This week’s guest post is from my friend Pippa Peppiatt of Winchester, England. Pippa is the co-director of Karis Kids, a ministry that works with Ugandan families in the slums of Kampala, caring for orphaned and vulnerable children. Pippa is a retired nurse and her husband Tim is a doctor. They live in Winchester, UK with their four children, ages 8 to 19. Visit Karis Kids at www.kariskids.org.uk.
Most of us see photos of poverty in sub-Saharan Africa and think, Oh, how sad. But how many of us actually do something about it? I think most people want to do something. They just don’t know what or how!
I’ve been a Christian for most of my life, more than three decades, thinking I was going all right because I was trying to follow God in my personal walk with my own family, church, and community. Then, in a new way and at a new level, God began to speak to Tim and me about the passion He has, His heart, for the poor.
In my comfortable UK life, I hadn’t often rubbed shoulders or gotten personally involved with the lives of the poor who don’t know where their next meal is coming for. I had never met the lovely “carers” (family caregivers, not necessarily biological mums) who may have to sleep with a man because he’ll promise them one meal for their little family. I had never really thought about the hygiene issues these families face on daily basis, with no toilets and no running water.
Jesus encourages us to reach out to the poor, to care for widows and orphans. To me, that’s more than just a duty; it’s a compulsion. When you start putting personal faces on the staggering, heart-breaking statistics of poverty by getting personally involved with families who are among the most needy in the world, your heart is moved. You’re quickly inspired to put faith into action, in a very personal way. That’s what has happened to us–not only to Tim and me, but to our children as well.
When Tim and I went over to Uganda in 2006 we realized that in all the relief efforts we saw taking place there, the local Ugandan Church was being totally bypassed. There was no one empowering local Ugandan churches to get involved in ministering to the very poorest of their own community . There were a lot of “white” independent missions going on (which was great) but the local Ugandan churches were, quite frankly, possibly getting a little lazy, thinking the “white man” had all the answers. We had a sense God was calling them–and us–to so much more.
So, in conjunction with the bishop of Kampala under the covering of the Church of Uganda, we established Karis Kids to support local Ugandan churches and connect them with Western families and churches who also had a heart to help.We link churches in the West with Ugandan churches that work with the poorest of the poor in Kampala,. We connect small groups, families, and mentor organizations/individuals to specific families in the slums. We help them develop relationships to support and resource these families in an effort to see them grow and prosper.
Besides food and education, kids and their families receive water purification kits, mosquito nets, and double bunk beds. That because the slums are located on swamp land, where the mosquitoes are terrible. And when the swamps flood, it wipes out the family’s belongings and they lose everything. The simple provision of bunk beds means that all the kids can climb to the top bunk, have somewhere to sleep, and save their belongings.
It is such a privilege to be sharing God’s love in a practical way. God seems so real, so close, in the slums. Somehow in it all, we feel we are really finding God in a way we’ve really never found Him before. We feel His heart and we get to share it.
Maybe that’s why Jesus said, “Whatever you did for the least of these, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40).