Prayer

Duncan originally wrote this post in 2013, but we want to reflect again this year on prayer and faith as a community.

 

Ramadan is here again, the time when Muslims go for 30 days without food as they pray and give to the needy, a way of worshipping their God. It is at this time that the Muslims nourish their faith by being prayerful and doing what their faith calls on them to do.

I always find this very challenging for me as a Christian, as it is the time we Christians decide to pray for Muslims to know Christ. This is ironic, to say the least, and the reason this time challenges me. Fasting for a few days or even one day seems to be a great deal for us as Christians, yet we want to go in prayer and convert a people who fast for 30 days for what they believe in. This, then, begs the question- is this really realistic? A lot of prayer and fasting should then go in to this …not only in the month of Ramadan but throughout the year.

Why do we as Christians wait until the Muslim people go into strengthening their faith in order to pray for them? We look vulnerable to them more than they do to us. Our biggest time of reflection and strengthening our faith tends to be Christmas, where in reality it should be Easter. Whichever the case, there seem to be no major preparations that go in to these seasons before the big day or even after, apart from the Catholics who go without meat during lent, weeks before Easter.

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Being a staunch Christian, you can be sure I’ll not convert to Islam in the near future or ever for that matter. My worry is that we as Christians have taken a back seat and are not preaching in our deeds, actions and neither in our words. What is our Christian calendar, when do we take time to strengthen our faith, when do we take time together to go in prayer /fasting? Isn’t it ironic then that we should try and convert those who are so united in faith and practice? We need to rethink our fellowship. If anything, we should also commit to a month of fasting in which all Christians embark on prayer since we also believe in the power of prayer and fasting.

Muslims will always pray at specific times of the day regardless of where they are, who they are with and what they are doing and they do it by kneeling at a secluded place. For most of us Christians, we pray when it is convenient for us and in some cases we don’t even pray at all. When it comes to fasting, nothing will stop a Muslim from fasting for the whole month unless he/she is sick, in which case they will pay back for the days they didn’t fast even if it will be way past Ramadan. For us Christians, very few of us fast, and even when we do, we tend to forget and eat, not to mention we hardly remember to repay back the days.

As Muslims fast through the remainder of Ramadan, my plea is not for us as Christians to pray for their conversion, but to pray for us to be better Christians whose work and words can be seen and heard as a living illustration to pull closer the non-believers. My prayer is that we think, reflect and pray for our community to be strong and committed in our faith.

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Bigger Than the Bottom Line

Justin recently did an interview for the Millennial Leader Podcast (full interview found here) and was asked about the challenges that come along with leadership and being in the millennial generation. I absolutely loved three points that he and the host discussed. Below, I took the three main points from the podcast that struck me most and expanded on them from my point of view as a CFA team member:

 1.     Our mission is bigger than the bottom line

While this may seem obvious, I think it is an extremely important discussion topic. By even discussing this point, we acknowledge that a bottom line exists. At CARE for AIDS we understand that each donation is an investment, and we are eager to show a return on that investment in many ways. For example, by supporting a CARE for AIDS client, donors are helping extend that client’s life so that they can raise their children. For every dollar we spend in orphan prevention, we save the global economy $70 in orphan care costs. That’s a pretty good bottom line. But we know that economics can’t hold a candle to the impact that the program and the Kenyan staff have on individuals’ lives. Our mission is bigger than the bottom line, and that helps guide us every day.

2.     Your capacity to learn determines your capacity to lead

This is a defining trait for the CARE for AIDS team, both in the US and in Kenya. Growing up, my dad always told me  “The more you know, the more you know you don’t know”. Humility and a constant posture of learning are traits that I am so thankful are part of our work culture, and that I am constantly learning to implement in other aspects of my life as well.

3.     Collaboration should replace competition

This one is definitely a favorite- and I think that all organizations should embrace this, whether non-profit or for-profit. Justin wrote an article that expands on this principal at the beginning of the year, and we have all seen the benefit of collaboration in recent months. I like to look at collaboration from a broad lens, though, and not just in the context of business partnerships. One of the most impactful pictures of collaboration we have seen in 2014 is what the White family was able to do by collaborating with their community.  Their collaboration in fundraising allowed us to open and fund a new center in just 90 days.

I am generally not one to get excited over leadership principles or business practices, but these three aspects of the CARE for AIDS work culture absolutely inspire me. Each point can be lived out both in a work context and a personal context, which is where our true leadership and work ethic tend to play out.

As you finish out your work week, what are some business/leadership principles that you can implement in your everyday interactions? 

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Invictus

Friday would have been Nelson Mandela’s 96th birthday, and to honor the recently lost hero of equality, many people celebrated Mandela Day. As I read more about his life and work last week, my respect for he and his contemporaries only increased.

Mandela was a voracious reader and has often credited the poem ‘Invictus’ with being “one of the most powerful pieces of literature [that he had] read, which inspired [him] to struggle for freedom and a just society” (more about Mandela here).

In honor of Mandela and his fight for justice and peace throughout his life, we would like to share this favorite poem of his.

Invictus; by William Ernest Henley

Out of the night that covers me,
      Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
      For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
      I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
      My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
      Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
      Finds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
      How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
      I am the captain of my soul.

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