if we don’t, then who will? (reflections from #AfricaWH day one)

Written by Dan King

Christ-follower. husband. father. author of the unlikely missionary: from pew-warmer to poverty-fighter. co-author of activist faith: from him and for him. director of family ministry at st. edward's episcopal church. president of fistbump media, llc.

January 17, 2014

I think I came in to our agenda for today expecting a huge God-moment. You know the kind I’m talking about. That moment when it feels like the entire revelation of God’s will for the whole world just pours out on you. It’s that moment you end up pointing back to later in your life and saying something like, “Everything took a major turn when God touched my heart that day.”

I waited for it.

And it never happened.

At least not until I sat down to write this post. It’s probably because it wasn’t a single big event. Instead, it was a theme that continued to emerge throughout the day. And if there’s one word that I would put on the entire experience for today, it’s this one…



I held 9-month old baby boy named Serwadda in my arms this morning. He was abandoned by his mother who couldn’t care for him. I can’t imagine what it would be like to walk away from your own child; to feel like there’s no other way out. Even though he was early in his recovery, he was doing well. In a few months he’ll be healthy enough to move out of the hospital.

I also held a 7-year old boy who was lighter than my two and a half-year old daughter. He was so severely malnourished that he weighed only 7 pounds when he was brought in a few months earlier. You heard that right… 7 pounds at 7 years old. But today is a big day for him! After several months of treatment, he can now walk and talk! So he’s “graduating” to the Destiny Villages of Hope, a place where he’ll continue to grow and learn for many years to come.

abandoned, katwe, slum, kampala, uganda

I walked the streets of the Katwe slums today, the second largest slum in all of Africa. It has over 500,000 people living in conditions most of us would find completely unbearable. There was fecal matter in the road where children run and play. There was the ever-present smell of burning trash. There was the man digging for God-knows-what in the trash-cluttered ditch. And there was the rapidly growing church being a beacon of Light in a dark and seemingly hopeless place. It’s a church with 2,500 people (and growing) coming to one of three services where they serve up healthy doses of the Word.

Then I met the children of Destiny Villages of Hope. There were kids like Jerry, abandoned by his mother in the Katwe slums. Left behind with no one to feed or care for him. (Watch Jerry’s Story now on Vimeo!) Now a vibrant young boy, full of spunk and life! As are all the kids who live with him at Destiny Villages of Hope.

abandoned, orphan, uganda, destiny house

And we made art today.

We watched children paint things like, “I love Jesus,” and “God is Love,” and hearts, and flowers, and soccer balls on big stretches of canvas (which we’ll be talking more about later). They created something amazing and beautiful today. We gave them the chance to express themselves, and they shined a light to the world… because someone shined a light on them.

And that is the theme I watched emerge throughout the day…

One question swirled around through my mind (and my heart) all day, and it’s the question of who will care for these kids. If we don’t, then who will? Will it be a Godly influence who sows life, hope, and redemption into their lives, empowering the kids to have a positive impact on their society? Or will it be a world that takes advantage, and, well… you get the idea.

I met leaders today like Eva and Sarah, and many others who have dedicated their lives to helping and caring for others. They see the value of each precious soul who crosses their path, and they relentlessly pour out hope into those lives. They are shining examples of God’s heart for the orphaned and the poor.

Vindicate the weak and fatherless;
Do justice to the afflicted and destitute.

~ Psalms 82:3 (NASB)

This is where you come in.

We need your help. We need people to come alongside these leaders and the work they’re doing. And the same question that defines them, also defines us. If we don’t, then who will? The easy route is to turn a blind eye, or ignore the fact that we can truly make a difference in someone’s life. It’s hard work sometimes to raise your hand and say, “Yes Lord, I’m willing. Use me.”

