Sunday, February 13, 2011

Kids International Ministries

This past trip was my second to the Philippines. I first went for my visa run back in October, and it was a whirlwind of a trip with little time to see anything. I was, however, able to get a glimpse of Kids International Ministries. The two hours I spent there gave me the desire to go back. I came home from that first trip and said,

"Babe, let's go to the Philippines for Chinese New Year."

I think she was thinking,

"WHAT?!?! Of all the places we can go, why would we go there?"

To her credit, after I explained the purpose, she was all on board. The reason we decided to go to the Philippines over our Chinese New Year holiday was to see what Kids International Ministries was all about and to help out where needed. Our secondary goal was to get a bit of a vacation before starting our second semester of teaching. Thankfully, we were able to accomplish both goals.

"picture, picture!"

You might be curious how we came across Kids International Ministries. One of the nice things about coming from a family that has been in ministry for two generations is that you find connections all over the world. Jeff Long, the founder of KIM, grew up in the church that my grandfather pastored and then went to college with my parents. It's always exciting to randomly find someone in another part of the world that your family knows.

After arriving in Manila, our eyes were opened to the extent of poverty that many Filipinos live in. They are often caught in a downward spiraling cycle that has been going on for generations. The men use their meager income on cockfights, cigarettes, and beer. They then proceed to go home and abuse their families. The women spend their time in idleness or gambling. These people live every day in despair, hopelessness, and spiritual darkness. These are the people that KIM seeks to reach.

KIM was started by Jeff and his family in 2003. As the story goes, the family was eating dinner at a fast food restaurant when some street kids came along asking for help. One of the Long children, who was quite young at the time, adamantly stated,

"Dad, I just don't understand why we can't do more for these kids."

 In an effort to do more for these kids, KIM was born.

After 7 years of operation, KIM is involved in a whole host of things. Situated in a shack community, KIM helps through regular community feedings, medical aid, a dental clinic, taking care of pregnant women, schools for those who can't afford it, trades education, literacy education, discipleship, sports outreach, prison ministry, Jeepney (a street magazine that is designed to provide jobs for the poor and articles about the plight of the poor), and a couple of children's homes. Really, the better question seems to be...what do they not do?


You may be asking, How do they have the time and manpower for all of this? That's a great question. First of all, KIM seeks to carry out these ministries through the local church. Secondly, KIM is remarkable at utilizing short-term teams. In fact, much of the work that is done could not be done without the help of short-termers. KIM is great at asking people how they are gifted, and encouraging them to plug in wherever they would be best suited. There is a constant flow of people who help in a variety of ways. This is something that I enjoyed seeing. In many places throughout the world, short-termers are more of a hindrance than a help to established missionaries. That's not the case here.

There are a number of things we appreciated about KIM. One of which was the way they focus on integrating the spiritual and material needs of people. We mentioned this in an earlier post, but I believe it warrants rementioning simply because of the fact that there aren't many ministries that do this well. They seem to put thought and emphasis into helping people in a wholistic manner. I remember Jeff saying once,

"It's hard for people to be interested in hearing about Jesus when their tooth is hurting."

Can't argue with that.

We left feeling burdened and heavy from the things that we saw but also encouraged that the Lord is at work through the missionaries of KIM.

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