I would like to flag today a wonderful charity which was founded and established by a good friend of my husband and our daughter’s Godfather. The charity is called Kids of Africa and it was set up about 10 years ago by an incredible man called Burkhard Varnholt. I was just catching up with their news and reading their latest newsletter and felt compelled to use my blogspace to commend and give thanks to God for the wonderful work carried out by Burkhard and his team over these last few years.
It takes great passion, courage, compassion and vision to begin something like this single-handedly and to then make it grow the way Burkhard now has. I am humbled by the fact that not once I have heard Burkhard discuss with us his faith (indeed, I don’t know whether he is a believer or not), lecture us about compassion, preach to us about our duty to try to make the world a better place, or any of the things one normally hears from other Christians, which can often make us feel like a failure, guilty or a waste of space. He is so understated and humble. He never draws attention to himself or what he has achieved, but simply focuses on the children whose lives he is hoping to change. Indeed he has already changed the lives of over a hundred children. It was never about him, but always about them, and that is what makes him stand out from all the wanna-bes who seek after their own glory without the sacrifice. What an amazing legacy, what a way to live your life. What a way to lead others. Jesus did say that those who humble themselves would be exalted, and to that end I write this post.
I search and search and hope and hope for more people like him amongst those who define themselves as Christian Leaders today. Burkhard leads by example, from the front and sacrificially. To me he exemplifies everything I would wish to achieve and accomplish in my own life as a Christian: a life lived for others and not myself, a life amounting wealth and comfort only to then be able to share and give it away to those who truly need it. If you are at this point thinking that it is easy to give money away when you have much, yes for some people it may be though often the more we have, the tighter we get with it. The kind of leaders who are quick to throw money and promises easily without ever getting their hands dirty never leave a lasting legacy. Burkhard’s impact on dozens of other people, on a community is not just financial, far from it. He travels to Uganda frequently and has overseen every single project, building, and bit of progress taking place in the Kids of Africa Village ever since he started this charity. He knows every child in the orphanage personally and runs the whole thing with a team behind him to support him. He is full-on involved and responsible for everything that goes on within the Charity away and at base.
I don’t want to spend the rest of my days talking about what I can do as a Christian or what I should do, working towards a new vision or program, a new way to reach the community or the freshest way of doing worship. I want to worship God by bringing Him glory and the only way I can do that is not by short-changing him with a few hours of my time singing at the top of my voice in the company of those who think like me, who live like me, who have as much as me or by spending countless hours in meetings trying to re-invent the wheel or have my voice heard above everybody else’s. To glorify God I must take a risk, take a leap of faith, listen to His quiet small voice and follow Him where He wants me to be, doing what he wants me to do for His Glory no matter how small or unrecognised.
In my spirit I see the spirit of Jesus glowing out of Burkhard, whether he is aware of it or not. I see it not in words but in his every act of compassion, unconditional love, servanthood, and selflessness towards these African children and their plight. A heart like that is not cultivated by regularly attending any church, but simply by communing with our Creator, by seeking Him and asking of Him: God, what is the ONE thing I have been created to do that will best honour YOU, bring YOU glory and reveal to the world what is in YOUR heart? Maybe he never even asked God that question, maybe God whispered to him in a dream the vision to start this charity. It doesn’t matter how it all came about. What matters is the fruit he has produced and continues to produce. By their fruit you shall know them, Jesus said.
Burkhard, you are an inspiration and a great example to me and my family.
God bless you!
Please check the Kids of Africa’s website for yourself, and if you are able to donate anything, no matter how small, please know it will be well used. Check out some of the picture galleries on the website to see the standard of work, help and the quality of life that this charity is providing children who before being part of this little village did not have much of a future.
This is not one of your mega charities where admin costs take away a large part of what you donate. Everything goes towards the children, their education and welfare, so please if you can, give generously. The progress made through this charity is always tangible and personalised. Please get involved and support it in any way you can.