Joe Clendenny, a businessman from St. Louis, and his wife Pat felt a calling to serve God by serving people in need. A mission trip Joe made in September 2002 changed their lives forever.

Joe visited a few different parts of the world during his trip, but he was intensely moved by the suffering he saw among those affected by leprosy in Chennai in Tamil Nadu, India. These people and their families had been shunned by society, completely outcast with nowhere to turn. Joe was overcome with the feeling that these were the people God was calling him and his wife to help. Just months after returning home from his first trip, Joe made a second trip to Chennai in February 2003.

In Chennai, husband-and-wife missionaries Anil and Rose Kumar had begun their National Leprosy Relief and Rehabilitation Work ministry in 2000 to help the very same population that had touched the hearts of Joe and Pat. By combining their efforts, these four individuals realized they could be even more effective in working toward their common goal of improving the lives of those affected by leprosy. Together, they founded Embrace a Village (EAV) in 2003 with the purpose of providing medical care to those who had contracted the disease and also sharing with them Christ’s message of hope and healing. EAV became a 501(c)(3) organization in 2004 and has been able to commit 100% of donations to programs for those affected by leprosy.

The other two members of our team in the United States have been Jack Kennedy and his wife Sandy. Jack, an employee of a large agricultural company, spent several years working in India. During that time, he fell in love with the country and the people. However, he also understood there was great need there, especially among children. Jack began to feel that although he was working in India to help the people who live there, he was not necessarily working in a God-called way. He retired from his job in order to seek a path to a life of faith-based service.

Embrace a Village has grown to serve 35 villages, home to nearly 3500 people, in Tamil Nadu. Anil and Rose reside in India and oversee our staff of over 50 dedicated workers, all from India, who provide loving care and spiritual guidance to those affected by leprosy. Joe and Pat Clendenny continue to coordinate EAV operations from the United States, and members of our USA team visit Tamil Nadu several times each year to work with the people we serve and to provide additional encouragement to Anil and Rose.

We believe that Embrace a Village stands apart as a shining example of what God can do through just a handful of people who seek to fully align their lives with what God might do through them.