Simone Puccinelli is the founder of Simone’s Kids, a ministry dedicated to educating children in Uganda. She started the ministry while she was still a college student and now they are responsible for educating over one thousand children every school day. Today you will hear the amazing story of how God has helped her build this powerful ministry and you will hear about how her children are being trained to share their faith.
Support Simone’s Kids: https://www.simoneskids.org/
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (00:00):
Simone Puccinelli is the founder of Simone’s kids, a ministry dedicated to educating children in Uganda. She started the ministry while she was still a college student. And now Simone’s kids is responsible for educating over 1,000 children every school day. Today, you will hear the amazing story of how God has helped Simone build this powerful ministry, and you’ll hear about how her children are being trained to share their faith.
Evangelism Podcast Host (00:43):
Welcome to the evangelism podcast with Dr. Daniel King, where Daniel interviews, full-time evangelists, pastors, missionaries, and normal everyday Christians to discover how they share their faith, their powerful testimonies, and amazing stories that will inspire you to reach people with the good news. And now here’s your host, missionary and evangelist Daniel King.
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (01:07):
Welcome to the evangelism podcast. I’m Daniel King, and I’m excited about telling people about Jesus today. We have a very special guest with us, Mrs. Simone Puccinelli thank you so much for being on the evangelism podcast.
Simone Puccinelli (01:21):
Thank You for having me here. I’m very excited.
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (01:24):
Simone has been a friend of our family for many years. I think we originally met you on a trip to Jamaica. Maybe we met your family.
Simone Puccinelli (01:36):
Okay. Yeah, I would probably have only been about like eight years old. So I don’t remember exactly. You’re
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (01:42):
Not ate eight any longer, but
Simone Puccinelli (01:43):
I don’t remember, you know what? Because me and your brother are about the same age. And I remember when we were like five or six, you came out to our house. Me and your brother were five and six years old. So I’m pretty sure I was pretty, I don’t remember our family not being friends. So,
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (02:02):
And you are a very impressive young lady because God put it on your heart to start a ministry, which is called Simone’s kids and you are helping children in the nation of Uganda. So tell me about that. How did you get interested in helping children in Uganda?
Simone Puccinelli (02:25):
Well Daniel, I was really as a child drawn to helping other kids in need. And when I would hear those stories, it was just something that my heart was really drawn to, to be compassionate towards. And when I was 12, actually got the call to be a missionary. And so I, you know, begged my parents to let me go on mission trips. And I actually went on a mission trip with you when I was in middle school to Haiti in the Dominican Republic.
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (02:58):
I remember that trip to Haiti. That was a, a great crusade. Thousands of people came, but it was a very difficult trip. I remember that the food was horrible. It was hot. The living conditions were horrible. They told us that the, the chicken that we were eating, our marathon running chickens, it was like eating beef jerky. It was not like soft KFC chicken,ubut uyou went on the mission trip with us and
Simone Puccinelli (03:24):
I did, and we endured the heat and I was still a gymnast back there. So I got to do flips and make the whole crowd very excited. And I witnessed a lot of miracles firsthand and like that was hard, but, you know, I loved it. And so I went on more trips to Africa and just really got involved with learning from others how they do ministry, how it works logistically. And then in college, I got connected with a couple in Uganda through a connection that I did know, and basically they had been born and raised and were local people trying to help out the street, children in their community. And God just really laid it on my heart to help them. And so I went over there and saw the need and saw God’s heart and for the kids’ lives. And I saw the, you know, the enemy really coming in and trying to tell them that they were worthless and, you know, basically kill still and destroy their lives and just, I could not do it cuz God wanted, you know, God wanted me to do it. So that’s how it was birthed.
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (04:38):
Now, when God first put it on your heart to give money, to help children in Uganda, how much were you able to raise like the first month that you tried to, to raise money?
Simone Puccinelli (04:51):
So the initial email conversations was around $500 to cover the rent for the building. So the school could stay open. The, the couple had started.
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (05:02):
And at that time you were still a college student.
Simone Puccinelli (05:05):
I Was a sophomore in college.
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (05:06):
And so raising $500 is phenomenal, is huge for a college student.
Simone Puccinelli (05:12):
It, so I would say it, it took me several months, three, three or three or four months. Yeah. Yeah.
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (05:17):
And now the school has grown there. Many teachers you have over a thousand children now is that? Yeah.
Simone Puccinelli (05:26):
So when I got there, we were probably working with like 60 to 80. I didn’t get a official head count back then. And now we are working with over a thousand children
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (05:36):
And how many teachers are helping to teach the,
Simone Puccinelli (05:39):
We have 120 staff and they’re all local.
