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?
I was sitting in church this Sunday listening to our pastor talk about how we are to love each other because we are loved by God. He challenged us as a church to make sure we get the “horizontal” right before we know that we have the “vertical” with God. What he meant by that was that if we can’t show love to the people around us, then we can’t truly be connected to God because God is love.
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.”
1 John 4:7-8
This hit me hard. I started to question my actions, words and behaviours with the people around me. Am I a person who forgives those who have hurt me? Do I hold grudges? Am I welcoming? Is my first reaction to judge, rather than love? Do I reflect God’s love to others the way that I should?
Deep down I knew that the answers to those questions were not what God expected from me. I need to do more to show the love that God has for me and to spread that love to others. Sure, I care about others and do my best to be a good person. Yes, I do things to encourage my friends and make sure that they know I care about them and love them. But what about the people who have hurt me or the people that I care about? Do I show them love? What about the hurt and lonely around me? Have I showed them hospitality and love in my actions?
So now it’s time for me to make some changes and step out of my comfort zone. God paid the ultimate sacrifice to show his love for me, I need to be sure that I am sharing that love with others. And I challenge you to do the same.
We ended our service Sunday morning with a song that is becoming my prayer as I step out in faith to love others with all that I am. I want to leave you with the words to the chorus of that song. I pray it speaks to you the same way it has spoken to me.
“I’m wide awake, drawing close, stirred by grace and all my heart is yours. All fear removed, I breathe you in, I lean into your love, oh your love.”
Hillsong – Sinking Deep
I was having coffee with a friend last week and we started talking about how the world we live in is full of pain and suffering. People around us getting sick, being hurt and diagnosed with terminal cancer. The news is filled with horrific stories and brutal attacks to innocent people. Sometimes it’s so hard to find God in these stories. But then our conversation shifted to talking about how life shouldn’t be about seeing the negative in the world around us, but rather focusing on the blessings we have in our lives.
I remember sitting in the Mawanga Church of God one Sunday and hearing person after person going to the front of the church to share testimonies. I remember one woman sharing how she was so sick with malaria and didn’t have the energy to get to the clinic for treatment but yet she thanked God that she was able to make it to get what she needed so she could come to church on Sunday to worship her Saviour.
As my friend and I were reflecting, I couldn’t help but think about how it’s so easy to see the bad around us in the world. We are bombarded with negativity all the time and sometimes it’s hard to see God’s blessings that flood our lives every single day.
But God really does shower us with his blessings continually throughout the day. We just have to make the choice to see his provision and protection in our lives. When I think about the widows and orphans that are a part of ROWAN, I can’t help but be reminded of the incredible hope and joy that God has brought into their lives. Many of them have come from some very difficult and hard situations. Yet they choose to worship a God that provides. This is something that I desire to do daily: to see God’s blessings, even in the small things.
How can you help?
Please consider sponsoring one of the widows or orphans from Eastern Uganda. You can help to provide them with opportunities that they would not have the chance to experience. Through your sponsorship, ROWAN will provide education, health care, entrepreneurship, and many moments where your sponsored widow or orphan will experience the love, protection and blessings of God.
Isaiah 41:10 “So do not fear, for I am with you, do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”