The North American entity is entitled Bethania Foundation but referred to as Bethania Kids. It was incorporated in Minnesota as Gene Hennig (of the founding family) lived and worked as an attorney in that state. Administrative offices are located in Winchester, Virginia. It is a registered 501(c)3 organization and member of ECFA (Evangelical Council of Financial Accountability). The primary function of the North America Board is to raise funds to financially support the ministry through residential homes, care centres, women’s programs and special needs schools. In addition, we liaise with our colleagues in India on strategy and plans, capital projects, financial needs and status of the ministry. Through trips to India, which are purpose-driven, we support, encourage, care and pray for staff, children and the operation of our ministries in India. The North American Board officers include the Chair, President, Treasurer, Secretary, and Vice President. At the staff level, the Director of Development is in charge of fund-raising and establishing and maintaining relationships with donors. Other staff manage donations, publications, notes of thanks, website, database of donor records, payroll and accounting. The position of Chair serves as the liaison between the BOD and BOT.
Board of Directors
- Minnetonka, MN
- Board member since: 2010
- I was married to Scott in 2005, and our son Simon was born in 2011. I work as an audiologist. When I’m not engaged in either home or work, I enjoy participating in my church small groups, children’s ministry, yoga, hiking, travel, social media, organizing photos, family dinners, and relaxing with a good book and warm coffee.
Bethania was first introduced to me when I was a child. My mother recruited my siblings and me to fold Bethania newsletters on our dining room table. As a sophomore in high school, I spent one semester studying at Kodaikanal International School. Fourteen years later, I was able to return to India and witness the growth of the Bethania Kids Ministries.
Of the transition to President, Kate writes:
With God’s help I look forward to an exciting, productive year in 2019. Our new Shalom Home is being designed and expected to move forward in the next few months. This would not be possible without your generous support, and for that we humbly thank you. Several qualitative initiatives are underway in India including medical records, mental health, conversational English, alumni outreach, and career development. In the U.S. we are also making an important internal change to our donor management database systems, which promise to greatly improve the effectiveness of our donor relations and record keeping. These are just a few of the projects that our dedicated staff and board members will pursue. As always, significant funds are needed to maintain our mission operations. We will pray and press towards these goals. Please partner with us!
- Highland, Maryland
- Board member since: 2013
- Retired since 2013, I reside in Highland Maryland with my wife Susan. We have three grown children: Laura, Carl and Paul. We have three wonderful daughters-in-law: Wendi, Nicole, and Molly. We also have three grandchildren, Raymond, Caroline and Emma Kate with another due in July 2018. My greatest joy is my family followed closely by visits to Bethania Kids in India where I see the results of our programs and the hope it brings to those in greatest need. Join us in service to the children and families in India.
Susan and I are lifelong Lutherans, and our first introduction to Bethania Kids was in Laurel MD with Our Savior Lutheran Church. At that time, OSLC supported the construction of Bethania’s first ministry facility. OSLC and our family have been supporters since then and are pleased to be in Service to our Lord, who works through us in to the Ministries in Bethania Kids. I am amazed where God has guided and blessed Bethania Kids for the last 26 years. I am glad to be working with our Brothers and Sisters in India who nurture, educate, care for, and bring the love of Christ into their lives. There is no more noble cause.
- Minneapolis, MN
- Board member since: 2018
- St. Olaf – B.A.
- Fellow of the Society of Actuaries
I reside in Minneapolis with my wife Katie, our young son, Bodie and our new daughter, Jorie. As an actuary, I consult with corporations on the management of their retirement plans. I was introduced to Bethania Kids through the Hennig family and have been a supporter of the organization for several years. I continue to be amazed by the life altering experiences Bethania is providing to God’s children in India.
- Winchester, VA
- Board member since: 2018
I am a gynecologist in Winchester, VA. I first discovered Bethania Kids through my church, Bethel Lutheran Church in Winchester. Bethel Lutheran is very active in the Bethania ministry. My oldest son, Gus, and I were fortunate enough to travel to India with a group from the church in 2014. The trip was transformative, and I have been passionate about this mission ever since. I am excited to see where God leads me in this ministry.
