Following Their Hearts
Ken and Nita Surritte from Edmond decided to do something for the children of the world. It began when Nita went on a mission trip to China. “The purpose was to observe schools and teach. They didn’t need my help so I visited an orphanage,” she said. “It was a life-changing experience when I saw those babies. I got on the plane to go home and decided I must do something for the children.”
“She was a different person when she got home,” Ken said. “God touched her heart.”
Nita planned to go back again but broke her foot. Ken went in her place and discovered God also leading him to work with Chinese orphanages. That was in 2002. Ken came back and started doing research and discovered great needs.
One-half of the world population, or roughly 4 billion people, are under 15 years old. Two-thirds are children at risk, he said. For example, an estimated 10 million children are victims of the sex industry, 100-140 million children are street children, 250 million children between the ages of 5 and 14 work, while 73 million of them are less than 10 years old, and 8.4 million children are trapped in slavery.
“We didn’t have an option. It started snowballing from there,” Ken said. “I wasn’t prepared for how God opened doors. I felt like God said, ‘If you’ll get their hands involved, I’ll get their hearts involved’; hence the name, Hearts and Hands International.”
Ken and Nita Surritte gave up retirement and many of the comforts of Edmond to minister to children overseas. Married since 1975, Ken had been an associate pastor at Henderson Hills Baptist Church for 17 1/2 years. He resigned his job in 2004 to work full-time with Hearts and Hands.
Since the couple started the charitable organization four years ago, it has expanded to include 14 orphanages involving more than 1,500 children. Nine orphanages in China are located in the Guangdon, Yunnam and Hebel provinces. Groundbreaking for a second home in India just occurred for children rescued from child labor camps and areas devastated by the tsunami. Two homes for orphans are in Africa. One is in Kenya and the other in Democratic Republic of Congo where children are driven from war-torn Rwanda. In Brazil they have a home for 50 unadoptable, orphaned girls.
Nita spends most of her time in Edmond, although the most difficult part of her ministry is leaving the many babies overseas. “My title is ‘baby holder.’ I try to hold every baby there and pray over them,” she said. “My greatest joy is sitting on the orphanage floor with babies crawling all over me.”
The Surrittes have two daughters of their own. Their oldest, Kendra, attends medical school at Kansas University and the youngest, Kelsey, is a senior at Memorial High School. The girls spent last summer working in two orphanages in China. “It was priceless to watch my daughters holding the babies,” Nita said.
“You have to roll up your sleeves and get involved. We can’t make a difference to a billion children but we can make a difference in one life at a time,” Nita said.
For instance, in China, Nita met Sunshine, a 4-year-old one-legged little girl. “If the trip was for that one child, that’s OK,” she said. Volunteers have offered a prosthesis, and a couple plans to adopt her soon.
“Look at the needs around the world and take responsibility,” Ken said. “God has blessed our nation. Six percent of world’s population are Americans but we own over 50 percent of the world’s resources. If we don’t help, who will?” Ken also quoted 1 John 3:17: “If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?” (NIV)
“We get to see God show up and do the impossible. It’s neat to see how he brings resources and opportunities,” Ken said. “We’ve built great relationships in the U.S. and in many other countries.
“Some places in China have just recently opened up to Christianity. Bibles are being made in a few cities where people can buy their own. Some cities even allow public worship,” he added. “We have favor with China right now. I believe opportunities are opening up because godly men and women are praying. “God gives all of us dreams. Take time to explore yours. Pray. Give. Go. That’s how it happens.
“We need people to help with every function of running an orphanage, including building them. Electricians, plumbers, doctors, dentists, nurses, general contractors, nursery attendants, people to teach English, and so much more. We need your help now in countries around the world.
“If you want to volunteer your time, resources, or skills to help the children of Hearts and Hands International, then we have a place for you.”
For more information, go online to www.hhii.org.
Source of Statistics are United Nations Children’s Fund, United Nations, Human Rights Watch and International Labor Organization.