We have a kindred spirit with this ministry. We first knew Dr. Brenda, because she was my doctor during her medical practice in Gainesville, Ga. When she first broke the news to her patients that she would be leaving her practice to serve on the mission field, my first thoughts were, OH NO, please don't leave, because I had so much faith and trust in her medical advice, etc., but then as GOD spoke to me about being selfish, I soon learned that she and Richard were doing just what GOD was calling them to do, and that was to serve him in a foreign land to help others. And, this is just what they have accomplished, so I was no longer sad about losing her to help others who were in need. She quoted in a statement the below:
As our pastor told me once, “When a Christian loses their joy and peace, it may be because they’re doing the wrong thing in the right place, or the right thing in the wrong place.” It was amazing that God put all the pieces into place so that Richard and I felt the calling at the exact same time. What an awesome God we serve.
And, what an awesome GOD we do serve, my family and I are are greatful to know that Dr. Brenda and Richard did listen to that still small voice and surrendered their calling to the mission fields. Many lives have been touched by their willingness to GO, just as the bible commands us to do. Now, that RIchard has gone on to a much better place, Dr. Brenda and her staff have kept the vision going, and we are proud to play an important part in this mission, by giving of our support, and prayers. If there ever was a ministry that was a great one to support, then Helping Hands is one you would want to follow.
Danny & Lisa Sims
I traveled with Helping Hands to Busia, Uganda over the summer of 2013. It was an amazing life changing experience. I also sponsor a child through their sponsorship program. I enjoy getting updates from my child and can't wait to travel to Busia again someday!
Helping Hands was founded in 2003 by Drs. Richard and Brenda Kowalske, who had their calling to the mission field during a medical mission trip to Bolivia in August, 2002. The vision of Helping Hands has expanded to include work not only in Bolivia, but Uganda, Mexico, and other countries as God has led. Here is the story of Helping Hands.
DR. RICHARD KOWALSKE
I have been a Christian since the age of 8. Brenda and I began mission work through our church in 1999, traveling to Guatemala, Peru, Venezuela, Bolivia, and Uganda, Africa. I am a chiropractor and was in practice in Gainesville, Georgia for 22 years. Brenda is an internal medicine physician, and we found that our medical skills were wonderful avenues for opening doors for spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ! During this time, we would dream at times of what it would be like to do mission work full-time; however, we figured we would have to save our dreams for retirement age!
In August 2002, we traveled to Cochabamba, Bolivia, for a medical/evangelism mission trip with our church in conjunction with a missionary group whose focus is youth. A major ministry is summer youth camps, open to youth from all over Bolivia. These camps offer sports, dramas, one-on-one counseling, and Bible clubs – all as avenues of evangelism. What impressed us so much was the hearts of the missionaries, who worked with little to no resources, organizing evangelistic efforts with only a few dollars, yet giving their all. We visited the campsite (which was being rented to the missionaries at an exorbitant rate!), and our hearts were touched at the work accomplished by the missionaries. It was during this visit to the campsite that God began working in our hearts. Little did we know that on the night of August 15, 2002, our lives would dramatically change.
I had been very excited after visiting the campsite. I am a chiropractor, but have also been a builder all my life, developing a subdivision at one point; I am also visionary-I can drive by a swamp and immediately see a fully developed water park!! As I was falling asleep on the night of August 15, in my mind I was seeing the possibilities of a camp property, and how it could be used so effectively in God’s ministry for the youth of Bolivia, which in time, could affect the whole country of Bolivia. How awesome it would be if I could use all the talents and skills God had given me to be a part of that vision!!
During the night, God showed me what I needed to do to become a part of that vision. I dreamed about the rich man described by Matthew in the Bible. He was a good man, following all of God’s commandments, and asked Jesus, “What do I still lack?” Jesus told him to sell his possessions, give to the poor, and follow Him. The young man went away sorrowful because he had great possessions. He was unwilling to give all to follow Jesus. In my dream, I saw Jesus looking at me…He did not speak, but pointed to me as if asking, “Will you give all to follow me?” I then saw the camp as it could be….dormitories, filled with children from all over Bolivia; sports fields; a modern kitchen; a chapel; auditorium, for presentation of the evangelistic programs; and nearby, missionary housing.
Brenda and I have been successful in our careers, and although we’re not rich, we had a comfortable life-style. God does not require everyone to sell everything and move to a foreign country, but I knew that God was giving us an opportunity to be a part of His purpose and vision, not only for us, but for Bolivia, and the world!
DR. BRENDA KOWALSKE
I was a “church-attender” and a “good person” all my life, but I was 44 years old before I realized that I was lost, and finally accepted Jesus as my personal Savior. And then…”what a wonderful change in my life was wrought!!” My first interest in mission work was sparked in 1999 when our church planned a medical and evangelism trip to Guatemala. Richard and I both felt the calling to go, and we were hooked! For the first time, I knew that my medical knowledge and skills were being used in a way that made an eternal difference in lives.
