Helping Hands Foreign Missions
In August 2002, Drs. Richard and Brenda Kowalske were in Cochabamba, Bolivia, participating in a short-term volunteer mission trip with their church. God interrupted their plans and called them to full-time ministry while simultaneously giving them a vision for the initial ministry project—a Christian Complex that would serve as the base of operations for Word of Life Bolivia. They returned home to Georgia and immediately began to learn Spanish and with the intention of moving to Bolivia. By early 2003, Helping Hands Foreign Missions was formed.
Although the word "visionary" might be slightly overused at times, it is the perfect description for Dr. Richard Kowalske. Dr. Richard (known as “Dr. K” to most) was truly a unique man—a chiropractor by trade, but a builder, developer, and fearless Christ-follower at heart. No task was too great and no work was too difficult if Dr. K felt God leading in that direction. Under his leadership and persistent spirit, Helping Hands bought sixty acres of land outside of Cochabamba, Bolivia, and built a beautiful Christian complex. Under his direction, Helping Hands then deeded the property to Word of Life Bolivia. This was Dr. K’s vision all along—to provide housing and a place to minister for the native missionaries serving through Word of Life International. Today, the property is being used as a Bible college, christian camp, Christian retreat center, and it houses more than 37 Word of Life missionaries. Since its inception in 2005, more than 12,000 people have accepted Christ as a result of the on-going ministry.
Uganda was another country where the Kowalskes ministered with their church. As the project in Bolivia started to come together, Drs. Richard and Brenda began taking volunteer teams to Uganda. The two countries—though very different and very far apart—were clearly the focal points of God’s direction for Helping Hands. The Village of Eden is the current project in Uganda.
After working in Uganda for several years, God showed Dr. K a vision for a children’s village located in the bush country. This village was to be a refuge for the most vulnerable children in the region—a place where they could live and learn in safety, as part of a family. Drs. Richard and Brenda began sharing the vision for the “Village of Eden” in 2008. The goal was to buy a large parcel of land and start the development as God supplied the funds.
Dr. Richard’s story is similar in some ways to that of Moses. God showed Moses the Promised Land all the while knowing he would never set foot there. Helping Hands was devastated in August 2010 when Dr. Richard suddenly passed away, but God is faithful and has enabled the ministry to continue to grow and conduct effective ministry under the leadership and godly example of Dr. Brenda Kowalske. Dr. Richard gave his life 100% to the cause of Christ. Even in his last few days on earth, he was constructing a storage facility for Helping Hands. God’s way and timing are sometimes a mystery to His followers; however, we are assured that God never makes a mistake and is never surprised by any event. His way and His timing are perfect. Today, Dr. K is in heaven, but his vision is a living, breathing reality in the bush village of Namuwombi, Uganda. Soon, 800 children and 100 widows will live there in safety and learn about the One True and Living God that Dr. Richard served right up to his last day on earth.
Dr. K is deeply missed by all of us at Helping Hands, especially his loving wife, Dr. Brenda. However, His legacy still lives on in Cochabamba, Bolivia; Nabuwombi, Uganda; and who knows how many countless other “Villages of Eden” around the world in the future.