A Life Lived Beautifully: Amy Washington

My heart rejoices today writing this post! For months we have been praying about a ministry Life Lived Beautifully can support. Through a series of incredible circumstances and connections, the Lord led us to Kupendwa Ministries. The director of Kupendwa, Amy Washington, is from Georgia and attended the University of Georgia at the same time Whitney and I attended UGA. After college, she traveled to Uganda and the Lord captivated her heart there. Amy moved to Uganda full-time in July 2010 to work with children in desperate need. Since then, Amy has adopted seven children and continues to run Kupendwa. The mission statement of the maternity home at Kupendwa is "saving lives - two at a time." It is our joy to be able to support this gospel-centered ministry! We created the new "Give Them Jesus" coffee mug specifically to remind us that life isn't just about receiving Jesus, it is about going to the ends of the earth to give Jesus to those who have not heard the good news of the gospel. It is our prayer that through supporting Kupendwa, many more lives will be saved both physically and spiritually. Get ready to be inspired, encouraged, and challenged! 

Amy with one of her foster granddaughters, Bethany.

Amy with one of her foster granddaughters, Bethany.

Meet Amy, founder of Kupendwa Ministries.

Introduce yourself like we are having a cup of coffee together. smile emoticon What kind of coffee/tea would you drink?

Since I have never liked coffee, God was extremely gracious and kind to bring me to a tea-drinking country! My favorite drink here (and by default in the States!) is what I would describe as a spiced chai latte, perhaps?! Lots of milk with strong ginger, masala, and other spices. If you visited me one day, this is what I would serve you! 

I’m Amy Washington, a 28-year-old single, working, adoptive, and homeschooling mother of 7 children ages 7, 6, 5, 4, and 3 years old (three 5 year olds!). I am also the foster mom to 27 teenage mothers and the foster grandmother to their babies & children. In addition, I am the executive director of Kupendwa Ministries and oversee all of our ministry projects in Uganda, Africa. 

What is your definition of a "life lived beautifully"?

As I continue to walk this road of life with my Savior, He is constantly bringing me back to the core truths and commandments of our journey with Him and what it should be: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength…and love your neighbor as yourself.” 

For me, a life lived beautifully is a life lived in love with Jesus. Loving Him with everything that we are and everything that we have; then loving others with that same reckless abandon that He demonstrates toward us. It means loving Jesus and loving others for Jesus; living a life poured out in love and surrender to Him. I have found that nothing else in the world brings as much love, peace, joy, and complete wholeness and satisfaction in Christ than when I love Him completely and allow Him to love others compassionately through me. Being the extension of His hands and feet in a lost and dying world is one of our greatest privileges as believers. 

When did you start following Jesus?

I was raised in a Christian home as the eldest of five children where I was homeschooled and brought up working on the family farm. I asked Jesus to save me from my sins and come live inside my heart when I was only 5 years old. I was a very bright child and understood much at a young age, but my faith wasn't seriously tested until I was 12. I then rededicated my life to Him and was baptized shortly thereafter. My faith continued to grow as I sought Him more and more while walking with Him through the peaks and valleys of life. 

Amy with a village gentleman whose mud house was repaired by Kupendwa.

Amy with a village gentleman whose mud house was repaired by Kupendwa.

What are some verses you constantly cling to and bring life to your soul?

  • Galatians 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." 
  • Philippians 1:21 “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” 
  • Lamentations 3:22-26 "Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I hope in Him!” The Lord is good to this who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him. It is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.”
  • Psalm 121: "I will lift up my eyes to the hills—from whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper; The Lord is your shade at your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul. The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in from this time forth, and even forevermore."

How did God direct you to start Kupendwa?

In the summer of 2009, after graduating from the University of Georgia, I finally fulfilled my dream of traveling to Africa. I volunteered at a children’s and baby’s home in Uganda for the summer. While volunteering that summer, I seriously fell in love with the orphaned, malnourished and dying babies of Uganda and began to sense God’s call to do more for the “least of these.” 

I volunteered as co-director of the baby home and moved to Uganda in July of 2010. In the fall of 2010, after beginning the adoption process of a little girl in Uganda, I began to strongly feel God’s call to help the expectant teenage mothers with crisis pregnancies. Because of my previous work with orphaned babies and children, I knew first hand the great need that these mothers and babies have for food, protection, guidance, love, and most of all Jesus Christ. The expectant teenage girls in Uganda are desperate for help. For many mothers and women in Uganda, childbirth often means death. I saw many malnourished & dying babies during my time in Uganda and heard over and over again, “the mother died during childbirth.”

