people and growing at an impressive rate. From the top down, I want to stress the character and integrity of the men and women who are a part of ROWAN and the life-changing work they are doing.”
Sometimes those who work inside an organization have the most to complain about. This is not the case at ROWAN. Listen to what Lauren has to share:
“I have been working with ROWAN for five years now, and have visited the village three times. Each time my understanding of cultures, nonprofits, and foreign aid has increased exponentially, and each visit has changed my life in a different way. The people and experiences impacted by ROWAN have greatly influenced my career path and the motivations behind it. The people in Mawanga, Uganda have even greater stories to tell, however! It has been a great joy to see the growth over the years, and to see and hear the success stories in both the children and the adults! It’s a rare nonprofit that can focus on empowering every aspect of a person’s life (again, child and adult), and ROWAN does it so well in so many pioneering ways! Pastor Paul Nyende and Kelsey Hargadine are two of the most humble and committed people I know, and their teamwork has created an incredible organization!”
I encourage you to read more reviews at greatnonprofits.org.
Do you ever wonder if you’re making a tangible difference in the world? I know I do. Due to the nature of a 24/7 news cycle, social media, and a constant state of being “plugged in”, we are faced with information about a groaning world seeking help. We are presented with daily multiple needs and requests. It can get pretty overwhelming, even when we give money, labor, time, prayers, or other resources in answer to God’s call. Sometimes we don’t even answer because of that overwhelmed feeling. There is something that happens, though, when we obey God. Matthew 22:34-40 says:
When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they met together in the same place. One of them, an expert in the Law, tested him by asking, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus told him, “”You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and most important commandment. The second is exactly like it: “You must love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commandments.”
Amber Thurow is a ROWAN sponsor who recently returned from visiting Uganda with a team of people led by co-founder Kelsey Hargadine. Amber sponsors a widow she has never met named Rachel. Amber was looking forward to meeting Rachel in Uganda.
A little while ago, before the trip, Rachel became very ill with infected kidneys. Her condition was serious, and Amber sent some extra money to help cover her medical fees. Soon after the team’s arrival in Uganda, Amber and Kelsey were helping out in the village clinic. A woman came through the doorway and it was Rachel! She was there for her check-up—Amber was stunned to see how well she was doing! Both women were filled with joy. Rachel couldn’t stop telling them how happy she was that she was feeling better…so she can take care of her children.
Amber found out what happens when we obey God. We are first to love Him with everything we are and everything we have. And we are to love our neighbor as ourself. Amber does that and doesn’t have to worry if she is making a tangible difference. God gives blessing, joy, and peace to those who love and obey Him.
Amber, Kelsey and the team visited Rachel in her home and spent time in fellowship and prayer. Rachel shared her favorite verse, Luke 14:13:
“But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind…”
As someone who loves to read and write, I love words. A perfectly-turned phrase can make my heart go zing. String those phrases and sentences together and we can read or listen to something that makes us laugh, cry, fume, gasp, and absorb.
In 2019, there are A LOT of words out there. Because they are available to us 24/7/365, they can overwhelm and cause us to turn away. Or cause us to only turn to memes about dog, cats, and Marvel movies.
We can get desensitized to what we read and hear and it’s understandable. This can cause us to take in diluted meaning and truth, or put a hand up to say, “Stop”. Sometimes a break is good. And sometimes forcing ourselves to slow down and ponder the truth of what we are reading is also good. We’ve known for a long time now what AIDS is, but have you read the definition lately? I looked at the meaning of each word in the name ROWAN and it stopped me short. Please read what each of the words in the ROWAN title means. From Webster’s Dictionary:
RURAL: of or relating to the country, country people or life, or agriculture
ORPHANS: a child deprived by death of one or usually both parents
WIDOWS: a woman who has lost her spouse or partner by death and usually has not remarried, or whose spouse or partner leaves her alone
AIDS: a disease of the human immune system that is characterized cytologically especially by reduction in the numbers of CD4-bearing helper T cells to 20 percent or less of normal thereby rendering the subject highly vulnerable to life-threatening conditions (such as Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia) and to some (such as Kaposi’s sarcoma) that become life-threatening and that is caused by infection with HIV commonly transmitted in infected blood especially during illicit intravenous drug use and in bodily secretions during sexual intercourse
NETWORK: a usually informally interconnected group or association of persons; a fabric or structure of cords or wires that cross at regular intervals and are knotted or secured at the crossings
Whether you are part of the ROWAN family or just learning about Eastern Uganda, to pause and understand what ROWAN is, what each word in the name means, is a good thing. It helps us remember in the 21st century glut of words that we can look clearly at the people in the village, at their pain and their hope, at their knotted and secure relationships with God and each other, and know the truth. The words of ROWAN allow us to learn and help and not turn away.
This week the world watched as the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France, caught fire. Part of her centuries-old structure was destroyed, and her grand spire burned away.
Historian Yvonne Seale writes at vox.com:
Notre Dame de Paris was never the preferred cathedral of kings. Notre Dame was instead the cathedral of ordinary Parisians. Since the Middle Ages, it’s been the backdrop against which the city’s inhabitants have lived their lives. The building, which stands on a small island in the Seine River, was a constant amid the upheaval of the French Revolution and the terrors of the Nazi occupation. As one 14th century scholar wrote, the cathedral was “like the sun among stars.”
