As I begin, I must state clearly the fact that anything we are doing that is producing something of value and of goodness, it is not of our doing, but the fact that somehow we got a bit of a grasp of God’s heart. We came into the building of this children’s home through a journey of the heart, not through well thought out strategies and plans. I cannot, like the late Frank Sinatra, say that I did it “my way”. On the contrary, we were a family just trying to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. And, finally, I must say that we have not been in this thing long enough to say that we are by any means experts in the field of children’s home ministry. Having said that, let me share our journey of passion and adventure with you.
It all began for me in February, 2000. Molly and I had just been sent to plant a local church in a low income area of Nairobi, known as Huruma (Mercy) and from the moment we arrived, we were overcome with shock, grief and a sense of helplessness at the affects of the HIV/AIDS endemic gripping the nation and playing out before our eyes. Within the next five years, 5% of our congregation would die as a result of this horrific disease. The hardest thing to deal with was the devastation on the innocent children caught up in the death and ensuing destruction of the family unit.
In June of 2000, Molly and I booked an appointment with the deputy of the Children’s Department of the Kenya Government and asked her the question, “How can we help?” Her answer led Molly and I the path of adoption that led us to adopt our now 18 year old twins. She asked if we wanted the pat answer or the truth? We said “the truth…” She said, “At present (in AD 2000) there are 1.4 million orphans or Vulnerable children in Kenya. All of the orphanages put together take care of about 25,000 of them. They are expensive and could never address the endemic on a reasonable scale. Adoption, however, could grow into a nation wide passion that could some day address the needs of all orphans and vulnerable children.”
Her answer, in context of the development of KKV, raises the obvious question, “Then, why are you doing a children’s home?” Because, #1. The Holy Spirit led my parents to come out of retirement at the age of 75 and start a children’s home and they were too old to sign all the government paperwork for the home. #2., It was something we could do while we await the adoption revolution to turn the tide in Kenya… You see, the stats have become worse today, with 4.3 million orphaned or vulnerable children in Kenya and 45,000 children being cared for in orphanages. So, if we cannot find adoptive and fostering homes for the growing numbers of vulnerable children, at least we can try to emulate the home as we care for a few of them, who never get a chance at adoption. Psalm 68:6 says that “God places the solitary into families.” That is why we decided to build Kings Kids Village using families. As a result, we place our kids into one of our four families on campus.
There are many children’s homes that use this model of group home… Where we differ a bit is that #1. our parents live with the kids 24/7. What our parents do is not a job, but a calling. #2. We try to involve a dad in each home. We have seen tremendous results so far. In most children’s homes in Africa, it is not hard to see that the children are starved for identity and affection. Children normally swarm a group of visitors vying for attention. At Kings Kids Village, our kids barely notice visitors as they play and go about their relatively normal lives…
In Mark 3:32-35, Jesus was told that his mother was asking to talk to him. He then said that those who do the will of God are His real family. At first glance, I find this passage difficult. It sounds as if Jesus is discarding His real family. But what I believe He was actually saying is that everybody who believes and surrenders their lives to Jesus, belongs to His family. As believers, we are compelled to care for those who are hurting and to introduce them to the Family of God, the greatest family on earth. We know that a children’s home can never replace the natural family, but we can do what we can to be the family of God to them. We believe the words spoken over KKV are true, that “Out of the forgotten will come the begotten.” Jon and Molly Stern