Upon returning to Uganda in 2011 to finalize the adoption of my daughter, I witnessed a traumatic birth and death of a baby in a local hospital. I then knew that God was calling me to love, help, and minister to expectant mothers and their babies. In the summer of 2011, I founded Kupendwa Ministries, a non-profit organization.  Kupendwa Ministries exists to share Jesus Christ and His love with mothers, babies, children, and families in need through a variety of Maternity, Infant, and Child healthcare services. 

A group shot - Amy, Amy's sister (Deanna), Betty, Amy's children, and the Maternity Home foster teen moms and their babies

A group shot - Amy, Amy's sister (Deanna), Betty, Amy's children, and the Maternity Home foster teen moms and their babies

What is the vision behind Kupendwa Ministries?

Kupendwa's motto is "Saving Lives…Two at a Time. Both Mother and Baby, Physically and Eternally.” Our purpose and vision is to share the gospel of Jesus by following His own example that He showed us during His earthly ministry. So many times in the Gospels, we see that Jesus met the lost, needy, and poor right in their time of physical need. He then used His physical healing - saving physical lives - in order to share the gospel about the more important spiritual and eternal healing & salvation that we need so much more desperately. This model is the one that Kupendwa daily follows in working with the poverty-stricken and desperately needy mothers, babies, and children in Uganda, Africa. By reaching mothers, babies, children, and families in their most desperate moments of life, God opens doors to share the saving gospel of Jesus Christ and the reason behind everything that we do. 

The word “Kupendwa” means “to be loved” in Swahili. Kupendwa is a ministry that people can come to and find that they will be loved: Loved by Jesus through us, His servants. 

How do you integrate sharing the Gospel with your everyday ministry in Africa?

Kupendwa's vision and how we share the gospel truly go hand in hand, as sharing the gospel, and saving spiritual as well as physical lives is our vision and purpose.

Kupendwa is saving the lives of mothers & babies, in addition to spreading the gospel, through a variety of Maternal, Infant & Child Health services. Kupendwa is able to penetrate into Muslim communities, slums & unreached villages, as well as reach the government & local leaders through its vital health services that are saving the lives of women & their children. By reaching women & mothers with the gospel, Kupendwa in turn is also reaching the children, husbands, and families and entire communities. 

We know that the only source of true peace, comfort, hope, and reassurance is in Jesus Christ. We desire to share this Good News with each and every mother & child that God brings into our program as we reach out to meet immediate physical needs.  

Amy with Betty, her Ugandan best friend who is also Kupendwa's assistant director

Amy with Betty, her Ugandan best friend who is also Kupendwa's assistant director

For many mothers and women in Uganda, childbirth too often means death – death for the mother, child, or both, especially in third world countries like Uganda where the maternal and infant mortality rates are so high.  Many expectant women and young girls live in rural villages or slum areas where there is very little, if any, access to medical care, birthing supplies or sanitary birthing conditions. Pregnancy is a frightening time for many Ugandan women and it is during this time that many reach out for help. They are searching for peace, comfort, hope and reassurance. My passion and Kupendwa’s motto: “Saving Lives…Two At A Time” is two-fold: Our goal is to Save Lives two at a time both PHYSICALLY (mother & baby) and ETERNALLY.

When did you feel called to missions? 

I will tell you first and foremost that growing up, I never wanted to live overseas, never wanted to be a missionary, never wanted to live more than 5 minutes from my parents home! I even lived at home and commuted during my college years! But in the summer of 2009 after graduating from the University of Georgia, I travelled to Jinja, Uganda and worked for 6 weeks with malnourished & orphaned babies that would touch my heart and change my life forever.  After returning to the States, God began speaking to my heart and calling me to full time ministry in Uganda. I had seen the need; I knew God wanted me to help. I could not continue living life as I had been before.  I knew God was calling me to live a life poured out for others on the other side of the world. I went back to Uganda again in January 2010 for 2 months, and then in July 2010, I finally moved to Uganda in 2011 to continue working with malnourished and dying babies. I had been to many different places and worked with many different people, but I never experienced such a deep love for a place and people before. Never had I so strongly felt God’s peace and call to leave my home and make a lifetime commitment somewhere. I had never felt so passionate about loving and helping a people before. The babies and children of Uganda truly stole my heart. 

When people donate financially to Kupendwa, what kind of projects and ministries does that money go on to support?

Kupendwa’s work encompasses a number of various ministry projects all in the Maternal, Infant, and Child healthcare sector. When giving to Kupendwa, you have the opportunity to give to the different areas of Kupendwa's ministry! 

