I have a message burning on my spirit.
But in order to illustrate it I want to tell you a story.
This is a little longer than my normal articles, but please read to the end. You will be transformed by the story of this incredible lady.
Hearing this story has impacted me forever. And it is 100 percent true.
This is a story about Shannon Sedgewick Davis. Move over Oprah I have a new best friend. Her name is Shannon. She is an ordinary woman from a conservative background. Raised in an evangelical Christian family, her mother was a youth leader. She graduated from Baylor Law school and went on to enjoy a diverse number of roles including the Director of Public Affairs for International Justice Mission and was a Founding Director of Tom’s.
She went on start her own Hedge Fund company, and made millions and millions of dollars. She than became the CEO of the charitable arm of the Hedge fund called the Bridgeway Foundation. The Bridgeway Foundation had a broad mission:
To Stop Genocide and Monstrosities across the Globe. Her Hedge Fund gave 50% of the profits away which was managed through the Bridgeway Foundation. We are talking millions upon millions of dollars was given away through this foundation.
Shannon and her company used their company, their funds, and their passion for Justice and Literally Brought Down a War Lord.
I am not exaggerating,
She and her company funded and coordinated a military effort in coordination with the Ugandan government, the US government and a local South African group to stop and bring down a war lord.
Your Business Can Impact Humanity Forever
Here is a woman who believed that a corporation and businesses could be as powerful a force to stand up for injustice as any non-profit organisation or religious community. In fact Shannon believed that the idea that we could show up and work 50 to 60 hours a week and then come home and try to get fired up about the things that makes our heart beat faster is not realistic. How can anyone, regardless of how big our heart is and how deep our passion is, have time for it on the side? Juggling work or our own business, studies, church, children, plus a side passion? For many of us it becomes too much.
For Shannon Issues of injustice made her heart beat Faster. However, instead of addressing this on the side, separate to her day job, her thoughts were this: We spend the majority of our life working. So, it makes sense to be able to address those issues through our life’s work. The place where we spend the majority of our time and energy.
So she found a way to do this. When she did, she found that it served to inspire her entire company. Staff and customers included. In fact, she found when she included her company and customers, on doing well beyond the company, it was as if they were not working, but you are actually doing life together. For they were working together for a greater purpose. She claimed it helped the team work cohesively and at a deeper level together. What she found was this showed the humanity of workmates. Team members and consumers who were a part of the mission, actually felt like they were even a greater part of the team. She felt like people were craving this. Dying to be a part of something greater.
For Shannon, her heart burned for issues of Injustice. It made her heart beat faster.
She combined her passion for injustice, the resources from her business, the skills from her staff and customers, and the experience and intelligence from her own education and prior jobs. This lethal combination served to change the face of humanity forever.
Let me unpack for you the story of this incredible woman as I heard it from her.
The Bridgeway Foundation of which Shannon was CEO, were funding in a number of grants across the globe, with 50% of the profits made from the Hedge fund of her company.
She started to work in Uganda where the Lord Resistance Army (LRA) was causing death and destruction, preying on the poorest of the poor. Here Joseph Kony, the leader of the LRA, would abduct children during the night or in their schools. Children as young as 9-13 years of age would be taken and forced into child armies to commit monstrosities under Joseph Kony’s rule. He would abuse, torture and brainwash them. Tell them that their families were dead and he was all they had. Some of the children turned men soldiers would be there for 20 years.
Shannon and her company started to get involved. They started to fund research in this area. They built schools but then the bad guys would burn them down. Over the months and years that they were involved, it seemed as though they were putting a bandage over the bullet hole and that it was not working. It was not making a lasting effect.
She started to travel over there and meet the children of these mothers and realise that they were just like her children. Sure, they didn’t look the same, but children were children. Kids are kids. They would run around in innocence and joy, kicking around their equivalent of a soccer ball.
It became harder and harder for her to come home and know that these atrocities were going on and not be able to stop it.