- Fort Worth, TX
- Mission Trips Committee Chair
- Board member since: 2014
- I am a graduate of Valparaiso University (1984) with a degree in Elementary/Special Education. I have taught learning disabled students, worked as an instructional paraprofessional and tutored students at Huntington and Sylvan Learning Centers. My husband, Steve, and I currently live in Fort Worth, TX, and we have three grown sons. I am a donor to Bethania Kids Sponsor-A-Child and also an Advisory Board member.
I was introduced to Bethania Kids through long-time supporters, Terry and Renita Wold. They had traveled to India to visit the Bethania sites and, upon their return, gave a presentation about their experience to our church’s congregation. That’s when I became hooked and wanted to be involved. My husband and I began donating to Sponsor-A-Child and we’ve had the privilege of hosting home gatherings, as well, when our Indian partners have visited the United States.
In February 2014, I traveled to India for the first time with a group led by David Granner. What an amazing experience! The greatest defining moment, for me, occurred at the special needs center in Kodaikanal. That’s when it hit me. . . a moment when I felt God’s overwhelming presence and the life-changing power of His love. Jesus, undoubtedly, shows himself to us through Bethania Kids. The wonders of His love radiate in the smiling faces of the children and the compassionate, nurturing staff. God has also drawn me into a deeper relationship with Him through this ministry. We are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus. I’m so grateful to serve our Lord and know Him more profoundly by being involved with Bethania Kids.
- Waterloo, Ontario Canada
- Board member since: 2015
- BSc, MD, CCFP(EM) McMaster University, Canada Family Medicine/ Emergency Medicine
I was born in Tamil Nadu, South India. My parents were missionaries there from 1953-1978. India has and continues to be a big part of my life. India is a beautiful country, and in the middle of this country is a beautiful jewel called Bethania Kids. But there is something even more special about Bethania Kids. It is the jewel that is shining the light of Jesus and providing hope for many children who could imagine little more than begging on the streets or being abused just for being handicapped or outcast. Bethania Kids is a home in India where children are loved and cared for. It’s a home where Jesus is present.
In Matthew 19:14, Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these.”
- West Bend, WI
- Board member since: 2016
- I grew up in Northern Minnesota where family difficulties led me to a great sense of Jesus and the plan he had in my life at a very young age. After high school I went to college and heard God’s voice inviting me to go to China. I sold everything and went there for two years. For the past 30 years, I sought every opportunity to share Jesus to the lost. The greatest gift God has given me in this world for the past twenty two years is my wife. Renee is a Proverbs 31 wife. We have a daughter, Hannah, who is a senior at Living Word Lutheran High School, who has been longing to go to India for the past 10 years, and was able to join me in June 2016. We also have a son, David, who has Autism, and is a freshman at West Bend East/West high school.
About 10 years ago I traveled to India for the first time with David Granner. This was a defining moment for me in my faith walk. I committed myself during this trip to do everything I could to help the children in Bethania Kids. I have gone to India each year for the past ten years or have sent a team from my church, St. John’s Lutheran. I pray for the lost in India, that the kids will marry and that India will become a Christian Nation, one child and one family at a time.
I thank my wife for allowing me the blessing to go to India to see my dear children, despite the difficulties she faces with my son’s needs when I go. God has called me to go and care for the children of India!
