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Five Decades for WAFU!

His friends and family call him Wafu and he just turned 50 years old (young)!

David Wafula has been with ROWAN since the beginning. He is a full-time staff member and board member.  Here are his thoughts on turning 50:

“I can’t believe I am making 50 years of age… my evening is approaching. Making 50 years in Uganda [while] healthy, happy, and impacting others is a huge blessing.”

When asked about his goals, he said, “I have two words that keep sounding in my mind: STABILITY and PERFECTION. This year I have to stabilize and perfect most of the things that I put my hands on. Ministry-wise and family. This year, I want to inspire many and disciple many in the ministry of ROWAN. At 50, you can be trusted but also entrusted.”

Pastor Paul, Kelsey, and Wafu

“This year is a year of looking back and making evaluations. During this process, I am sure I will [recall] areas I have done well but also improve those areas I have not done well.”

ROWAN is so blessed by Wafu’s wisdom, perseverance, and his wonderful laugh. Join us in wishing him a very happy 50th birthday!

If you’ve met Wafu, please comment with any stories or memories you have with him!

Post Author: Shelly Casale

Sponsoring Cyrus

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.


Mugabi 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.

Mugabi Cyrus, the artist, in Uganda!

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.  

Jonah Casale, in the USA, holds the backpack handmade by his brother-in-Christ, Mugabi Cyrus!

I invite you to consider sponsoring an orphan or widow today. More than one life will be changed!

Post Author: Shelly Casale

“We are God’s Servants” – Reflections from Chanel

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.

Chanel (left) was “blessed in my new relationships, and amazed at God’s activity in the lives of His people.”

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: 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.

Post Author: Kris Mbabazi

Meeting Face-to-Face in Uganda

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…”


Would you like to join us?

Post Author: Shelly Casale

I’d Like to Introduce you to Rose

Meet Rose…

Rose Namufuta is a mother of eight.  Her husband died in August of 2016 and she was left to care for her children. Rose works hard to support her children by digging in neighbouring gardens.  She brings her children along with her while she works and will earn about $0.20 a day. She is a new member to the ROWAN family and is very thankful for the love she has been shown. 

Rose loves Jesus and has known him for a while now.  When the team went to visit Rose in her home and meet her children they sang and prayed with her. Her children Doreen, John and Monica are awaiting sponsors, which will help support Rose, as caring for eight children can be difficult.

Please consider helping to welcome Rose to the ROWAN family by sponsoring one of her three children.


Post Author: Kris Mbabazi

What’s In a Name?

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.  

Would you like to join us?

Post Author: Shelly Casale

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