She claims that one of the draw backs from getting involved in issues of injustice is that you become intimately aware of the suffering. The reality of the struggles that people are facing from day to day.
She started to recognise discrepancies when the biggest stresses in her day was picking up groceries prior to school pick up and being able to return all 15 phone calls prior to the end of business day. And yet In central Africa there are mothers who are literally hiding their children under banana trees at night to stop people from taking them away, and then being forced into an army where they are made to do horrific and terrible things.
She began to think, if there was someone across my street that I knew was kidnapping children, there is no way that she wouldn’t do something about it.
One day she woke up with the sinking realisation, that despite their great efforts they were not stopping monstrosity across the globe. She decided that either they change their mission statement, or we change what they were doing.
This was a turning point for their company.
Going After a War Lord
With fresh resolution they started to hone in on Uganda’s LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army) and its leader Joseph Kony. They chose to believe that their small company, their business, could actually change humanity, take down the LRA and its tyrant leader in Uganda.
Funding research, they looked at all the pieces that were broken. They travelled to the area. They listened to the experts in the field. When they started listening, they discovered that there were two big gaps in the mission to stop Joseph Coney
A lack of a well-trained force to pursue them.
An ineffective way for communities and the communities in LRA affected areas, to warn each other of the attacks. There are no cell phones out there. For it was praying on the poorest of the poor. The bottom of the development food chain.
Addressing the Gap in Communications
They decided in the beginning to take on communications. Why? Because at that point in time that seemed a lot less scary than taking on a well-trained force to pursue them.
In 2010 they met up with Father Abba Benwa who was with the catholic church. He was already starting to do this. In fact, she noted that when you start to do things like this, the local leadership and the people on the ground, actually know what it is going to take to make a difference but need some resources here and there. In the Case of Father Abba Benwa he already had a radio network, so they went and helped to scale that and put in hundreds of radio towers to exist in these places without mobile phone coverage, so that they now could warn each other.
So if the LRA attacked one small area, say 20 km away and were moving to the next small town to attack them, now they had a mechanism to send off a warning message from the first town attacked to those around them.
Now these anti LRA Radio intelligence towers not only served to warn the communities but also started to provide them with valuable information. They could show them trends with how the LRA was moving. They started to be able to see where they were and where they were going. So then the natural question that came from this was if we know where they are and where they are headed, why don’t we stop them!
Training a Force to Pursue the LRA
The Ugandan Army had been pursuing the LRA for 23 years. They were also deeply passionate about stopping the LRA and Joseph Kony. However, they lacked key resources. The LRAhad done a great job of breaking up into these small bandit groups which was becoming very difficult for the Ugandan army to fight, as it was like dealing with multiple armies. They called it asymmetrical conflict. So Shannon and her company started to look around for people who could provide the right training for the UPDF Ugandan army training force.
After research they found a company called STEP. These were a public private enterprise from South Africa who had experience in asymmetrical conflict on the continent before. They were the absolute right public private company for them. Moreover, these South Africans were passionate about Africans being the solution to Africans in their own continent. They had ownership and a heart to cause change. Shannon and her company then funded the Ugandan army to be trained and provided tactical support. They worked with them for disarmament and demobilisation and reintegration programs.
Their Heart Wrenching Tact to find Missing Children.
They would literally find the children, help them give up their guns and re-enter society.
This is how.
Joseph Coney would kidnap these children at night in towns, or he would go into schools and get the children as young as 9-13 years old. They would spend decades in this army of being brainwashed, abused and indoctrinated. Some had been there for 20 years and were up to 33 years old. All they had known was war. Coney would lie to them and tell them that all their family was dead, and he was their only family now. The trauma issues were more than you could imagine.
They took a play book at what Colombia had done with the FARC. How they were able to draw people out of conflict. This was the tactic used.
