Two Hearts Connected Through Love
By Kristi CulpThe staff here at Coast Hills are much more than names and faces. Hear their hearts and get to know them better in every issue of Unfolding. This month, writer Kristi Culp met with Kate Johnson, the Associate Director of Jr. High Life who also has a passion for kids in Kenya.
What began as a medical trip to Kenya turned out to be one of the most impactful and transformational journeys Kate Johnson has ever taken. Before she left, Kate had no idea what God had in store for her. While a mission trip to Africa had always been on her to-do list, she feared that a mere desire to go wouldn’t be enough reason – as far as she was concerned, her calling was growing the hearts and minds of American children through youth ministry. However, once she met Veronica and arrived at Belwop Children’s Home in a rural Kenyan village, she knew her life would never be the same.
Kate heard Veronica’s heartbreaking story earlier that year and knew in her heart that she had to help. Shortly thereafter, she was able to get involved with Belwop Children’s Home, Veronica’s start-up orphanage, and help it grow to its current state of 23 resident children. She contributed wherever she was needed, took on both small and large projects, and served as Veronica’s personal cheerleader every step of the way.
Over time, she became so passionate about the work Veronica was doing that she returned to the states to spread the word and gain momentum. Kate used the fire in her heart to raise money at Azusa Pacific University (APU) and was able to further support her worthy cause. As word spread about the life-changing opportunities in Kenya, Kate’s desire to be involved hit a new level and she was able to take a team from APU to help paint and repair the orphanage.
Veronica’s faith and the change she saw at Belwop have inspired Kate to keep in touch with the orphanage and return to Kenya several times. Regardless of the circumstances, barriers, or hurdles, Veronica always exclaims, “God will do it.” Not “God can do it; He will do it.” One such hurdle is the cost of rent for the building they are currently in. But Veronica has continued to put her confidence in the Lord and is now in the process of opening an orphanage of her own. Kate quickly jumped on board and has been working diligently toward their goal. She has been spreading the word and raising money to help fund this new orphanage, which is designed to house an astonishing 100 children.
Kate has been transformed by her time spent serving and helping out with the orphanage, as well as from the bond she and Veronica now share. “At the beginning, I realized that this relationship with Veronica was not only a tangible thing, but was also presenting a real need that I felt called to step out and do something about,” says Kate. “It was a responsibility that I felt God had placed in my hands.” These two women, though a world apart, are still able to send prayers and blessings to one another through email. The difficulties they’ve experienced along the way have strengthened their relationship and they now share a bond that is connected not only through love, but through God. Kate no longer looks at her trips to Kenya as mission trips, but as a chance to visit her “home away from home.”
Kate’s outpouring of love turned into an investment in the lives of people she’d never met in a country she’d never visited. Her amazing story is one of growth, love, and friendship that shows how a connection between two people, oceans apart, can inspire incredible change. Imagine investing your heart, time, and love into someone else’s life and changing your worlds forever. You never know what could happen. As the Christian band Sanctus Real puts it, “Every soul is worth the fight, ‘cause we can change the world by changing just one life.”