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (05:42):
And where is Simone’s kids located in Uganda?
Simone Puccinelli (05:46):
It’s in the district of NA Coste. And so that’s really north of the capital central, the central ish area, but it’s in a remote village.
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (05:57):
And so paint a picture for me. What does the ministry look like now there on the ground in Uganda now you started with just a, a little tiny school. Mm-Hmm <affirmative> but it’s growing. So, so just paint a picture for me. If someone was to visit your school, what would they see?
Simone Puccinelli (06:13):
Well, right now, if they visited to campus, they would fall find a primary classrooms and bathrooms that were big and nice and spacious for the students. A big, nice area for preparing food, a medical clinic, a library, a two story library. They would also find a high school with science labs and two giant dormitories. So the high school students actually live on campus and, you know, office buildings. And so we really kind of do like a holistic care for our students.
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (06:50):
And how many teachers are there
Simone Puccinelli (06:53):
Specifically teachers? I think that’s around 70 to 80.
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (06:58):
And so it starts 20 staff all the way from how, how old is the youngest and how, how far up the grades do you go?
Simone Puccinelli (07:06):
So we have three preschool grades. So we have a three year old class, four year old class and five year old class. And then it goes up through the high school, the way it works. It’s almost like an associate’s degree. So we’ll have, we’ll have up to the age of 20, 21 years old.
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (07:20):
And so now some kids have gone through your program for, for many years mm-hmm <affirmative> and are you helping to put them into a university and, and get fully educated?
Simone Puccinelli (07:31):
So the past three years or so, we’ve been building a like university fund and putting money aside for that. And we have 21 students in, in college.
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (07:41):
Wow. And so this is growing by, by leaps and bounds and has really been through your, your faith and effort and just sharing the vision with people to, to help the, the kids in Uganda. What is it that really motivates you to do all of this for the kids Uganda?
Simone Puccinelli (08:02):
To me and my, why is that? I truly believe that everyone deserves to understand and feel loved. And the, the most important love to feel is Jesus Christ loved. So <affirmative> creating an avenue and that’s what the school is for our child to be able to like for us to reach that child cuz we serve orphan and extremely poor children. And so if the teachers and the staff and myself can be that light of love and make that connect and with someone that has never actually experienced love, cuz you know, most of them like have been abandoned or their parents died. And so they’re outcast in society. And so they really are depleted of that experience. So my why is just for one more child to get to experience loved being
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (08:58):
Loved, which is such a, a great method for evangelism. This is the evangelism podcast. And so we’re always talking about different ways of, of reaching people, but really it comes down to loving people. Mm-Hmm, <affirmative> wanting to show the love of Jesus to people. And have you seen some results in the, the lives of the kids? Are they serving the Lord
Simone Puccinelli (09:21):
<Laugh> yes. I, I have one personal experience of when we got to be there on the ground for two months of seeing this child, having like the depleted look versus the like bright look. And you could just tell all the difference of a child that’s loved and unloved and this child actually ended up passing away around the age of six. So I can’t really give a testimony that they’re like grown and serving the Lord, but there’s so many students that like come back and are just like, you know, so thankful that for their experience at our school and receiving, you know, that guidance. And so yes, I would say they are being transformed
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (10:03):
And your school has really become a light for the entire community. You’re mm-hmm, <affirmative>, you’re impacting more than the, just the children’s lives. You’re also able to have a positive impact on the, the parents, a community. And you really believe that it takes a whole village to raise a child. Tell, tell me what you mean by that.