They would go into communities, say it was a young boy who was kidnapped at 13 and was now 23 or even 33, and running a cell for the LRA under triple canopy jungle in crazy terrain. They would go into a community of the stolen child and find a living relative. Perhaps it was a mum, a sister or a dad. They would then record a message from them on an i phone. They were able to affix speakers onto the helicopters, plug in their iphones and hover over the regions which they believed these lost children, now turned men rebels, were hiding, and play these voices from their families that they would recognise. They would play their mum or their sister’s voice, pleading with them to put down their weapons and to walk out.
Uganda gave amnesty to anyone who voluntarily walked out (aside from the ICC or Its) They would give instructions of how to come out.
In their time there over 800 came out! 800.
The logistics of this. Think. The out workings of this strategy. To find those children stolen, some decades ago, search in the communities for their living relatives, record a message from them, and then go to the jungle area where they believed that child turned solider from the LRA was hiding, hover over the area with a message playing from a speaker in a helicopter…. Serious devotion. This story has brought me to tears time and time again.
The year before Shannon and her team entered this mission of Uganda, there were 776 people killed and 600 civilians abducted. The year that they withdrew, the LRA had killed
12 and abducted 39.
They had broken the LRA.
Her company spent, in this initiative to stop the warlord Joseph Kony, just south of 13 million dollars.
What a story.
Here is a woman who had an understanding of the heart our Father and burned for justice. She saw and met the young children, broken families, and couldn’t let this injustice happen on her watch. She leveraged her business and her experience and brought her entire cooperation on a journey, where together, they literally mobilised a military effort to bring down a war lord and change a nation forever.
Imagine if we take a hold of the vision and drive that Shannon had. That vision to use her business and finance, her intelligence and training, and her entire backing of her cooperation to stop a great injustice. The thing that made her heart beat faster.
What is my Destiny?
Did you know that the chronic disease such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, weight problems, mood disorders such as anxiety and depression can be reversed or prevented, or at the very least significantly impacted, if we change the way we eat. One of the most powerful things we can do to change our health is to change the way we eat. To look at the way we live. Our mind, our bodies, and our spirits are all interconnected. We need to have health in all components in order to thrive.
I too have a dream
I have a dream that we can live in our full health if we are empowered with the tools of nutrition as well as the practical implementation to instil the right habits of health and wellness and take control of our health.
I want to create a world capturing program that teaches the fundamentals of nutrition and the implementation of this. I want it to combine the Principle of Foods, and of lifestyle a huge part of which is a spiritual component. For you cannot have one without the other. I want it to be accessible and relatable to the world at large and believe without a shadow of doubt, that it can awaken and transform millions across the globe to actualise their optimal health. I too have something that makes my heart beats faster. I too want to combine my business with my passion, my destiny.
What Is your Destiny?
What is your passion. What makes your heart beat faster. What keeps you up at night? What are you called to impact, to change, to reform, to champion, to heal and to restore?
If not us than who,
If not now, then when?
Beloved you are called to “Reign in Life.”
You are called to impact and bring life, light healing and hope.
You are born for this.
Until next time
You are deeply loved and richly cherished.
Reign in Life
I got most of this story from the podcast Building a story brand. The podcast is called Using your business to champion a social Cause. The title of her book which is called “To stop a War Lord” So if you want to know more please listen to the podcast and read her book.
Wink: I repent. I don’t want Shannon Sedgewick Davis to be my best friend. I still want Oprah. Are you reading this? You are still my number one. Just in case there are those of you who are underestimating my love for Oprah. Once I actually go a fake “Fro.” I literally got it sown onto my head by one of the African American Kitchen Helpers who worked at my hospital at the time. I would like to say I was young. But I was the ripe age of 26. I wore it for a month. Looked like a mini Oprah. Just smaller and younger and more Asian/Indian than African American. But then it had to go, because it was dreadfully painful, and I would have trouble fitting it under my surgical cap. True story. Ask my Mum. I even have a photo (that you will NEVER see).
P.S Did you enjoy this? You may also Power of Appreciation.