We haven’t written an update since January because, honestly, it’s been too painful. In our last update, we wrote about our time in Zambia and proclaimed victory in our work and relationships there. This changed before we even got on the plane to leave South Africa. We had travelled there with a team of 9. At the time we left, there was a team of 6 still serving there. One, in fact, still remains serving there. There were 3 others who stayed there for a little over 2 months. With much angst, effort, and prayer, we really do feel we tried everything to make our relationship and ministry there work. In the end, our board voted unanimously to end our relationship with the ministry overseeing the orphanage in Zambia.
To explain this decision, history is important. Our call to orphanage work began in the 3 years that we lived in San Diego and served as the physicians to disabled orphans at La Mission Carmen Serdan, Mexico. We visited there one weekend monthly for 3 years and were so impressed by how well these children were loved and taken care of at this orphanage that was fully supported by Applegate Church in Medford OR. We experienced firsthand James 1:27: “This is pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God. And Father, to visit orphans and widows in their distress.” Kirk felt the call for us to continue to be involved in orphanage work after our time in San Diego. He had read a book about George Mueller called “Man of Faith” that describes George Mueller caring for some 2000 orphans without ever asking man for money. In January 2003, Kirk felt the Lord calling him to put his reverence for George Mueller’s faith into action and start an orphanage relying only on the Lord for money. Having met a pastor in Kitwe, Zambia in 2001 and knowing the need for the care of AIDS orphans there, he sent that pastor an e-mail sharing his vision. Although they had never discussed this subject before, the pastor was enthusiastic about the vision and began praying and researching what it would take to open an orphanage in Kitwe. At the time, For Hearts and Souls had $250 in the bank, so it was going to require a work of the Lord. The pastor traveled to the U.S. soon after this and spoke at a church about the vision for an orphanage in Zambia and the church poured out a generous love offering. This and other donations allowed the opening of For Hearts and Souls Children’s Village (FHASCV) in a rented house in July 2003.
Our vision from the beginning of FHASCV was to never seek man for money to support this work, but to always seek the Lord. FHAS committed to always meet the monthly budget for this work. God was gracious in answering this promise. From July 2003 to February 2008 FHAS was never unable to meet the agreed upon monthly budget for FHASCV and was always able to increase the budget when requested to do so. In addition, FHAS was able to provide funding to purchase land for FHASCV so that it would no longer be housed in a rental home. Kirk led a team there in the summer of 2004 to build a foundation for this new building. By the grace of God and through the generosity of many donors, we returned with a team in January 2006 to officially open this building. We called the building Mimi’s House in order to honor the generosity of a woman who helped make the opening of this building possible. In 2006, we opened Betsey’s House, honoring the generosity of a widow who enabled us to start a ministry to teenage girls who formerly lived on the streets. This was also started in a rental house and FHAS has since been able to acquire land in order to build a house for this ministry. A foundation has been laid on this land. The amount of money (over $300,000) donated through FHAS since July 2003…without ever asking man for money…is really a testimony to the grace and goodness of the Lord.
The beginning of the end of our relationship in Zambia was when, in 2007, we discovered pictures of the children who live at FHASCV on another ministry’s website seeking donations for support of an orphanage of a different name. We will confess difficulties in our relationship over the years, but nothing worth ending the relationship over. We had introduced a friend to the ministry in 2004 who, we believe with the purest of heart and best intentions, ended up causing much offense. Consistent with Zambian culture, this offense was credited to us because we had introduced this person. We have had countless conversations seeking forgiveness, but, we realized again this past January, have never been completely forgiven. This offense caused the pastor overseeing the work in Zambia to believe we were not trustworthy and to start another foundation to seek funding for his work in Zambia, including the orphanage work. This foundation is named Sarah Rose, after his daughter who died right before the orphanage opened in 2003. We knew this foundation was started and why and truly respect this couple’s desire to honor their daughter. Our only request was that this foundation not be used to seek man for money to support For Hearts and Souls Children’s Village. We realized last year that this request was not being honored. In meeting and talking with the pastor this past January, we further realized that the name of FHASCV had long ago been changed in Zambia without our knowing it. He has partnered with other ministries since FHASCV started that do not know the name or history of FHASCV. Although we have been accused of wanting the glory for this ministry, our true concern is that the Lord get the glory. We understand that many people and organizations have made donations of time, money, and materials to make this orphanage ministry possible and have no issue with and are grateful for that. We simply desired that all involved in the ministry trust in the Lord to lay it on people’s hearts to provide for His orphans. We can testify that in the almost 5 years that FHAS provided for the monthly budget, there was not a single month that there was not enough money in our bank account to do so.
