With KELSEY from ROWAN Uganda
- Can you share when you first heard God tell you to start Rowan or the journey of hearing and walking with him to start Rowan?
I was 15. I went to my first Christian camp in California called Hume Lake. There was a pastor of a small church at that time named Fancis Chan who shared the Gospel, and it felt like in the same moment I accepted Christ was the same moment I audibly heard “Africa.” I had NO influence of missions, or Africa or anything- but I knew it was on God’s heart. I ran to the little book store at camp to find the first journal I could to write these things down, and it happened to have animals on it. When I got home from camp and looked closer, I saw that there was an outline of the continent of Africa behind those animals! I just kept getting confirmation and although I didn’t know when, how, or where exactly, I held onto that word through high school and into college.
I was a sophomore in college and it was missions week. Several different organisations come to the college to share their mission and invite students to join. As I walked through the hustle and bustle of the booths, I looked over in the corner and saw an older couple in front of a small table called “Africa Inland Mission.” I went to talk to them, and signed up to go with them on a 6 week trip to Africa that summer. I didn’t know what country (there are 54 of them!) or the details, but I felt peace to go with them. They placed me on a team to Uganda and when we arrived the missionaries drove me hours away from the city and dropped out small team in a little village house of a rural village pastor who barely spoke English. Some would say it was the farthest thing from “home,” but it was in that moment that I came home.
The pastor’s name is Paul, and over the course of the 6 weeks I became a part of his family. Despite the overwhelming suffering of AIDs, poverty, illiteracy and despair, I watched this man and his wife love the widows and orphans with the promise of hope, life and miracles. Little did I know, that I would be invited in to that vision and support Pastor’s calling to serve those in his community. And without knowing how to do anything related to starting an organization at the age of 22, I had a “yes” in my spirit and knew He would show me the way. I realised that He prefers to use us when we have no grid for how….because that is when I get out of the way and my ears for listening to Him are tuned to His voice.
It took many giant leaps and endless small acts of bold faith to be where we are today, but each step is a step God rejoiced over. 20 years later, Pastor Paul and his wife Edith are my family, my mentors and friends. Through their perseverance and faith, we have impacted over 400 families in over 30 villages.
- How do you feel God's heartbeat and how do you know he is talking to you?
I love to hear God’s heartbeat and feel His presence, it’s my absolute favorite thing this side of heaven. The more I feel His presence, the more I desire more of His presence! He speaks to me in a variety of ways. When I still my mind and seek His voice, I know when He speaks because it would never be something I would say or the way I would say it. Other times He speaks through others and is confirmed through others. I love that too! The more I look around and see God, the more I find Him and his earnest pursuit of my heart. He also speaks to me through His word, when the words just come alive off the page because the Word IS alive and active! I journal regularly and find He can even speak to me through my own script when I look back. I firmly believe He will use any and every opportunity to capture our hearts.
Worship is another way I fight my battles and lean into Jesus. Declaring praise over my life, the life of others is an actual way to fight the injustice that we see in our ministry. And when I choose to worship Jesus …I’m not worshipping for the breakthrough, Jesus IS the breakthrough! I worship in the shower, in the car, with my daughter dancing in my home, at church and every chance I can! (Although my voice doesn’t sound angelic, God doesn’t care!)
I also find that when circumstances get too loud in my life, the way to turn my heart back to the Lord is to speak out what I’m thankful for. A spirit of thankfulness is a weapon against anything that isn’t God! I quickly turn my gaze back upon Him and it’s amazing how it quiets down any other voice.
Kelsey Hargadine is the co-founder and program director of Rowan, which operates in over 30 villages in East Uganda serving 345 families.