The story of Open Arms International begins in 2002 when David and Rachel Gallagher led a mission trip to Eldoret, Kenya. At the time, Rachel worked as a pediatric intensive care nurse, and had previously served on the front lines of third world poverty with Mother Teresa in Calcutta, India. David was working on coordinating large outreach festivals for the Luis Palau Association.
While preparing for their first joint medical/ministry trip, the Gallagher's assembled a team of medical professionals, children's workers, pastors, and volunteers.
What happened over the next several weeks was nothing short of amazing!
- The team of 17 treated more than 400 orphaned children who had malaria, typhoid, upper respiratory infections, ringworm, and other diseases.
- From generous donors, their team received enough supplies to support the medical clinic and leave behind supplies to last the local doctor an entire year!
- In just five (5) days, their team visited ten schools and over 500 children experienced the love of Jesus!
- More than 5,000 people attended the outdoor festival each night. Nearly 600 people received Jesus during the event and more than 3,900 received Jesus Christ during the two weeks following the outreach!
Touched by the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of the children in Kenya and motivated by their own convictions that these children could move mountains if given the chance, David and Rachel began to wonder...
"What if there was a way to raise orphaned children in third world countries, to reach their full potential, so that they might become future leaders in government, business, medicine, and ministry - and ultimately change their countries?
A vision began to form. They developed an idea to create a secure and productive 'Village Communities' where children - orphaned by AIDS, disease, and other tragic circumstances - would be given an opportunity to reach their full potential, encouraged to pursue their dreams, and trained to make those dreams a reality. These villages would raise up a new generation of leaders, equipped to confront the difficult issues facing their people and effect lasting change within their countries. The first Village would be in Eldoret, Kenya. One year later, in partnership with their friends in England - Dr. John and Rosemary Lancaster - David and Rachel co-founded Open Arms International.