1. Community Development & Support: Village Maternity Clinics & Workshops.

Kupendwa provides Maternal, Infant & Child Health services extensively in rural villages & slum areas where the maternal & infant mortality rates are extremely high. By providing numerous health services, prenatal and antenatal care & supplies, in addition to life-saving education for women & teenage girls, Kupendwa is saving lives. Kupendwa provides Birthing Kits, Prenatal & Antenatal Check-ups, Prenatal Vitamins, as well as gifts of basic needs like soap, rice, and flour to hundreds of these women. 

At these programs, our nurses & midwives lead Bible studies, in addition to teaching health lessons on countless health & motherhood topics such as safe birth techniques & procedures, basic midwifery skills & training, pregnancy education, labor & delivery, sanitation, hygiene, nutrition, PMTCT (Prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV during childbirth), HIV/AIDS education & prevention, abstinence, infant & preemie care, kangaroo care, breastfeeding, childcare & parenting, and many, many more.

2. Maternity Home for Teenage Girls with crisis pregnancies. 

Teenage pregnancy is one of the biggest killers of adolescent girls worldwide. These deaths occur due to pregnancy & childbirth complications, as well as unsafe abortions. So, in addition to community development & support, Kupendwa also meets the needs of teenage girls in crisis pregnancy situations through our Maternity Homes. Our Maternity Homes are residential homes that provide a loving family environment for these young teenage mothers who are typically between the ages of 12 to 18 who have been prostitutes, rape victims, abandoned, outcast, abused, homeless, or unwanted. 

They are taught & given education, life skills, counseling, mentoring, discipleship, encouragement, friendship, morals, value, self worth, vocational skills, and most importantly – they are taught and given the Love of Jesus Christ.

Our Maternity Home teaches, educates, and provides these precious girls in our Maternity Home with: 

  • Housing, Accommodation, Meals & Life Provisions
  • Medical & Health Care for themselves & their babies
  • Health & Medical Education
  • Academic Education, Private Tutoring, & Home schooling
  • Vocational Skills Classes & Training
  • Individual & Group Counseling
  • Biblical Guidance & Teaching
  • And much, much more

3. Survive to Thrive Program.

Kupendwa’s Survive to Thrive Program supports the extremely desperate mothers in the villages and communities we work in. Whether they are first time mothers, mothers of 8, or soon to be child-mothers, all of them can be at risk. Through our Survive to Thrive Program we hand pick the women who are in extreme need and provide them with: 

  • Monthly and bi-monthly Home Visits 
  • Counseling, Mentoring, and Discipleship 
  • Food care packages 
  • Birthing Kits & Supplies
  • Pre and Postnatal education, nutrition & vitamins
  • Labor & Delivery Assistance & Medical Care
  • And more

4. Hospital Ministry.

Kupendwa works closely with local government hospitals and clinics, particularly with Maternity, Labor & Delivery, and NICU wards. We provide vital medical supplies, food & water, beddings, mosquito nets, clothes, blankets, encouragement & support, and much more to severely needy or oftentimes dying mothers and infants. We also assist the mothers who have undergone cesarean operations and now have severely infected wounds due to poorly preformed surgeries. These women are often starving and unable to produce breast milk, so we help supply medical supplies & nutritious foods necessary for recovery & healing. Helping these women in the hospitals at such critical times in their life continually opens doors to share with them the Love of Jesus at a time when they need it most. 

To learn more about Kupendwa, our other projects, and what God is doing through our work in Uganda, PLEASE visit our website: www.Kupendwa.org! Our Facebook page also has many updated pictures and stories about what God is doing, so please also visit there if you are interested! www.facebook.com/Kupendwa

Amy with her seven adopted Ugandan children.

Amy with her seven adopted Ugandan children.

If you could tell every woman reading this blog one thing God has laid on your heart, what would it be? 

He will sometimes call us to the hard and impossible - don’t shy away. It is in the impossible when God can truly show His love and power to us. He delights in making the impossible possible through His sovereign love and power. Only when I have nothing, can He be my everything. In the darkest and most desperate moments of my life when I have felt alone and the world seemed to be caving in around me - it is in those moments when He has shone the brightest; His love has been the most tender; and He has performed the miracles that I believed impossible. He has resurrected babies I thought dead, He has given and taken away and given again. He has redeemed hearts and lives that I almost believed were too far gone. He has carried me and sustained me, He has redeemed and restored - He has truly been my everything. Let Him be your everything. He so desperately wants to be. Seek Him. He promises to draw near. He promises to be found. He is our perfect love. He is our perfect beautiful. He is our perfect Savior. He is our perfect Prince. If to live is Christ, then He IS our life lived beautifully!