Staff & Board Members
The Forsaken Children Staff
Joe and his beautiful bride, Karyn are really just ordinary people who have fallen in love with the people of Ethiopia, especially the children. After experiencing the site of thousands of children living on the streets of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia firsthand in 2006, they helped start The Forsaken Children, Inc. (TFC), which exists to bring lasting hope to Ethiopia through these, Ethiopia’s street children. Joe and Karyn have a passion for partnering with Ethiopian ministries to carry out this task and have loved doing so! Most importantly, Joe and Karyn fully recognize that The Forsaken Children and their Ethiopian partners are not these children’s savior, but they know who is and aim to direct those whom God puts in TFC’s care to Jesus. The Bridges currently live in Memphis, Tennessee. The loves of their lives are their three kiddos – Jack, McLaine, and Silas!
Jonathan and his lovely bride, Jess Bridges felt God’s call to join the work of The Forsaken Children in 2006. Prior to this call they never really thought that they would do international missions, but Jonathan made the leap first and traveled to Ethiopia in January 2008 to make preparations for the family’s visit in May. That summer while the family was surrounded by the culture and life so far away from the United States, they were exposed to the beauty and despair that is Ethiopia. Throughout the three month trip, Jon and Jess could see God’s hands at work and became connected with this ministry in a way that would later lead them to join the staff as the Sustainability Coordinator in 2011. In late 2010 the Lord led them to make a major move and go to Ethiopia long term and fully invest in the people there beginning in the fall of 2011. Jonathan uses his experience in agriculture to aid The Forsaken Children with their agriculture project, Kota Ganate. In addition, he works to teach Ethiopians in the rural countryside to drill low cost, low tech wells through his training with Water for All International. Jonathan is a graduate of North Carolina State University with a BS in Biology and Jessica received her BA in English from Catawba College in Salisbury, NC. In addition to staying busy with their son Dawit and daughter Carter, Jessica works to teach English to both children and adults in the Ethiopian countryside.
Kara is a founding board member for The Forsaken Children. She came to love the ministry of TFC and gained a passion for their vision through her relationship with Karyn Bridges. As her best friend, Karyn would share all the stories from her time in Ethiopia that broke Kara’s heart. In response to her brokenness, Kara desired to find a way to help Joe and Karyn with their ministry and was ultimately invited to be on the board. Having previously worked for a non-profit, Kara immediately took on trying to help with bookkeeping and anything she had former experience with. That helpfulness eventually turned into Kara officially taking on an administrative role with TFC in 2009. Kara lives in Memphis, TN with her husband, Johnpaul and their two daughters. Alyssa is their oldest and is quite the artist. Kelsey is their young entertainer, singing and dancing all the time. Kara is a home schooling mom and part time administrator for TFC. The Moses family is very involved at their church, Central, where Johnpaul leads worship and they both teach a class for married couples.
In June 2010, Kelly and his wife, Heather traveled to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on a short term mission trip. For just over a week, the McGugans were able to invest in the work The Forsaken Children does in Ethiopia, and therefore fall in love with the children and community it serves. Since their first experience in Ethiopia, Kelly jumped in with both feet to serve TFC. Kelly is currently the Volunteer Sports Ministry Coordinator and has led numerous short term mission trip teams back to Ethiopia – working hard to advocate “lasting hope for Ethiopia” through sport. His wife, Heather served on the TFC Board from 2010-2012. The McGugans live in Memphis, TN with their two dogs and attend Central Church. Kelly is a project manager for a marketing and communications company and Heather is a nurse.
The Forsaken Children Board
Randall is a founding board member for The Forsaken Children. He has had the privilege of visiting several countries on short-term missions trips including Ecuador, India and Uruguay. But without a doubt one of the most thrilling opportunities he has had is visiting TFC’s Ethiopian partners and meeting Nega [Ethiopian director] and the wonderful children whom God has brought TFC to minister to. Randall fell in love with the children and the amazing staff in Ethiopia God has put together to oversee this work of grace and love. His wife Mary Ann went with him in 2009 and that meant the world to him. He saw her compassion for these children fully expressed in her devotion to see that they had competent health instruction and such basics as school uniforms. He will never forget his trip to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Randall is a pastor at Central Church. He lives in Memphis, TN with his beautiful wife, Mary Ann. They have four incredible children and seven grandchildren and enjoy spending time with them and seeing what God is doing in and through them.
Britainy first had her heart broken for the street children of Ethiopia during a short term mission trip to Addis Ababa in June of 2011. Since then she has become passionate about doing her part as an obedient Christ follower in making a difference in the lives of these children. Britainy enjoys speaking to large groups about TFC and encourages others to become a part of the ministry work of TFC. Britainy resides in Collierville, TN where she is a full time mom to Grant and Claire. Britainy and her husband, Kevin, have been married since 1999 and have lived in IN, OH, GA, IL, CA and TN. As a member of Central Church, Britainy is active in the inner city ministry as co-chair. She is a mentor with One By One Ministries and serves African refugees in Memphis.