- Buffalo, NY and Ellicott City, MD
- Board member since: 2018
- BS Math and Computer Science – Bloomsburg University of PA
- MS, PhD – University of Maryland, College Park, MD
- Currently a College Professor-Computer Science and Engineering, University of Buffalo
My wife, Carol, of 30 years have three twenty-something daughters. Our extended family is in Maryland. My father grew up in India as the son of life-long Lutheran misssionaries. He went to school at the Kodai missionary school and knew the Bethania Kids founders families. I was introduced to Bethnaia Kids by Larry Zimmerman at The Lutheran Church of St. Andrew in Silver Spring MD. With the many changes in my life, (empty nester, career change, father-in-law…) I was happy to be given the opportunity to help expand the mission of Bethania Kids. We have supported the educational roles as both by wife and I are educators. I hope our service will lead to a small fraction of the opportunities we have been given, for those in India.
- Estes Park, CO
- Board member since: 2018
- Educated in business and information systems
- 30+ years experience in the consulting and software industries
I reside in Estes Park, CO with my wife Karen. Our son, David, is a senior at the University of Colorado in Boulder. I have worked in the IT consulting and software industry for many years and am currently working for a small software company that has an office in Hyderabad, India. I have had the opportunity to travel to India for work many times and have seen firsthand the needs of Indian children. Karen and I were introduced to Bethania Kids and Wendy Oesterling by friends at our church, St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal. I recently had the opportunity to visit Bethania Kids Angel Home in Rajahmundry and was inspired to see God’s love at work in the lives of these boys.
- Roseville, MN
- Board member since: 2020
- Kodaikanal International School
- B.A. Valparaiso University
- MMA Metropolitan State University
- DPA Hamline University
Being born and raised only miles from the site of several Bethania locations, I am familiar with the geography, the climate, and the challenges encountered by the poor families and children of this part of India. Many missionaries from the Zorn family served in India in the 19th and 20th centuries. The opportunity to serve on the Bethania board allows me to pursue the same mission that my ancestors began.
I learned of Bethania from Gene Hennig. We would meet occasionally for lunch and I would hear about the progress of the various projects. It was always and honor to receive a beautiful handwritten “thank you for your contribution: note from Polly Hennig, gene’s mother, early in the history of Bethania. Mrs. Hennig was my teacher for grades one to three. I always look forward to the newsletters to hear of new developments.
- Grand Junction, CO
- Board member since: 2020
- B.S. Tulane University
- Doctor of Medicine Tulane University School of Medicine
- Researcher, PRISMA and Johns Hopkins University, Peru 2014-2015
- Current Hospitilalist and Emergency Department Physician, St. Mary’s Medical Center, Grand Junction, CO
My wife and I recently celebrated 10 years of marriage and now have two beautiful daughters. I have had the pleasure of visiting the Bethania mission sites in India twice, and have been very impressed by the care and love provided in each of those homes. By God’s grace, I have finished medical training and now have more freedom to both financially and mentally support Bethania’s ministries. whan at play, I enjoy biking with my girls, swimming or rock climbing.
- Mequon, WI
- Board member since: 2020
- BS Pharmacy, St. Louis College of Pharmacy
- MHA Washington University, St. Louis
- Honorary Doctorate of Laws Concordia University, Ann Arbor
- Founding Dean of Concordia University School of Pharmacy, Mequon, WI
My wife Mary and I have two grown sons and three grandchildren.
I retired in December 2018 from my role as campus chief executive of Concordia University in Ann Arbor, Michigan to return to Wisconsin. I now do national healthcare and higher education consulting through my consulting firm, Gielow Ventures, in Mequon, Wisconsin. In April 2020, I joined the U.S. Foods and Pharmaceuticals as Chief Executive Officer to lead a revialiation of the company and its direct-to-consumers nutraceutical products.
In addition, I am a former hospital executive and international businessman who served 13 years in public office, four of those in the Wisconsin legislature where I chaired the Medicaid reform committee and served as vice-chair of the Wisconsin Health Committee. I have also served as mayor and alderman of my hometown of Mequon, WI.
