People who decide to read my blogs will quickly discover that Mpeirwe Ivan Twinomucunguzi is one of my heroes and I will never grow tired of writing about the many ways his life speaks to me of Jesus. I met Ivan in March of 2008 when I began my service with another non profit organization. I was the sponsorship lead in America, Ivan the sponsorship lead in Uganda. We first met when his group met our group at the Entebbe airport at 11:30 at night to pick us up. My first impression was that he was reserved, quiet. This turned out to be true, to his detriment, as in our first few days together I wondered if the man talked at all. Which of course would NOT be an easy person to run the sponsorship program with.
Wrong, wrong, wrong. I have grown accustomed to being wrong during my visits to Uganda but I don’t know that I have ever been more wrong about anyone as I was with Ivan those first few days. I even questioned whether or not he was the right fit for the work, being that he is an engineer, speaks 6 languages and has a brilliant mind. I thought he would be bored.
The truth is the man has the biggest heart for children that I have ever met. Ivan understands and feels their pain. His own childhood experience included poverty, abandonment, lack of food, shelter, clothing, medical care, tuition for school and absence of family. He understands children’s fears because he felt fear himself. Ivan understands the loss of self esteem and hope and power, feeling helpless and worthless. He understands what vulnerable and orphaned children need most of all and is driven to meet those needs out of a compassionate heart and a love for Jesus. Ivan lives the verse, “Whatever you do to the least of these, that you do unto Me.”
I am not exaggerating when I claim that to watch Ivan with children is inspiring. It is not a stretch to imagine Jesus himself there. Same gentle touch and same inclined head so he can better hear their hushed whispers. Patience as they struggle to answer questions or understand our intentions. Ability to read their hearts and provide tutoring or encouragement or discipline or games or prayer or a trip to the beach or a safe place to share. Same welcoming availability. And most inspiring, Ivan shares Jesus’ heart towards his Heavenly Father with the same desire to bless others with God’s love and hope.
Finally, as is evident in this photo with little Glorious, after 5 years of serving with this man I can tell you he LOVES children. All children. In fact he would much rather spend his time with them than with adults. When he is with them he is alive, happy, laughing. When they are gone he is missing them. When they return he is there waiting expectantly. That they meet Jesus and receive an education are his deepest passions. Yes, that first time I met Ivan I thought he was quiet and reserved. Explanation? I had not yet witnessed him with the children. MCM is beyond blessed to have Ivan as our leader. In his world as in Jesus’, children are treasures.