We are continuing our mini-series reproducing articles about Christian House Sitters that have appeared in the press around the world. This week we feature another article from America.
Ray White was born in South Africa. His wife, Marilyn, moved to South Africa from England at eleven months of age.
They now live in England but they have seen the needs of the people in this region, and their heart is to help Christian work in Africa. .
Their organization, Christian House Sitters enables them to support a children’s home in Kenya with proceeds going towards this charity.
Faith Filled Family: How did you come up with the idea for Christian House Sitters?
Ray: When we retired, we had very little money as it had all gone into the work of the Christian Counselling Ministry so in order to be able to have a good vacation we needed to find an alternative to paying full price. We heard about a Secular House Sitting organization and registered and ended up in a house in France for 3 months. It was a wonderful experience but we found it a bit lonely as we knew nobody and could not find a church. Also the home owners who were not Christians left some statues and things around the house that made us feel uncomfortable. Marilyn said that the next time we should use a Christian organization so we searched and could not find one anywhere. Marilyn therefore suggested we start one which we did and the result is Christian House Sitters.
Faith Filled Family: It is my understanding that you two started this ministry on your own. Would you please explain what the CHS does?
Ray: We seek to help home owners and house sitters find each other. People can register as a Sitter, an Owner or as both. If you register as a home owner we help you to find a house sitter to move into your home while you are away on vacation. They will look after your home and pets for you free of charge and in return they receive a rent free vacation in your home. So as an owner you save money by not having to pay anyone to look after your home and pets. You also have the security of knowing that your home and pets are being looked after by a responsible Christian.
If you register as a house sitter you get to travel and stay rent-free in lovely homes all over the world rather than in expensive and often characterless hotel rooms.
How does this work in practice? When you register as an owner we list your house details (without the specific address) on the restricted section of our website that can only be viewed by registered sitters.
We also email all registered sitters drawing their attention to the listing.
Sitters then decide which houses they are interested in and click an enquiry button. That automatically sends the owners their details and their profile info. Then it is over to the owner to make contact and decide which application they like best, check references and arrange the sit.
Faith Filled Family: How can someone sign up for either being as an owner or sitter?
Ray: It is really very easy. All they need to do is visit our website www.Christian-housesitters.com and click on the link to register. They will be asked for their name, the name of their church and minister and for some information about themselves. As long as they are members of a recognized Christian Church we will accept them as members. We also write to the named minister informing him or her that these members of the church have joined CHS.
Faith Filled Family: Can I be an owner and a sitter? What about paying, if I am both would I still pay the sitter fee?
Ray: You can register as a sitter, as an owner or as both. Registration as an owner is FREE. Registration as a Sitter is £25 per year.
Faith Filled Family: How does a sitter gain access to the houses available and the timetables?
Ray: When a sitter registers they select a password. This enables them to login to the members section of the website and see details of all available houses. From here they can also notify home owners of their interest in a house. Also whenever any new house is listed with us we send an email to all registered sitters giving them the details and reminding them that if they are interested they should login and contact the owner.
Faith Filled Family: What advice do you provide for both parties?
Ray: On the website we have a number of sections to help people. These include:
Tell Your Sitter, Advice to Sitters, Suggested Agreement and also more general info under “House Sitting Explained” and under FAQ
Faith Filled Family: How many countries has your ministry been extended into?
Ray: At the moment we have active members in Canada, USA, Argentina, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Portugal, Spain, France, Holland, Germany, Italy, England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales
We are also looking into expanding into other areas as well.
Faith Filled Family: I would think this is a fluid ministry in that owners and sitters are changing. Is this true?
Ray: Yes and no. Many owners remain with us and use our service every time they have a vacation.
There is no limit on how often they can ask for a sitter. We also have many sitters who renew their membership every year. But naturally there are some owners and sitters who do not remain with us and there are also always new people joining.
Faith Filled Family: I understand that the benefits from the sitters’ fee go towards a particular charity. Where does it go?
Ray: 100% of this money goes to support homeless children at a Christian Children’s Home in Kenya.
The cost of running the site is covered by us so all income goes to these needy children. You can read more about the children’s home at www.christian-housesitters.com/kenya.htm
Faith Filled Family: Please explain how and why you chose your beneficiary?
Ray: When we first started we decided that we wanted to support Christian work in Africa because of our personal experience there. Initially this money went to a Christian Organization in South Africa.
Meanwhile our church had been helping a Children’s Home in Kenya. For various reasons the church could no longer afford to continue this financial support and after much prayer we decided to take it on as our project. The work had not been run very efficiently in Kenya so Marilyn, who is experienced in business management, set up a strong accountability structure with herself as the leader. She appointed local Christians to run the home on a day-to-day basis under a local leadership team.
But all major decisions need to be approved by her and she also makes certain that the money is properly accounted for and used wisely. She has had contact with local officials and the home has been inspected by both the area Chief and the District Commissioner who expressed their delight in how well it is being run.
Faith Filled Family: The Home of Peace Children’s Home in Kenya; how many children are cared for at the home?
Ray: This varies slightly but we normally have between 80 and 85 children who would otherwise be living on the streets, begging or stealing to stay alive. We provide them with accommodation, food, clothing, medical care and pay for their schooling. This is all done in a strong Christian atmosphere. As a result we are seeing lives transformed.
Faith Filled Family: You have explained that Home of Peace Children’s Home in Kenya Is supported by the CHS. Does the ministry cover all expenses?
Ray: At this stage we are their only financial support. Over the past 12 months we have built them 2 toilet blocks (before this they had to use a field which we felt was not satisfactory), we have built a nursery room for the younger children, and we have got additional beds for the children. They now all have bedding and mosquito nets and we have been able to keep them in food, medicine and clothing. It is often really difficult and each time we send out money it is an adventure in faith asking God to supply but He has never failed. If we had additional funds we would love to improve the facilities, build some more dormitories, turn our temporary kitchen into a real kitchen, etc.
Faith Filled Family: If someone desires to donate to the Children’s Home, how would they go about doing so?
Ray: They can do that from our site by clicking the donate button or by sponsoring a child. Full details are at www.TLC-childrenstrust.org
NOTE FROM RAY. Some information in the article about the children’s home is now naturally out of date but the current information can be found at www.tlc-childrenstrust.org/update.htm
God bless you,
We are part of the registered charity
TLC Children’s Trust
UK Charity number 1156786
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