So here’s how you can help…

  1. Dontate $10, $20, $100, or whatever number God puts on your heart to our Rescue Homes project. In order for Destiny Villages of Hope to have the room to bring in more children, they need places to house them. Every donation helps, and connects you to this great work.
  2. Share the stories from our blogging team. Read the stories from Emily Wierenga, Matt Appling, Michele-Lyn Ault, and Noel Yeatts, and share the links on your social networks. We need these stories to get in front of more people.
  3. If you blog, then help us tell the stories. Talk about how these stories have inspired you to make a difference. Talk about how you are taking a stand to help where the help is needed. Use your voice to reach the people you have influence with, whether it’s 10 or 10,000.

Most importantly, continue to pray for these children and the local leaders who continue to shine a Light.



  1. Shelly Miller

    Great start Dan. Praying for you all and expectant. I felt, when I read your first paragraph that what I am hearing in my prayers is God’s heart. I shared a bit with Em. May we never forget the abandoned, the fatherless, the orphan who has no place to lay his head. I’m sharing away over here on social networking, can’t wait to hear more.

    • Dan King

      You rock, Shelly! Today really set the tone for my heart for the rest of this trip! I’m so inspired by these people who have answered that call, and am honored to be a part of coming alongside them!


  2. Diane Bailey

    I don;t even know what to say. I feel like I’m rocking babies in my heart. Wish I could hold them in my arms.

    • Dan King

      ohmygosh… holding those babies… precious! hearing a baby like Serwadda giggle and laugh with me… melt my heart!

  3. Alyssa Santos

    Ah, Africa! It breaks our hearts so God can fit into the cracks. They call it the Dark Continent, but there is a light of faith that is indistinguishable and never more apparent than in the smiles of the children and in the faces of the poorest of the poor. I’m so glad you get to experience it person! When I went we had no way to communicate back home and my brain and heart were too full to say anything that made sense anyway. I love seeing the pictures and I will share and continue to pray for your team daily.

    • Dan King

      You are SO right about the light here in Africa! It shines bright, and I feel so blessed to be with these people who teach me SO much about what it means to have faith and be a Christian.

      Thank you for following along, and praying for our team!

  4. pastordt

    Wonderful, Dan. So beautifully told. Thanks so much for going, for writing, for caring.

    • Dan King

      Thank YOU for reading! I pray that our stories continue to bless you!

  5. Theresa

    Tears and prayers….thank you and your team for sharing your stories…I feel like I am there. Hugs from esc

    • Dan King

      Thanks Theresa! It’s always my goal on trips like this to bring people as close as I can to what I’m experiencing. Hugs!

  6. 1lori_1

    I am really inspired and moved by this trip. I am sharing via social media and my blog all about it. We can’t spread the love far enough! Thank you.

    • Dan King

      Thank you SO much for helping us spread the word, Lori! #fistbump

  7. Dana Lawson

    Thank you, Dan, for sharing these pictures, stories, and thoughts. I absolutely will pray for these children and their leaders, and will share this post…
    Keep up your great work!

    • Dan King

      Thank you, Dana! You rock!

  8. Loretta Soto

    Thank You Dan, For your amazing post.
    My heart and prayers are walking along the path where God had placed you and the others. I know it is so hard just to see a child that is so left alone from their own family. Or being taken away to learn how to spread hate and death upon another person.
    They are God’s little children, who so deserved to be loved and hugged, and cradled in the arms of a gentle person.
    It saddens my heart just knowing they have so little, But! They have love in their small hearts for others.
    I thank God for the loving help that they are getting from all the workers who put their loving hands to help and care for their small bodies.
    Please know that when you pick up and hug a child I am also giving them a special motherly {{{{{{HUG}}}}}
    looking forward to hearing from you and the others.
    May God keep Blessing you and giving you the extra strength you will need in the coming day.
    God Bless! Loretta,

    • Dan King

      thank you loretta! i so appreciate your thoughts and your prayers! i thought of you today as i hugged more kids at the site of our recuse homes project… it was a blessing to be with them!


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if we don’t, then who will? (reflections from #AfricaWH day one)

by Dan King time to read: 5 min