I went on a trip with my family with New Hope Initiative in 2012 to their project in Kenya – the Kiberia slum. It was a wonderfully eye-opening trip, but I was told it was their most “popular” trip and many people went each summer. Then I heard about their project in Sierra Leone, where few people visited because the travel was difficult, and my heart called me to go.
I first visited in 2013, and I immediately fell in love with the children at the children’s home. I talked extensively with Francis Rogers, the local pastor who started the children’s home, and felt his passion and heart. I knew I wanted to become more involved.
After that first trip, I was scheduled to go again the following year, but ebola hit and travel was not allowed. We were not able to travel there until 2016, and then I made trip two and three.
Director Phil d’Entremont saw my heart for the project and asked me to become his assistant. That’s when I became involved in fundraising, raising awareness of the project, administrative tasks, and now leading two teams. The trip coming up this month will be my fifth time there. Every time I go I learn more and more about the culture, the kids’ stories, and what is happening in the communities. The project has spread beyond the walls of the children’s home and we now sponsor village church plants.
Blue Ridge became connected because I was relentless! When we first moved to Lynchburg three years ago, we quickly became involved at Blue Ridge. I felt God leading me to approach the Mission Team with this project, and I met with them shortly after we started attending. It took several meetings and lots of prayer on their part and mine, but Blue Ridge finally decided to send JoHannah McKinney to check things out and to align Kids Community with the kids at the home. JoHannah quickly saw what captured my heart and it captured hers. We both knew this was something Blue Ridge could get behind.
Many of the children at the home were starving, abused or thrown away by their families. This project has given them a hope beyond our understanding. They are so thankful for Pastor Rogers and the love he has given them. But more importantly are their Christian upbringing and the gift of Jesus. As the kids get older, they will be equipped to share the Gospel and that is something we encourage and foster every time we go visit them.
The Blue Ridge team going in this month, led by JoHannah and Zach Battiste, will be having a Kids Community-type production in the local church for the village kids. Last year, a small Kids Community team did similar work at the children’s home for “our kids” and Pastor Francis was blown away. He wants to have it in his local church, so village kids can come hear the Gospel and most likely their parents will be listening in as well. This will be an amazing community outreach.
Blue Ridge has also adopted a local village where a local church was recently planted. The team will be doing a mini production there for the same purpose. Going into this country and especially this local bush village church is truly going to the ends of the earth. I am so thankful for the involvement of Blue Ridge and can’t wait to see what happens next!