by Jean Denton
Brother Bob handed me a flyer. “Rent to Own,” it read: “$600 per month, $36,000 to own. Newly renovated 2 bedroom home on 2 city lots, 50 x 150 feet,” etc.
This is not a great time to move property in the city, much less in the town I was visiting: tiny Dungannon, Va.; population 317. But such a thought hadn’t crossed Brother Bob’s mind. He has faith.
He’s been building, renovating, selling and renting houses in and around Dungannon for the last
eight years. In that time, the enterprise has earned $100,000 — all of it to support development projects in a community on Lake Victoria in Kenya, East Africa.
Back in 2002, a priest from his Glenmary order had visited the small African town on another matter but, when the people asked for assistance with community development, he brought the request home and put it to Brother Bob. Who had faith; he must have. He was 75 at the time, but saw no obstacles.
Today’s readings, particularly the gospel, describe faith like Brother Bob’s: a faith that believes in god’s vision for his people’s care. This faith doesn’t see impediments or countenance doubt. It sees even more than mere possibilities. The prophet Habakkuk spoke of the certainty of god’s vision. It has its time, he said, “and will not disappoint.”
Such faith drives a true servant to work beyond normal expectations in order to see the Lord’s desires fulfilled.
So, Brother Bob put his faith to work with his carpentry skills, laboring nine months a year in his Appalachian village and three months in Kenya. He continues still at age 83. So far, his efforts have led to the construction of four churches, two schools, a pastoral center and 10 water wells in Africa.
Furthermore, they’ve brought the Kenyan community into the prayers of the 18-member Catholic parish in Dungannon, as the people earnestly support the work of their beloved brother and witness the fruits of faith.
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