- Board member since 2021
- Silver Spring, MD
- Bachelor of Arts, Houghton College
- Master of Science; Elementary Education, University of Massachusetts
Originally from New England, I moved to Maryland after marrying my husband, Allen in 2004. We have two children. Our daughter was born in 2007 while we were living and working overseas in Jakarta, Indonesia. When our son was born in 2013, we began our journey as special needs parents. I have been an elementary educator for 15 years in a variety of roles including ESOL and Special Education. I am thrilled to join the Bethania Kids Board and hop and pray that God will use me in His service to the children Bethania serves, alongside the dedicated staff and Board members for His glory.
Pres. SE District LCMS – Associate Board Member
- Springfield, VA
- Associate Board Member
- Board member since: 2018
- Concordia Junior College, Ann Arbor, MI – AA 1974
- Concordia Senior College, Ft, Wayne, IN – BA 1976
- Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, MO – M of D 1980
- Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, CA – Doctor of Ministry, Missiology 2000
- Appointed in 2001 to the Fairfax County (VA) Citizen’s Corp Council to represent the 1400 faith communities for the Dept. of Homeland Security
- Has chaired the Interfaith Emergency Planning Steering Committee, Fairfax (VA) County
My wife Connie and I just recently celebrated our 34 wedding anniversary. We have 3 daughters: Jessica, Laura and Sara who are grown and married with families of their own. My wife, Connie, is a life long educator. I have served as a vicar at Faith Lutheran in Vista, CA, a pastor at Trinity Lutheran in Auburn, NE, campus pastor at Campus Lutheran, University of Nebraska in Kearney, NE and at Prince of Peace Lutheran in Springfield, VA as both associate and senior pastor. I am currently serving as the President for the Southeastern District of the LCMS. Prior to this I served two terms as 1st Vice-President and two terms as secretary for the same body. I have served in multiple roles at the Circuit, District and Synod levels in addition to other ministry organizations. My mother Florene and Polly Hennig were great friends.
- Winchester, VA
- Director of Development
- Graduate of Kodaikanal International School, Kodaikanal, Tamil Nadu, India
- BMus – Wittenberg University – Organ and Church Music
- MChMus – Shenandoah University, Church Music
- Music Director, Grace Episcopal Church, Berryville, VA
- Conductor of the Piedmont Singers, musical outreach of Grace Episcopal Church, The Plains, VA
- Member of Winchester Musica Viva Chamber Choir
- Former high school music teacher
I spent my high school years at Kodaikanal International School where I knew all the founding families of Bethania Kids. Gene Henning, Bob Hennig, and Joel Dhanapal (sons of BK founders) were all friends of mine in school. Bob Granner, another founder, was my English and organ teacher. The ministry they and their families have built and shared with others serves God’s children in ways they could not have imagined when it began in 1987. It is a privilege for me to serve God through Bethania Kids. The work done by countless friends and donors makes an enormous difference in the lives of children, strengthening them so they can truly change their world through Jesus’ love.
- Ann Arbor, MI
My husband and I were first introduced to Bethania Kids by my husband’s carpool buddy and former board member, Ravi Srinivasan. We were impressed by the promise that 100% of our donations would go directly to the ministries in India. I’m delighted to be a more integral part of Bethania Kids now as a staff member..
- Stephens City, VA
- Marketing/Administration Coordinator
- BA in Elementary Education – Marshall University; MA Gifted Education – Marshall University
- Kanawha County, WV Public Schools
- Retired – Jefferson County, WV Public Schools
- Member – Winchester Musica Viva Chamber Choir
- Member – PIedmont Singers
- Member – Market Street United Methodist Church
My name is Toni O’Connor. I am the Marketing and Administration Coordinator. As a retired school teacher of 40 years, I am thrilled to be working with the Bethania Kids Board of Directors and staff in this life-changing foundation. I have a husband, Adrian, and a cat, Eli. We all live in Stephens City, Virginia.
Hold the Hand of a Child in Need
There are countless ways to participate in this vibrant ministry and share God’s love with the children at Bethania Kids.
Our 100% Promise
We channel 100% of every penny donated into direct ministry for children.
For more information about this and other ministry topics, please contact Bethania Kids at email@example.com or