There’s been a church on the site now occupied by Notre Dame since at least the sixth century. In 1163, Bishop Maurice de Sully launched an ambitious project to build a new cathedral for the city’s growing population. For centuries, the cathedral has been a tourist draw, a meeting spot, a place of refuge in times of crisis. It fostered both the beginnings of the University of Paris and, quite literally, the city’s abandoned children in the orphan home it ran.
“It’s just a building,” some say. “It can be rebuilt.” This is true. However, people bond with places. And the longer a building exists, the more memories are housed there and in the people who make it part of their lives. The cathedral has stood for centuries as a symbol of beauty, help, and refuge. Sometimes a building matters.
ROWAN is building a Hall of Hope. Why build a hall? Ten years ago ROWAN began under the Ugandan trees. Most organizations start up and fairly quickly look for a building. Widows and orphans began gathering with ROWAN staff under the trees, in harsh weather, rain or shine, with no thoughts of a building. But God began to bring more women and children to ROWAN and ten years later the family is overflowing! The Hall of Hope will have two large classrooms for tutoring, literacy, Bible studies, tailoring, jewelry-making, and much more. There will be additional office space; most of us know the value of a desk or table to work from. What might be most exciting though is that the Hall holds 600 people and will be able to house the entire ROWAN family, at once. The ROWAN family has never had a place where they can all gather together. In the past, it was difficult to even get people to come on the property, as the word AIDS is in our name. The shame and stigma are high. But God lovingly brought dignity to those who came, and more came, and it became clear it was time to give them a place, a beautiful building, their “sun among stars”. They can look at their Hall of Hope now and think, “WOW, that is for me.” People will pass by and see who this beauty is for.
We know that Notre Dame began as a place for ordinary Parisians to worship God. “If anyone is worth a beautiful building, let it be the widows and orphans. ROWAN is their family and the Hall is our family room.”— Co-founder Kelsey Hargadine
The Hall of Hope will be dedicated on May 26, 2019.
People are often motivated by good intentions. Christians can be doubly-motivated by good intentions and a nudge or call from God. Wonderful things can happen when intentions are good.
“There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.”—Peter Drucker, world-renowned author, educator and management consult who was driven by a desire to build effective and responsible institutions
Whoa. Read again, what Peter Drucker said:
“There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.”
What happens when we rush to do good and the result is not so great? ROWAN co-founder Kelsey Hargadine tells a story about something that happened in Haiti and has happened in many mission settings. Kelsey shared that, when westerners travel to areas of need, we step out of the van into the village and immediately see the torn clothes, no shoes, poor housing, etc. We quickly want to bring tons of clothes, shoes, and material things that can help that tangible image of poverty. That is exactly what we shouldn’t do. One time a group of people brought hundreds and hundreds of shoes to Haiti. They gave all the shoes out and felt so good for doing that. What they didn’t think about was the shoe seller in the village trying to make a living, and just putting him out of a job. They didn’t think about how a small child having a new pair of shoes puts them at risk of theft and abuse. We don’t like thinking about those things, but they are what we need to remember above all.
This is why the ministry of ROWAN works, because they don’t rush in. Rushing in with good intentions is perfectly understandable, but it may not be the best way to make lasting change. This doesn’t mean we don’t do anything, and sometimes needs are immediate. But in all those situations, ROWAN works because ROWAN IS:
~Widows and orphans as leaders in their own communities, creating and sustaining their lives with support from the village leaders
~Pastor Paul and ROWAN leaders discussing, listening, and deciding what to do. They are the drivers.
While we as supporters may be bursting with ideas and heartfelt emotion, it is our job to work alongside and empower those whose home is the village. It is our job to trust God and seek His patient, faithful guidance in partnership on their behalf. Peter Drucker says:
“Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action.”
ROWAN does this so well. They aren’t perfect at it and they make mistakes, but there is grace and forgiveness and learning during those times. And for the most part there is effective action when Pastor Paul and Kelsey and you and I trust God together and commit to see people’s lives changed for good. And in the village there is so much happening that is good.
Peter Drucker was an Austrian-born American author and educator who Business Week called, “the man who invented management”, right before his death at 95 years old in 2005. Drucker, motivated by
Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action. Peter Drucker
Peter Ferdinand Drucker was an Austrian-born American management consultant, educator, and author, whose writings contributed to the philosophical and practical foundations of the modern business corporation.
Shortly before he died in 2005, Peter Drucker was celebrated by BusinessWeek magazine as “the man who invented management.” Naturally, when most people hear that description, they think of corporate management. And Drucker did, in fact, advise a host of giant companies (along with nonprofits and government agencies). But he came to his life’s work not because he was interested in business per se. What drove him was trying to create what he termed “a functioning society.”
Drucker had, after all, seen firsthand what happens when society stops functioning. This was the central theme of the first of the 39 major books that he would publish over the course of his extraordinarily long and productive career. The End of Economic Man traced the rise of the Nazis in the aftermath of the Great War and Depression.
“These catastrophes broke through the everyday routine which makes men accept existing forms, institutions and tenets as unalterable laws,” Drucker wrote. “They suddenly exposed the vacuum behind the façade of society.” Looking for a miracle, he added, the masses turned toward the “abracadabra of fascism.”
Drucker was determined never to let things break down like that again. And the only way to do that was to build effective and responsible institutions, including those that by the 1940s were emerging to be the most powerful in the world: big American corporations. Management, practiced well, was Drucker’s bulwark against evil.