BELTON — In August 1982, Dan Kirkley decided to go to Haiti for his first mission trip. He and his wife, Kandi Kirkley, boarded a plane with the taste of steamed rice in their mouths and the desire to spread the love of Christ in their hearts.
Their mission: to help with the care of eight orphaned children who did not have a stable place to live.
The trip turned out to be a springboard for the Kirkleys’ ministry, Hope for the Hungry, a nonprofit organization that establishes and supports orphanages in Haiti and India.
In 1982, Kirkley was a graduate of North Texas University, happily married with two children and worked for Xerox. On his first mission trip to Haiti, Kirkley helped remodel an old building to provide a home for the orphans.
Upon returning to the United States, “God got hold of” the couple and they both quit their jobs. Kirkley said that was a “big and scary step,” but they had faith, and God provided for all of their needs.
“God makes so many promises in his words,” he said. “God was so faithful.”
Hope for the Hungry was established on Dec. 13, 1982, as a nonprofit organization, which the Kirkleys operated from their home. They continued to make trips to Haiti two or three times a year and committed to providing $200 a month to the eight orphaned children.
Today, Hope for the Hungry of Belton supports two orphanages in Haiti — one for 34 boys and another for 30 girls — and four schools. They also started two orphanages and two schools in India and sponsor 31 missionary families in 17 countries and 14 organizations.
“We help change lives both financially and spiritually. … It is very important that we give life by giving physical assistance to people in need,” Kirkley said, adding that God assigns tasks to everyone. “We have to make the choice to walk in obedience or not, and this is my divine appointment.”
For more information about Hope for the Hungry, go to www.hopeforthehungry.org.