Kathie Burgess ʼ11
Posted on: May 24, 2022
Master of Christian Ministry
Occupation: Retired Respiratory Therapist
The oldest of five children and born into an abusive family, Kathie Burgess said she had a lot of reasons to lose hope.
“My father was a raging alcoholic,” she said. “He was very abusive. I ended up in the hospital a lot of times with him. He abandoned the family when I was five years old.”
Separated from her siblings at a young age, Burgess said her living situation only worsened.
“We were put into orphanages and foster homes that were very abusive. I almost died in one,” she said.
“The Lord was so faithful during that time. He was so close to me. He comforted me and saved my life. There were so many times that I would just be on my knees, begging the Lord to help me and save me. And he was faithful. He always provided, and that’s where I put my hope and trust.”
Through the Lord’s provision, Burgess escaped the abuse and found success through a career in respiratory therapy. Still, she felt like the Lord was calling her to something more.
“I felt like the Lord was leading me to go there to learn more about the Bible,” Burgess said. “I had made my own plans. I had been a respiratory therapist and was planning to study to be a nurse when the Lord said that’s not what he wanted me to do. He wanted me to go to North Greenville.”
During her studies, Burgess saw that she had made the right decision.
“At first, it was a little awkward,” she said. “Everyone was either a pastor or studying to be a pastor, and here I was as a respiratory therapist. But the people were just wonderful and accepted me anyway. I remember having a conversation with Richard Blackaby, and he told me that if the Lord called me, he had a plan for me. He was right.”
While attending North Greenville, Burgess connected with Dr. Larry McDonald, who was leading mission trips to Uganda.
“I had been on mission trips to Africa several times, but when I went to Uganda, I saw so many needs,” she said. “They have so many orphans. You could see where there was some evidence that the children had been brutalized. I was so touched by this that I decided I needed to do something.”
She began to address the needs she saw, starting Hands of Kindness Children’s Ministry, a non-profit organization that seeks to be a witness of God’s love to orphans and vulnerable children in Uganda by providing for their basic physical, medical, educational, and spiritual needs.
“We started a child-sponsorship program, which provides food and clothing. When I first went there, those children were in rags and all they had was what was on their backs. It was extreme poverty,” Burgess said. “Getting sponsors made sure that they were able to have food every day and proper clothing.”
Hands of Kindness also raised money for a place for the children to live and receive medical care.
“We started fundraising and built a dormitory for the children to stay in,” Burgess said. “That gave them a place to live and a playground to play on. On one of our mission trips, one of the doctors told me that the only time the children were receiving medical care was when we came. We started fundraising and trusted that the Lord would provide for this too. Sure enough, we were able to raise the money we needed to build the medical clinic.”
The non-profit has continued its work in impoverished areas of Africa, and Burgess is encouraging local churches to get involved and make an impact.
“We invite people from other churches to go because it’s a life-changing experience,” she said. “The Lord told me to be consumed with serving others, and that’s what I’m doing. My life is now about serving those that are less fortunate.”