Over the next few years, we became more involved in missions, including Uganda, Africa. My heart was broken the first day of our clinic in Busia, Uganda, as I saw the sick children who had no medical care, the poverty…..but through it all, I knew that our medical work opened many doors for evangelism that otherwise would not be available. So I cried as I worked, and fell asleep praying for strength to continue our work.
Returning home after each trip, Richard and I would talk about the possibility of doing mission work full-time. The obstacles seemed insurmountable. So we would simply go back to our “real life,” working 16-hour days, and fitting the Lord’s work into our busy schedules.
In early summer 2002, we were asked to be part of a medical team to Cochabamba, Bolivia. At that point in my life, I had become very “unsettled” in my Christian walk. I was doing all the right stuff…. but still something wasn’t right. I had prayed about the trip to Bolivia, and despite not feeling peaceful about it, I went anyway, not even knowing where Bolivia was.
The days at the medical clinic, although successful from an evangelism standpoint, were very stressful for me. I was exhausted; I encountered several very sick patients, and became frustrated by the ordeal of simply trying to get appropriate care for them. By the last night of the clinic, I had simply had enough. I remember sitting in bed in the hotel room, thinking, “God, this is it. I’m through with mission work. I’ve tried my best, I’ve done everything I thought I should do, I’ve worked hard, and I’ve failed. So that’s it, Lord. I’ve been the best Christian I can be, but now I’m just going home and quit trying so hard.” Then surprisingly, I remember feeling peaceful about my decision, as if the pressure was all over with. I went to sleep and had the best night’s sleep that I had had in a long time.
DR. RICHARD KOWALSKE
On the morning of August 16, 2002, I woke up, with a new plan and purpose. I knew my life would never be the same. I couldn’t wait for Brenda to wake up to share my vision. My dream and what God had shown me all just started pouring out. Excitement filled the room. Brenda just sat there on the bed, in a hotel room in Cochabamba, Bolivia, listening. I had no idea what her response was going to be, but then she started crying. I said, “God wants us here to help this ministry full-time. He has blessed us with many skills…construction, teaching, medical….and now He’s giving us a chance to use them for His work.
DR. BRENDA KOWALSKE
Funny thing is, as soon as Richard started talking, I felt the peace continue to flood my soul. God seemed to be saying that He had brought me to this point in my life… ‘hitting bottom,’ so I would be ready to give up what I thought was so important, to follow Him. Suddenly, it was all clear. I had spent the last 5 years trying to do all the right things. I stayed exhausted all the time, and never felt fulfilled despite all the “work” I was doing. God was giving me the chance to restore my peace. I knew what had been missing in my life. As our pastor told me once, “When a Christian loses their joy and peace, it may be because they’re doing the wrong thing in the right place, or the right thing in the wrong place.” It was amazing that God put all the pieces into place so that Richard and I felt the calling at the exact same time. What an awesome God we serve.
DR. RICHARD KOWALSKE
Before we left Bolivia, we had made the commitment to sell everything and follow Jesus. Our first work was to be the ministry in Bolivia- to build missionary housing, to help establish a permanent camp facility to reach the youth of Bolivia for Jesus Christ, and to establish our medical ministry as an avenue to bring people to know the saving grace of Jesus Christ. We knew God would lead us where He wanted us. Our part would be to step out in faith. Helping Hands Foreign Missions was formed to support this ministry. With outstretched hands, we want to go into all the world, using our skills to help Christian missionaries in any country where we are needed. There are Christian missionaries all over the world, who give their all for the Lord. We want to be missionaries to the missionaries, simply going where God leads, to support the ministries that are in need.
Our Mission Statement
To share the love of God in practical ways-through provision of food, clean water, shelter, and medical care; education; church plants; and construction projects. We facilitate opportunities for all to serve, helping to discover and utilize our God-given gifts and talents as we take the gospel of Jesus Christ to all people.
Village of Eden
View the Village of Eden Book Click Here
God is moving in a mighty way in Uganda; the people’s hearts are open and “the fields are ripe for the harvest.” God has given Helping Hands a vision for the country of Uganda, a God-sized vision which can only be accomplished through His power! We want to build a “model” Christian village, which will be a lighthouse for the country of Uganda, and a place which will represent what the body of Christ should look like-everyone working together for the glory of God. It will be called “The Village of Eden.”
A GOD SIZED VISION
Our vision is a 500-acre complex, a Village/community that has God and the Church at the helm of leadership. The focus will be on the orphans, widows, and the poor, giving them the opportunity for a Christian education and a better life through Jesus Christ.
