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Heart of a Donor: Al Rowlett, Turning Point Community Programs

Published on December 28, 2020

Danielle Ripley-Burgess
The FCA publication is a gift from our FCA staff to all donors giving $50 or more annually. For more information about giving, visit here.  


Like many believers, FCA Sacramento Board Chair and CEO of Turning Point Community Programs Al Rowlett remembers hearing multiple sermons about growing in the Lord during the new decade as the calendar flipped over to 2020. Looking back over his year so far, he says, “That’s exactly what happened. The Lord teaches us that, if we’re not tested and tried by fire, our impurities won’t be burned off.”

Labor challenges in his workplace drove Rowlett to prayer early on in the year, something he says prepared him for the additional trials to come. On the morning of March 18, his birthday, his agenda involved addressing his staff of mental health professionals to explain their plan for working virtually. But, he took a phone call no parent ever wants to receive: news that his son had unexpectedly passed away.

Trusting that God doesn’t give a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7), got Rowlett through the tumultuous start to the decade, and it has carried him through as additional challenges at work and nationwide racial tensions erupted. His calling to be a Christ-like leader has grounded Rowlett, and he’s resolved to walk in a manner worthy of the calling He has received, regardless of circumstance.


How have you personally found hope in light of this year of adversity?

After I got the call that my son had passed, I prayed, “Lord, I don’t know what I’m going to do right now.” The Lord said to me, “Remember what I did when they told me about John the Baptist? I ministered to 5,000 people. Now go minister.” I took a few minutes, and I told a handful of people in my office. Then, I walked in and delivered the message to my staff about our plans during COVID-19.

I have navigated a lot of things since the pandemic hit, but nothing has been more challenging than that particular day. But I’ve stayed focused on Joshua 1:9: “Be strong and courageous!” With each passing day in California, I’ve had to remember my strength comes from the Lord who made Heaven and Earth.

The Word says anyone who loves the Lord is called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). We get to know the sovereignty and grace of our Lord through adversity. Jesus got to know His Dad through the most difficult things. Yet on the other side, He was exalted at His Dad’s right hand.


As the board chair for FCA in Sacramento, you’ve been helping your local FCA staff navigate discussions about race. What advice have you offered this team that others would benefit from too?

Jesus asked questions, and He understood what motivated others to ask their questions. This is important when we are discussing the murder of George Floyd and the deaths of other people of color. We can get bothered by people asking questions, but they’re important.

The world is looking at believers right now and asking, “Why do you follow Jesus?” They’re not interested in religion, and many view it as harmful and divisive. But they’re fascinated by Jesus. They want to see Him displayed in heart, mind and behavior. So the answer to Jesus’ question was to love God with all heart, soul, mind and strength—and then to love your neighbor as yourself.

The genuine message of Christ means we engage and invite people who are a different demographic from us to the table. We sit down, break bread and have conversations. If we did this in our Republic, we’d be different. It’s not the money we give, but the time we are willing to dedicate to the cause, that will create change.


What role can FCA’s coaches, athletes, staff and donors play when it comes to racial reconciliation?

In some vocations, athletes are predominantly men or women of color. FCA must be responsive to conversations about race. Correction or changes in trajectory of our conversations should come into our lives as believers. Certainly for me or FCA, if I can be an instigator, I’ll do that. Jesus was a perfect instigator; He instigated change better than anyone in the universe. When considering how to enact change, we must follow Jesus.

Many young people are not in church or reading the Bible. How can we model Jesus to our children, students and athletes, particularly as people of color in prominent roles in organizations and as role models? And how can we dedicate resources to organizations that advance the will of the Lord? That’s why I joined FCA.


How has business been in 2020? Have you managed to keep things moving in the right direction despite the adversity?

It’s not my business; it’s God’s business. And He doesn’t mess up or fail. I’m the leader of our company, but Jesus is the Leader of the leader—me. I understand that, and I keep my eyes focused on Him. The outcome has been good. I became CEO in 2015 and our company was making $38 million annually and had 400 employees. Now, we’re at $70 million with 700 employees. This had nothing to do with me. How did we get there? I don’t care to know, I care to know who got us there.






Written with support from Danielle Ripley-Burgess
Photo taken as Rowlett looked at the Atlantic Ocean from an opening in a former slave castle in Accra, Ghana