My 27th Birthday & Houses of Hope

Wow! I cannot believe that I am already 27 years old. The last 26 years have passed by so quickly. Adulthood has been such a journey of discovering what God has called me to do. Calling is a funny thing. So many of us, as Christians, think we need a specific call like a dream or hearing God’s audible voice. And while God does sometimes work that way, we often forget that if we are a Christian that God has already given us specific calls that we can start following. One that God so often reminds me of comes from James 1:27 “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means airing for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.” It is very clear that we don’t have to wait around for a specific call, but that caring for the orphans and widows are our responsibility if we are following Jesus.

But what does that mean for me? What does that mean for us? I have often found myself feeling (as I’m sure many other people do)  frustrated and overwhelmed with all the needs and not really sure where to begin. Over the last year, specifically, God has been teaching me to be more present and with that, opening my eyes to opportunities that he puts right in front of me. In November Phil and I found out that an orphanage that he helped to start, Houses of Hope, was running out of water and in dire need of funds to dig deeper wells. I felt such a burden for those kids, whose pictures had become so familiar to me. And I knew quite quickly that God placed them on my heart for a reason so I decided to do a birthday fundraiser to work towards getting the rest of the funds needed for the well. Sometimes all it takes is being open to the opportunities that God puts right in front of you. And since I haven’t personally been to Houses of Hope yet, I wanted to hear and share Phil’s experience (italicized) and why it means so much to us.

My experience with Houses of Hope and African Leadership Development began back when I was in my early teens. Dr. Bill Rapier, the president of ALD, moved into my neighborhood and my family quickly became friends with him and his family. This was when I was introduced to the work he was doing in South Africa and Zimbabwe.

I was able to get involved with ALD by helping Bill collect items such as building materials, books, and computers to send in 40 ft containers over to help with the development of an orphanage in South Africa and as well as the development of people of all ages to help them gain computer skills and knowledge.

When I was 16 I finally got the opportunity to go over to Africa with a friend and with Bill to help with beginning construction on a new orphanage, to be located in Whunga, Zimbabwe. It was an amazing experience getting to go to a place where there was so much joy despite how little they had. There was no running water, no plumbing, no electricity and it really opened my eyes to the world outside what I had grown up in. We started the building of an orphan home and a church that would be supporting the orphanage.

Since then I have been able to travel back two times, although the middle trip I ended up sick on the flight over so I wasn’t able to make the trip to the orphanage, but the third time was in January of 2017 when I went with three of my siblings and one of my good friends. On this trip we helped with expanding the living space for the orphanage as well as a covered eating area for the kids. During this time I was really impacted as I saw these kids live their daily lives, be loved by the pastor who runs the orphanage and love on each other and us. It truly gave me an appreciation for what I have and for what it truly means to be joyful and thankful in any circumstance.

I know that for Phil and myself, and probably everyone else reading this, the concept of running out of water is completely foreign to us. Even if our water is shut off or if a pipe bursts, we can easily go to the store or someone’s house for drinking water, to do laundry or dishes, or to take a shower. But for the kids at Houses of Hope this is the reality that they are currently facing. And it breaks my heart to know that, through no fault of their own, they don’t have parents or family that can care for them and advocate for their needs, as Phil and I will for our own daughter. I feel privileged to have the opportunity to help provide for and advocate for these kiddos and their basic needs. It might seem funny to you that this is what I choose to write about for my birthday; but Phil would tell you, that for me, it’s really normal. This is so much of our life and I wanted to share a little piece of my heart with you today ❤

The kids at Houses of Hope would be so blessed by your prayers. And if you would like to partner with Phil and I in helping to get the rest of the funds need to complete the well projected; we would be grateful and honored to have you be a part of what God is doing in the lives of the orphans at Houses of Hope, Zimbabwe. Whether it is $5 or $10 or a much larger amount, it will come together to have a huge impact on them! I have included the facebook link to our fundraiser, but if you do not have facebook and still would like to participate, please reach out-I have both Venmo and paypal as well.

Houses of Hope Well Fundraiser


With Love,

Lauren Ashley