We took our team of 9 to Zambia in January truly desiring, hoping, and praying for reconciliation. As we wrote in our update shortly after our trip there, we submitted to Christian mediation and sat for hours with the pastor and his wife. We truly felt at the end of this meeting that we had finally been forgiven for the past offense credited to us and had an agreement for moving forward in partnership with the Sara Rose Foundation. We did desire honor for the history of the ministry in acknowledging the name For Hearts and Souls Children’s Village, but we were willing to share the name with Sara Rose Foundation. Sara Rose Foundation is involved in a lot of good work in Zambia. We have no interest in how they run their affairs for their other ministries nor in how they seek funds for those ministries. We simply desired that they not solicit funds for the two ministries named Mimi’s House and Betsey’s House, but continue to rely on the Lord to provide. It came down to our integrity as an organization. We testify regularly that we never seek man for money. This testimony needs to be true. Also, we left 3 of our team in Kitwe for over 2 months specifically to oversee the ministry and how funds were being used. One of these people was Kirk’s mom, who serves as For Hearts and Souls’ accountant. The other two were a couple who are among our closest friends. They both have significant international ministry experience and she serves on our board. We discovered that money we sent earmarked for certain expenditures was not being used as we believed. We absolutely have no integrity with our donors if we cannot guarantee that the money they are giving for a specific purpose is not being used for that purpose. The details of the story are long and not worth recounting, but suffice it to say we could not come to agreement on these two particular issues and the board of For Hearts and Souls unanimously agreed we had to part company with Sara Rose Foundation. At the time we informed them of this decision, we told them we would be willing to entirely administrate and fund Mimi’s and Betsey’s Houses, but we could no longer do so in partnership with Sara Rose Foundation. They were unwilling to let us do this.
I cannot fully describe to you how heartbreaking this decision has been. I alluded to problems in the relationship over the years. I can testify, as his wife, how many nights, for years, Kirk has laid awake thinking and praying about this situation. We never wanted to be guilty of pride in reference to this work, so we have overlooked concerns, wanting to make sure our motives were pure. And our overwhelming concern since July 2003 has been the care of the orphans that we truly love. We wanted to make sure they were taken care of well. We submitted to mediation. We brought many people we love and respect to visit the work in Zambia who could give us their advice and perspective. We sought endless counsel. And we finally submitted all we had discovered and been through to the board of For Hearts and Souls, who voted unanimously for our separation from Sara Rose Foundation. It’s been over 3 months since this decision was made. I am just finally getting around to writing about it. We have yet to update our website about it. Please forgive us. We weren’t trying to hide anything or be deceitful. I confess we were honestly hoping we’d be able to be involved in the ministry again. The history of the ministry has been changed for those who now know it in Zambia, but this ministry was a vision given by the Lord to Kirk. By Zambian law, we had to have a Zambian in oversight of the ministry when we originally set up the ministry. In Zambia, the name of the ministry was changed without our knowing it. For Hearts and Souls has no rights or privileges. It became something that we could no longer be involved in and maintain our integrity. Our Zambian pastor friend who served as our mediator said “when the giants wrestle, only the grass is injured.” The orphans are the grass. We so desired for them not to be injured by our wrestling. We sincerely pray to the Lord for His care and protection of them. We have truly been humbled and broken by this experience.
The work of For Hearts and Souls continues, however. We still fund the schooling of some 25 orphans in Lusaka, the capital of Zambia. We were supposed to take a team of 16 to Yemen in April to participate in a pediatric cardiac surgery symposium and perform heart surgery on 8 kids. The day before we were supposed to leave, there was an attack on US Embassy housing in Yemen, prompting the State Department to “strongly discourage” us from coming. Following this disappointment, Kirk and I were able to respond to an eleventh hour request to return to the Mayan Peninsula in Mexico (where we did a children’s heart screening trip last year) and evaluate some children, as well as a hospital where teams from the U.S. will be able to train physicians and perform cardiac surgical procedures. In fact, a team has already returned there subsequently to perform some cardiac catheterizations. Lord willing, we will lead teams to Yemen and Mexico in the future. We do have a trip planned to Mongolia again this September: one week for screening children for heart disease and one week of cardiac surgical and catheterization procedures. We are still the Lord’s willing servants and will follow where He leads.
Kim & Kirk
I am sorry to hear of your painful experiences in working on behalf of orphans in Zambia. I am working on behalf of orphans in Bulgaria, and I know that sometimes there are cultural differences that are difficult to understand and that create great pain and hardship. Thank you for caring for the orphans. I know what it means to love orphans and to desire the best possible care for them, as this is a daily experience for me. May the Lord encourage your hearts and direct you in His ways. If you ever desire opportunity to come to minister in the area of healthcare in the lives of orphans, please let me know. Bless you!
Hi my name is Miranda Meier and I am a senior in high school. Every year the seniors at my school are required to complete a project called Senior Expo in which we do a community service project, apprentice a professional, or write a thesis. I am interested in volunteering for an organization similar to Hearts and Souls once I go to college, but I am wondering if there is any sort of apprenticeship opportunities. If you could let me know as soon as possible that would be great.
i was young to understand when you people stopped visiting the orphanage..i was one of the person who was affected.hope you remember me (fred.