This project will take many of God’s children working together to accomplish God’s work and be fruitful. God uses people to accomplish His work, so please work to get others involved in this God- sized project. Be on the front lines and make a difference!
PROJECTS ON THE COMPLEX
HOUSING FOR 2000 ORPHANS
We plan to have 10 children per home with one house mom. Currently most huts are made with mud walls, dirt floors, and thatched roof. We would eventually have 250 homes consisting of brick walls, cement floor, with tin roof.
The individual homes will not have a bathroom; rather we will build central bath houses-one bath house for every 10 homes
Sports programs and fields are part of the vision; we will have soccer, basketball, volleyball and other sports, which will give the children a chance not only to learn how to play the games but how to interact with others during the process.
Sports have always been a great avenue for evangelism as well. We will have sports camps with evangelism as the true focus for these events, bringing in mission teams to help cultivate relationships between The Village of Eden and groups outside the country. This will also help promote sports programs with other schools and groups around the community.
The Village will have Nursery School to High School, which will provide not only education of the children, but will be a way to monitor the students from a medical standpoint. This will be a way to help the community in a tangible way while serving as outreach showing the love of Jesus in a practical way.
Vocational school – The school will encompass several programs, including farming (animals and crops), baking (commercial), sewing, cosmetology, auto mechanics, woodworking (crafts), carpentry (building), cabinets/furniture, and metal/welding shops. Training in these targeted areas will help the senior children learn a trade and to produce items so that the complex can be self-sustaining.
Bible College – The complex will have a Bible college to train and educate current pastors and future pastors, drawing from the association of 80 churches that we now work with in Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania.
KITCHEN/DINING HALL/REC CENTER
Our plans are a multi-functional building, which will serve as kitchen and dining area, and can be used for meetings, assemblies, and for indoor sports and games. If necessary, we can also have children sleep here on a temporary basis. We anticipate an approximately 10,000 square foot building (kitchen and rec center combo) to accommodate feeding of the children (in shifts.)
The clinic will be staffed by a local nurse or health care provider, who will provide acute medical care for the children and staff. Our goal is to provide care for the orphans and staff at the complex; and establish an inventory of medications and medical supplies that can also be shared with the district Doctor in charge of the area. This will promote good will and help the community with much needed medical supplies. As opportunities arise, medical teams will also come in to assist the local Doctors and provide free medical clinics.
The Village will have a satellite system which will provide internet access. This will allow for video conference classes from the United States and other countries for the various schools on site. Although we plan to have in-house teachers, the video conferences will be a great blessing for the Bible College. The Media Center will also be one of the vocational training centers, with computer/media classes along with the technical training to operate such a center.
VILLAGE OF EDEN CHURCH
The “Village of Eden Church” will be the center of all activities and functions for the complex-the driving force in the community and the center for personal development. The Church will take care of the orphans, widows, sick and the poor, and will teach the community about God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit.
FREE MARKET TRADE
Free market trade will be one of the concepts taught at the schools. In conjunction with this, we will have a “Village of Eden Market Place” that will be on the outskirts of our property to allow the orphans to sell the items that are produced within the complex. This will include shops such as bakery, butcher, handmade clothes, crafts, candies, hairstyling, metal works, wood furniture and others.
Our goal is to witness to the community while at the same time, providing a practical way for people to support themselves, through the sale of various products that are produced on-site, such as vegetables, beef/chicken, crafts, and other items that the vocational schools have to offer. The village shops will help support the complex and develop a free market concept for the village.
In order for the complex to be self-sustaining, we will grow various crops; raise cattle, sheep, goats, and chickens; and also have a fish farm. This will also provide a way for the children to learn a trade and be self-sufficient once they leave the complex.
We know that the “Village of Eden” vision is an extremely large undertaking. It is a “God sized” project and that is why we know that only God can do it. But we also know that God uses His people to accomplish his work. So the question is, “Are you one of those people, and will you help?” This is an exciting time to be involved in the ground floor of a project that will change thousands of lives, with God at the center of it all.
We invite you to be a part of this innovative adventure which will reach across cultural, language, financial, and social barriers to impact the world for Christ.
HOW CAN YOU HELP?
Make a general financial donation to help build “The Village of Eden”.
Make a donation toward a specific project at the complex, such as equipment, sports fields, orphan housing, cafeteria/rec center, “Church” headquarters, or any of the many projects.
Donate construction supplies and equipment; we will be gathering supplies to ship in 40’ containers. A list will be supplied on request.
Be a volunteer to help-short time, long-term, or “any-term!”
We encourage you to prayerfully consider being a part of “The Village of Eden”. For additional information, please feel free to contact us by email at VOE@helpinghandsmissions.org, or by phone: Joel Cobb at 678-525-4228 or Stan Bell at 770-560-4555