Travis and his wife, Maggie have known Karyn Bridges (wife of TFC Director, Joe Bridges) for a long time, but their first real exposure to the mission and work of The Forsaken Children came through a dessert party they attended in 2007. According to Travis, “Joe & Karyn’s desire and passion for seeking God’s kingdom first is so rare, real, and convicting that my wife and I knew it would be a privilege to become active supporters of TFC.” Since that time, the Harms have been amazed to see how God is rewarding Joe & Karyn’s obedience and blessing the Ethiopian children that are so near to God’s heart through them. Travis joined the board in 2010, was elected Chairman of the board in 2011, and Treasurer in 2013. He is a financial analyst at Mercer Capital and lives in Memphis with his beautiful wife and three children, Sophie, Luke, and Nate.
In August 2010 Katie and her husband, Brad, traveled to Ethiopia for the first time to meet their son, Yohannes. They visited the country again the following month to bring him to Tennessee to join their family. During those two trips, an unshakable love for Ethiopia was formed in their hearts, and they left with a longing to continue to minister to the people there. In May 2012 that door was opened, and Katie joined the board of TFC, excited to be a part of ongoing ministry in a country she continues to love deeply. Brad and Katie have been married since 1999 and live in Midtown Memphis with their three boys, Riley, Cole & Yohannes. Brad is the pastor of Mercy Hill Church, and Katie is a stay-at-home mom and part-time photographer. They enjoy living in, serving, and loving the Vollintine-Evergreen community.
David and his wife Diane met while living overseas and have had a heart for people of other lands ever since. They have had the privilege of leading numerous mission trips and seeing people deepen in their passion for missions as a result. As the parents of two children born in another country, they also have a passion for orphans and living out James 1:27, which lists the care of orphans as one element of acceptable religion in the sight of God. In 2010, David was invited to be on the Board of Directors for The Forsaken Children, bringing experience of overseas ministry as well as over a decade of work in Christian non-profits. David, Diane and their three children live in the Memphis, TN area where David works for FedEx as a marketing analyst and Diane works as a homeschool mom. They are members of Central Church in Collierville where David and Diane also teach a Christian Worldview and Apologetics class.
Liz Gillentine is a founding Board member of The Forsaken Children. She and her husband, Ed, have a love for Ethiopia that was ignited through Karyn and Joe’s passion for the country and its people. Ed has also served on the Board and has had the privilege of traveling to Ethiopia and visiting TFC’s Ethiopian partners several times. They are both so excited to be a part of this amazing ministry. Liz and Ed live in Memphis, Tennessee and are members of First Evangelical Church where they serve in the college ministry. They have 3 beautiful children, Mullin, Madelynn and Gabe. Liz also serves on the Board of Directors for Bethany Christian Services.
Dick Jacob and his wife Suzie are members of Central Church and have known Joe and Karyn since before their marriage. Joe and Karyn were friends of their daughters in the college and career class at Central Church. It has been very rewarding to witness their call to missions, their spiritual growth and commitment to the Forsaken children, and their journey as Godly parents. Dick is a retired Naval aviator and FedEx pilot. Suzie is Interim Dean of the University Of Tennessee Health Science Center College Of Nursing. They have a heart for teaching couples God’s design for Marriage and have taught Preparation for Marriage classes at Central Church for approximately 24 years. Dick and Suzie have 3 married daughters and 9 wonderful grandchildren.
Suzanne first met Karyn Bridges on a mission trip to the Czech Republic. It was a friendship/kinship from the start. There was an immediate connection for missions and a love for people. When Joe and Karyn were married and began the work of The Forsaken Children, Suzanne and her husband were among the first supporters of the work in Ethiopia. Besides the Czech Republic, she has done mission work in Mexico, Belize and currently works with international students through Campus Outreach at the University of Memphis and inner city women in the Binghampton area of Memphis through the Neighborhood Christian Center. Next on her bucket list is to visit the Onesimus Center in Addis Ababa.
Suzanne and her husband, Daryl are native Texans who have lived in Memphis, TN for 25+ years and have two incredible children. Their pride and joy are their 3 amazing grandchildren (twin boys, Pete & Hobson and a diva girl, Ellie). Suzanne is retired from school counseling and is a wellness consultant for a nutritional company–Juice Plus+. Good nutrition and healthy kids is at the heart of her passion these days. She is blessed to be a part of The Forsaken Children Board and desires to see God work through this powerful hands-on ministry to change the lives of street children in Ethiopia forever.