Imana Kids was birthed from a Visiting Orphans trip.
Kimisgara Orphanage is off the beaten path. Most Rwandans know the neighborhood, but have no idea that nestled up in the hills above the street, there lived 97 kids.
You can’t reach Kimi by car. There aren’t roads to get to the children. It’s a hike, and a steep one on loose gravel and packed dirt, surrounded by wild chickens and yesterday’s trash.
We had asked VO for a place that was hard. We know hard, we live with two former Rwandan orphans. We know how a lack of love can harden a child.
Our team thought they were ready. They believed that we had prepared them, that VO had equipped them with the tools, the scripture, the conversations to enable each member to “Go.Be.Love.”
Really, nothing can prepare a heart for the stench, the silence and the desperateness of so many fatherless kids in one little dirt room.
Yet Kimisagara was a family. The lanky teenagers carried toddlers in their arms. Girls held each others hands as they whispered to the babies strapped on their backs. Although these children lacked a water source, a bed or a full stomach, they did not lack family. These kids had made each other their home.
Our team made a vow and Imana Kids was launched. Our mission started out simply: That each child of Kimisagara would know that they had a heavenly Father, that each child had access to an education and that each child had their basic needs met.
Just 14 months later, we have over 100 children from the neighborhood of Kimi sponsored by families that know them by name, know their stories, prays for them and financially supports the child. These families have walked alongside us in meeting our mission. The kids know what it means to be loved, and our teams have been able to build ongoing, lifelong relationships with these orphans.
None of this is us. This is a group that said yes. That group grew to a large community answering the call of James 1:27. It isn’t easy and there isn’t an “Idiot’s Guide to Running a Sponsorship Program,” but God is always present and always moving in Imana Kids. Currently, our nutrition program feeds 25 preschool children with milk twice daily to accompany two meals of fruits and veggies, rice and beans and peanut butter sandwiches. During the school holidays, the number of kids jumps to over 100 when our older students are not at boarding school.
VO doesn’t send tourist missionaries. The teams start a spark and God can turn that spark into a wildfire for advancing His Kingdom and carrying out His work. These trips change the lives of orphans all over the globe. Lives are transformed both stateside and across the borders. Maybe going isn’t for you; you’re raising babies or managing companies or unable to physically get around. This command, to Go.Be.Love., it’s not exclusive for the young, the wealthy or the adventurous. It’s for all of us as His church.