Simone Puccinelli (10:26):
Yes. So Simone’s kids, we have a, a giving program and we, we call that group the village because we believe it takes a village to raise a child. And so we, we believe that also on, you know, on the ground in Uganda and the fact that we, we need the teachers, if we need the guardians and anyone in, in their lives pouring into their lives to create, you know, a, a good result in that child’s life. And to give them a chance to actually break out a of that poverty cycle and not just give an amount that, you know, helps them survive through this time. We want to give them the tools that they’re gonna need as an adult to find a good spouse, to be a good spouse, to be a good parent, to, you know, be a good employee or, you know, be ethical business person if they start a good job. So we’re are really thinking about their future and what we can put in their lives today to, to help them succeed tomorrow. And but the way people, you know, stateside and around the world can get involved and, and be a part of that impact is, is joining the village for us because
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (11:35):
So if someone is listening right now and they want to be involved and to help you help these children in Uganda, how can they be involved? What they can, they do to be a part,
Simone Puccinelli (11:47):
Well, become a part of the village <laugh> so, you know the village, we really see as true partners and them doing the work. So if someone has a heart for children in need and want to do that work and wanna make that part of their life story, they can join us and becoming a part of the village, giving, you know, a at $25 a month and be supporting the children in this, in this journey they have. And the recurring giving is, is so important because it doesn’t just say like, I’m gonna give to this cause, or I’m gonna give to evangelism. And this one time recurring giving says, I, this is what I want to be a part of my life story. I want my life story to be like, you know, I, I was caring for orphans. That was part of my life journey. A one time gift is good, but recurring gifts say, this is what I want to be a part of my,
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (12:53):
Yeah, this is pure religion to care for widows and orphans. And so by caring for these kids, you’re actually doing what is so close to the heart of God. And so I want to encourage you, if you’re listening, go to Simone’s kids.org, mm-hmm <affirmative> S om, O N EES Simone’s kids.org and become a partner join with Simone and helping these children in the nation of Uganda. This is good ground. Our family yeah. Have been good friends for, for many years. And, and I’ve been watching Simone over the years build up this vision and, and it’s just so many amazing to see what God is doing through you. Let, let’s talk a little bit about the, the personal side of mm-hmm <affirmative> being a missionary and being in ministry not only are you helping to run Simone’s kids, right. But you’re also a wife, you’re a mother, right. You have two little children who you’re respons for. And so what is that like balancing, running a ministry, very successful ministry, and also being a wife and a parent.
Simone Puccinelli (14:05):
I believe it’s really about just spending time in prayer and looking at what obedience looks like for your life. And then God giving grace and providing and doing work where you can’t do the work. So because I also suffer with chronic illness. And so sometimes God calls me to rest, or God calls me to be at home with, you know a child. And so it looks like I’m not then being able to like 40 hard hours a week, but then, you know, God supplements, you know, the gifts and the time and multiplies what I do do as it. And then, so like, I don’t have to put in the 40 hours or doesn’t have to look like what the world thinks it needs to look like. And so to me, putting my family first, putting God first, like spending time with him is the most important, not like not putting any idols before him that meaning, you know, my time and my conveniences and then putting my family and then the ministry God takes care of, you know, what, what’s his, and ultimately it’s, it’s his ministry and he’s allowing me graciously to steward it here on this earth.
Simone Puccinelli (15:26):
And so I just, every, every time there’s a life change or maybe I’m sick for a week. We may get like a $10,000 donation and I may have made 30 phone calls and not raised any money. So really God, <laugh> you say, balancing all this, God just keeps taking me back probably where he takes most people of like, do you trust me? Do you trust me? Do you trust me? And is really hard place? You know, I feel like my whole life God wants me to just trust him and have faith in him and his plan. And just through every, you know, like my husband is trying, you know, gone through this, going to med school and we’ve had to, you know, have faith and trust of where he’s gonna be a resident. And if he’s gonna get to the next step and with both children, they were both through adoptions is having to have faith for him to build our family. And just faith for him to take care of the ministry. And yeah, I have to have a lot of faith. <Laugh>
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (16:29):
Well, you’ve taken what God has given you, this, this small vision mm-hmm, <affirmative> of helping a small group of kids and it’s growing and growing and growing. Yeah. And now you have a big vision impacting over a thousand kids every single day in, in Uganda. What’s the, the vision for the future. I know you have some more projects that God’s put it on your heart. What, what do you see happening in the future for Simone’s kids?
Simone Puccinelli (16:57):
Well, we have a campaign going on called big vision, big impact. And so we’re looking at prosing 50 to a hundred acres and using that to build out a state ofthe art high school state, ofthe art vocation in school and taking our current campus, which is about 10 acre, eight to 10 acres, and doubling the size of our primary school. And so being able to have 600 students instead of 300 students at the primary school, and then at the high school, just making it, making it a better experience for the, and being able to, instead of having a big, large dorm for 300 boys to live in, building out maybe homes of 12 boys per home, and getting like fam you know, mentor families in there to take them through the four years of high school, more being able to focus more on discipleship and one on one pouring into their lives. And so we’re looking at that being like a 300, 3.5 million project,
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (18:00):
Well, that requires some, some big faith, but I believe God will provide right. And you’ll be able to do all that and, and even more. And I, I really believe that what you’re doing is so significant because these children that you’re training you’re, you’re, you’re training them in the things of God you’re imparting Christian principles into their lives. You’re, you’re speaking life into them in, into a, a situation where often there is poverty, where, where is no hope you’re, you’re bringing hope. Mm-Hmm, <affirmative> in the midst of this, this situation. And I believe that out of your school, God is going to raise up students that will be future leaders in the nation of Uganda that could someday be president of Uganda. We always
Simone Puccinelli (18:47):
Say, we’re raising the next president. That’s our, what, that’s what we speak over our skull. <Laugh>
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (18:53):
Simone Puccinelli (18:53):
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (18:54):
It. Amen. And, and I think it will happen like, like you’re, you’re giving them top-notch education, helping them mm-hmm <affirmative>, but also giving them the, the spiritual component so that they can be close to God and to have that, that spiritual relationship with God.
