In 2009, God used a woman named Connie Stevinson to inspire founder Susan Hollern to explore Rwanda more intentionally.
Susan first heard about the needs in Rwanda at a Christmas party in 2008. Then, in March of 2009, she attended a fundraiser for Rwanda. It wouldn’t be long before Hope Haven Rwanda was born.
Connie and Susan met during a trip to Israel. They became good friends as they explored the Holy Land. One of Connie’s daughters was wearing a tee shirt about ministry to kids in Rwanda. When Susan asked about it, Ashley raved about how amazing the country was and how children there desperately needed help.
When Susan made it back to the US, Connie called her the next morning. She invited Susan to join her for a meeting that day about a project that was starting in Rwanda. Susan went to the meeting and, before long, Susan and Connie decided to travel together in November of 2009 to see Rwanda for themselves.
According to Susan, “It was a fantastic trip! We saw so many ministries, met the beautiful people, and saw the Mountain Gorillas. And we each found ministries that we could help!”
The Apostle Paul uses an interesting word in Philippians 4:3. The Greek word used is “synergon,” literally co-workers. You can find it 13 times in the New Testament. Of course, the word immediately brings a modern word to mind: “synergy.”
In the text, Paul mentions Euodia and Syntyche, and then writes: “they have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life.”
Years ago, my friend Les Lofquist shared something profound. If you look at the life of Paul the Apostle, you can trace different levels of partnership with many. It is like “contact tracing” in the midst of this pandemic, right?
We know that Paul was very close to Barnabas, Silas, Timothy and Titus. They traveled and served together in many places. But, how many individuals did Paul call his “co-workers,” “synergoi?”
The Apostle Paul used this word to identify14 individuals. Here they are: Prisca, Aquila, Urbanus, Timothy, Titus, Epaphroditus, Clement, Mark, Justus, Philemon, Aristarchus, Luke, Demas and Apollos.
Wow, that’s a solid list all by itself. And there’s more…Throughout the Bible, how many individuals did The Apostle Paul reference as part of his “team?”
90! When we think of Paul, we imagine a strong, entrepreneurial leader who wrote most of the New Testament. And that is accurate.
However, if the Apostle were here with us today, I’m pretty sure he would point to his partners. In his writing, he specifically identifies 90 individuals who were part of his team.
Together they changed the world!
One caution: We need to be careful who we are “yoked” to, who we partner with. Think about two oxen that are not properly yoked together. If one is larger than the other, or they are not properly tied together, they’ll just go in circles. Or, if you try to yoke an ox and a cat together, obviously the result will be chaos.
But, when we partner well, the synergy is astonishing. God chooses to work in and through partnership.
Hundreds of Rwandan families will be forever indebted to people like Connie Stevinson and their willingness to partner with God on one of His projects halfway around the world!