Rachel Childress Travels to Africa

Aaron Austin | September 6, 2015

Post By Rachel Childress:

In September I am blessed to attend a Habitat for Humanity International Global Village trip to Malawi, Africa. We will spend time in the city of Lilongwe looking at community based solutions affecting housing, like water and sanitation. We will also travel to a more remote village in Salima to work on housing for children orphaned, primarily by AIDS/HIV. 

During my time at Lexington Habitat many folks have expressed how meaningful Global Village (GV) trips have been in their lives and encouraged me to go. Those trips have focused on “building” – actual construction. That part of our work has never been what connects my heart and commitment to this ministry and, therefore, I have not been particularly interested in GV trips. What does connect me to this ministry is that we can love our neighbors by working to fulfill the vision that everyone has a decent place live. I have been challenged, heartened and proud of how this affiliate has embraced a community based and holistic approach to decent housing. Indeed, I doubt I would have remained here if we had not taken that approach. I am grateful to be a part of it. 

When the voice and emails came through inviting me on this first trip of its kind and I saw the dates were the week after Julianna’s wedding in September, I thought, “I need to read the brochure before I call and tell her I can’t come.” As I read it, however, I felt tentacles reaching into my heart – orphaned children, those affected by AIDS/HIV and community based solutions for decent housing – the only thing missing was puppies. My thoughts changed from what I could not manage to a sure knowledge that this trip would change my life.

Malawi is neighbored by Zambia – home to Josephine, one of the international students with whom I worked while at Lexington Seminary. Josephine and I had a heart connection and have stayed in touch now for many years. She is tall, stately, thin, beautiful, from the other side of world and very dark skinned. I am at the other end of those spectrums. We shared a room at a conference in Louisville and stayed up way into the night laughing and giggling like a couple of middle schoolers. My time and friendship with her exemplified that, in spite of outward appearances, God made our souls from the same threads and wove them together. Josephine and I have walked down some parallel paths: death of loved ones, broken relationships, but we have loved and prayed for each other across the miles. At the end of the Habitat trip I will take a short 18 hour detour on the way home to visit with Josephine. She said to me in an e-mail, “Even one hour for me to see you is ok. Please do not pass me by my Pastor sister.” My heart longs to hug this woman I likely will never see again in this world.

In applying for funds to support the trip I had to articulate how the trip would affect my “personal and professional life”. . .  I believe I will gain a deeper understanding of what it really means to be in need of decent housing and the myriad of ways that can be achieved. I believe I will meet people native to Africa and from other affiliates who will broaden and encourage my thinking. I believe I will have the opportunity to share from my work and personal experience things which will be beneficial to others. I believe I will return physically fatigued and emotionally expanded. I intend to make this trip with my mind, hands and heart open to what God desires for my life. Ultimately, I do not know how I will be changed, just that I will.  

“Indeed, Habitat for Humanity builds houses. But . . . there is a lot more to what happens than house building. It’s making a house a home, a neighborhood a safe and beautiful community, building ‘bridges’ between people of other cultures and classes; it’s learning new skills, finding new ways to serve, acquiring new friends, and much, much more. It is dreams coming true for all involved – dreams that translate in making a stronger society, a better world.” – Millard and Linda Fuller

3 months


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On September 8, 2015, Joanie Childress said:

Rachel I am so proud of you and proud to know you! You have an awesome heart. Combine that with your intelligence makes an awesome person able to achieve great things on this earth and treasures in the World to come! I love you very much. Enjoy the trip and enjoy the journey.

On September 8, 2015, Tim Scott said:

Wow Rachel. Love every second. God undoubtedly has some amazing things ready for you. Rather than fatigued, I pray you return bubbling over. Looking forward to next time I see you.

On September 8, 2015, Gerard Howell said:

Can't wait to hear your story. Gerard

On September 9, 2015, Sally Brooks said:

Rachel, I am THRILLED for you!! God got it right when he called you! I will be praying for safe travel, as well as for mental and emotional fulfillment. Go with God, my sister.

On September 9, 2015, Mary Shearer said:


I had no idea you were making this trip. MY gosh, it sounds just wonderful and something right up my alley too! In the work of HFH, the least interesting to me is the construction aspect. I am 100% no good at it! I am terrible. But everything that leads up to that house, the raising of funds, the reporting, the helping of providing simple decent and affordable housing to someone who never in their lives expected such a gift is overwhelming! I applaud you and hope this trip is everything you want it to be and that yes, you are changed. I have no doubt you will be too. I can imagine after witnessing and living the experiences you will on this trip, that nothing, and I mean nothing will see too much to overcome. That your message will be even more direct, focused and from the heart.

Take care, stay well and I look forward to hearing all about it on your return.
Maybe you will come to Louisville on 9/28 and share your experiences with KY affiliates over lunch at our TRID workshop. They will need a great story!!! Let me know.

Mary Shearer

On September 10, 2015, David Wrede said:

Rachel, Have a safe trip. You will be in our thoughts. It sounds very challenging, but exciting. David Wrede

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