Simone Puccinelli (19:10):
And, and one thing like, you know, evangelism, one thing that we really do at the high school is also teach evangelism and, and teach them how to be missionaries. And so there’s teams that go to the prisons, the local prisons, and do skits and pray for them. And then we have teams that go on like a monthly basis to different hospitals and go and pray for all the sick and see healings, and really just kind of try to encourage them to go to even deeper villages. So you know, we live in a remote village, but there is even deeper levels of remote villages where, you know, it’s only a mut huts, you know, there isn’t even access to get power. Like we, we work with families that don’t have electricity or running waters or run room houses, but there’s like places where that they wouldn’t even have access to connect to something like that. You know? So there’s, there’s deeper levels. And, you know, just, you know, when I go over there and then able to like share with we just really encourage them that, you know, they’re local and they’re Ugandan and missionaries from other countries and, and evangelists from other countries are great, but they can make that connection deeper than we can being from that country. If they’re willing to be missionaries to their own country.
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (20:30):
I, I really feel like the holy Spirit’s giving me a vision right now of your school being a light and shining light throughout Uganda, but even to the surrounding nations mm-hmm <affirmative> and in areas that God’s gonna raise up, even kids that will be missionaries out of your school, that will go to Southern Sudan, which in many ways is even poor than Uganda is and scarier and, and Rwanda and Congo and Kenya and Tanzania. I mean, there there’s so much that God wants to do in that part of Africa and even up into Northern Africa. So you’ve got South Sudan, but then you’ve got north Sudan, which is mostly Muslim all the way up to Egypt. That entire region desperately needs the gospel. They, they need the hope of Jesus Christ. And, and so I, I just feel like the holy spirit is giving me a vision of your school shining light to that entire region of Africa.
Simone Puccinelli (21:33):
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (21:35):
And so I
Simone Puccinelli (21:35):
That’s really encouraging.
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (21:37):
Amen. So I encourage you Simone, keep up the good work. Thank you. God’s hand is on you and I believe the, your best days are still to come. God has more for you. And so if you’re listening and you want to help the children of Uganda, if you wanna help educate them, you want to help feed them right now, go to Simone’s kids.org. Mm-Hmm, <affirmative> find out more about Simone. You can find out some information about her and about the ministry. See some pictures of the beautiful kids. They’re so beautiful. Yeah. And they’ve got such beautiful face. I mean, they’re, they’re so good looking in, in that part of Uganda. And, and so go to the website, Simone kids.org, and find out how you can be involved. You can support them, even there’s possibilities of going over there on trips, even looking for people who have a heart for teaching to go and teach. And so there’s lots of ways that you can be involved in helping the children in Uganda.
Simone Puccinelli (22:30):
We’re even looking for full-time missionary stuff.
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (22:33):
<Laugh> yeah. So
Simone Puccinelli (22:34):
There’s, that’s their call. I won’t call me <laugh>.
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (22:37):
All right. Well, thank you so much, Simone, for being on the evangelism podcast. It was great having you here today.
Simone Puccinelli (22:42):
Thank you so much, Daniel.
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (22:44):
Thanks so much for listening today. I am excited about telling people about Jesus. And I want to invite you to be a part of helping us to rescue people from hell and take them with us to heaven. There’s two things you can do to help. First of all, can you go find the evangelism podcast on apple iTunes and leave us a positive review by giving a review, you will help other people find these valuable resources about sharing our faith. And second, would you become a financial partner with king ministries? Every single dollar that people give us enables us to lead at least one person to Jesus. And so that means for only $1, you can help start a party in heaven. And so today I want to invite you to become a monthly partner. You can start out for just a dollar, but if God puts on your heart to do more, of course you can do more, but please go to king ministries.com and become a monthly partner with us today to help us to lead more people to Jesus. Thank you so much. And God bless you
Evangelism Podcast Host (24:04):
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