Today we welcome a guest post by Kristin Barringer. Kristin was born in Montgomery, Alabama and grew up in Texas, Alabama, and South Carolina. She attended Lenoir-Rhyne College in Hickory, North Carolina where she played basketball and got an undergraduate degree in Family Ministry. She then went on to work in the athletic department at Purdue University and got her masters in Sport Administration. Then she moved back to Montgomery, Alabama where she coached basketball and taught at Trinity Presbyterian School. After three years of coaching and teaching, Kristin moved to Ndola, Zambia to work with Wiphan Care Ministries. She loves adventures, reading books, hanging out with friends and family, and dark chocolate.
It is hard to describe what the last 6 months of my life have been like, but just to quickly catch you up…I was teaching and coaching in Montgomery, Alabama, when I heard God say, "go serve me overseas." I obediently said yes, and I now live in Ndola, Zambia. I work for a non-profit organization called Wiphan (Widows + Orphans) and our mission is James 1:27 “to care for Widows and Orphans in distress”. We do this through providing education for 400 orphans, a home for 15 children, and skill training for widows who are in desperate need of a job.
It is very hard to describe what life is like here, because it is so different from life in the States. But just to give you an overarching idea: 1 in 5 people have AIDS, the life expectancy is 38 years, and most people live in homes made of mud; yes mud.
I could go on and on with facts and statements about life here in Zambia, but I want to share with you the story of someone that I have grown to love. I feel as though we could talk about the ups and downs of life all day long, but in the end, it is stories like this that matter.
Her name is Ruth and I first met her 6 months ago during my first trip to Ndola. I quickly learned that Ruth was running away from home and sleeping in the market. I found out that she had been raped three nights in a row at the market and I could not figure out why she continued to go back. My heart broke for her and I could not understand.
When I first met Ruth, she could not even look at me; she would not even smile. I could feel the pain just looking at her, and it was clear that she was desperate for hope. I reminded her that she was loved and then I left feeling unsettled knowing there was more to her story.
A month later I signed up to come back to Ndola to work for Wiphan. The number one priority on my list was to find sweet Ruth. I went to her home and found that again, she was running away, but this time I found out there was a reason. I discovered that she was being beaten at home. You see in Zambia often times family members take on kids because they have nowhere else to go. Kids are orphaned because their parents die of AIDS or even very curable diseases like Malaria. The other kids in the family know that there is not enough food to go around, and therefore sometimes the new kid to the family is abused. This is what was happening to Ruth, so when in need, she ran.
I asked the people she was living with if we could start caring for Ruth. I told them that we wanted to give her a safe home with food to eat. They said they would think about it. Shortly after, I returned to meet with them again, and they had decided that we could care for her. The only problem was that Ruth had run away again. I searched the market for hours and there was no sign of her. Then my phone rang at which time I learned Ruth was home and we could pick her up.
When arriving at her house, I found a giant whelp on her forehead; she had just been beaten. I couldn’t help but think to myself, “If only I was there a little quicker.” We gathered her belongings which all fit into a small grocery bag (yes, a grocery bag) and I walked her to her new, safe home. I wrapped my arms around her and told her she is safe and that I loved her. Here is Ruth on the day I picked her up, she is standing with me and her new mom and sister…
It took time, but slowly the Lord has been healing her. She stopped constantly looking at the ground and she has begun to smile. She has become good friends with her “new sisters” and you can now identify hope on her face. Her new mom loves her and cares for her like she is her own child.
I wish that I could say that Ruth was the only story like this, but that would not be the truth. There are kids that need food, clean water, and most importantly, the hope that Jesus has to offer.
I feel so blessed that I get to be apart of an organization that is passionate about helping people like Ruth. God is at work here and if you want to be apart of what Wiphan is doing, we would love your support. One specific way that you can be the difference in the life of one of our students is through our child sponsorship program (link to more info: http://www.wiphan.org/get-
For more information about Kristin and her work in Zambia, follow her blog at www.kristincoleen.com