When our son, Jake, was at Dartmouth College, he spent part of a summer working with ROWAN in Uganda. Read more about that here! As a result, we began our first sponsor relationship with a young man named Mugabi Cyrus. Jake met Cyrus in the village and said Cyrus was a strong and eager participant in the leadership training sessions. As we prayed about someone to sponsor, God spoke swiftly and clearly that is should be Cyrus.
And here’s the thing—while we felt good about helping Cyrus, we had no idea that he would give us far more than we could ever give him. He loves us without reservation and calls us family. As we pray for him he prays for us. He worked hard in school and got an art degree—he is very talented. He calls our sons, Jake and Jonah, his brothers, and my husband and I, mom and dad. He is our “son” that we’ve never met. He has taught us uniquely more about the love of God. His faith in the most difficult circumstances has been a light to our family.
Cyrus graduated out of the sponsorship program but he is still our son, friend, and prayer partner. When co-founder Kelsey Hargadine visited Uganda in May, Cyrus gave her a backpack he made for us—made fully by his hand. She mailed it to us in Washington state and I cried and smiled at the beautiful stitching, the hand embroidered message, the thoughtfulness of a young man who works hard as an entrepreneur and who is now a volunteer for ROWAN. We are humbled and proud to know Cyrus and excited to see how God loves and leads him in the days ahead.
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.
Little Man, Big Impact
Last week, we had the great privilege of meeting with one of our dedicated donors, Little Man Ice Cream.
We used this time to thank them for all that they’ve done and enabled us to do – and most importantly, how they’ve impacted and empowered our orphans and widows.