Chris and Debbie Clark founded Children of the Nations in 1995 in answer to a child's prayer.
Chris is a fifth-generation missionary, born in Japan and raised in Liberia and the United States. In 1984, he graduated from Central Washington University with a bachelor of science in law and justice. Convinced God’s calling was for him to minister to children, he completed the ordination process and served as a youth pastor for five years. Later, he pursued a career with Youth for Christ, where he worked as a regional director for 10 years. Debbie grew up in Edmonds, Washington, and graduated from Seattle Pacific University in 1983 with a bachelor of arts in elementary education. With an interest in special education, she worked as a special education teacher in Western Washington for eight years. Early in their marriage, Chris and Debbie became foster parents, serving many children for more than 10 years.
In 1995, Chris and Debbie traveled to Sierra Leone with Youth for Christ and witnessed an intense orphan situation. The tragedy they encountered—thousands of children ravaged by a brutal war, living on the streets of Freetown without a family to care for them—forever changed their life direction. Because God allowed Chris’ missionary parents to raise their family in Africa for a time, this uniquely positioned Chris to be ready for God’s call.
The vision Chris and Debbie see for the benefit of God's Kingdom is to capture the hearts of orphans and direct them to Christ in a way that positions them for leadership. They believe the leadership of this unique group of transformational leaders will alter the issues currently influencing their societies. Moving beyond compassionate care to a place of true empowerment of children, along with partnerships with nationals, is Chris and Debbie's true desire and remains the single vision of Children of the Nations: raising children who transform nations.
Chris serves as Children of the Nations' international president and CEO, and on the COTN board of directors. He is also an honorary board member for each of the nonprofit organizations working under the umbrella of COTN: COTN–Sierra Leone, COTN–Malawi, COTN–Uganda, COTN–Dominican Republic, and COTN–Haiti.
As the founder and executive vice president, Debbie oversees COTN's international ministry and travels regularly to each country, working with in-country staff members to maintain the quality standard of care the children receive physically, spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and socially. Debbie is also the acting director of international development for COTN.
Chris and Debbie have three children: Alyssa, Sarah, and Bryce, and live in Poulsbo, Washington.
Vice President of Advancement
Eric began his role with Children of the Nations in August 2009, after hearing about the ministry during a presentation by Chris and Debbie Clark. Eric joined COTN to bring a background of strategic planning to our field activities in the US, focusing on the development of area offices that mobilize local churches, community groups, and businesses to partner with COTN. Serving previously as Vice President of Operations, he provided strong leadership to the staff along with project management, assessment, training, and coaching.
Eric, who has been an ordained pastor for 30 years, served in the church and several nonprofits. He received a master's degree in Global Leadership at Fuller Theological Seminary. In 1998, Eric founded CrosstheWorld Ministries, later to be known as Relationship180, a nonprofit based in Mission Viejo, California, that still provides Christian tools, resources, and coaching for healing marriages and relationships.
Eric works and lives in Orange County, California, where he and his wife, Lynne advocate for those who are marginalized and struggling. He is an avid road bike rider and loves spending time with his three children and three grandchildren.
Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer
Paul De Pree joined Children of the Nations’ executive team in 2018. As Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, he provides leadership, direction, and insight from his 35 years of experience in the business world. Paul is accountable for all USA based Operations and providing the executive interface for Operations to the COTN international groups and CEO.
Prior to coming to COTN, Paul worked for Dow Chemical. Upon retiring, he was Dow’s Director of Global Program Management. He has extensive experience with business leadership, managing global projects, and leading multiple departments.
Paul has served as a church elder and Bible study leader and is currently an active member of Bible Study Fellowship. He enjoys hiking, biking and boating. Paul and his wife live in Gig Harbor, Washington. They have five children, one son-in-law and an amazing grandson.
Board of Directors
Michael Jungkeit, M.D., Chairman of the Board
Founder of North Kitsap Ear, Nose & Throat in Poulsbo, Washington, Dr. Michael Jungkeit has been a COTN board member since 2002. After serving on a COTN medical Venture team to the Dominican Republic in 2000, he has led medical teams to the Dominican Republic annually, focusing on cleft lip and palate repair, general plastic and reconstructive surgery, and general otolaryngology. He earned his medical degree from the University of California, Davis, in 1990, and is board certified in head and neck surgery, and facial plastic and reconstructive surgery. Dr. Jungkeit serves on the Elder Board at Grace Point Church in Bremerton, Washington.
James Blessing, Treasurer
James Blessing is a senior loan officer with Chase Bank in Seattle. He became an original board member for COTN after befriending founder Chris Clark when they were both counselors at Island Lake Bible Camp in Poulsbo, Washington, in 1984. His Venture Trips include a visit to Sierra Leone in 1997 to begin building COTN's first Children's Home in Marjay Town, and a 2002 trip to celebrate the Home's grand opening. He is a member of the Cascade Backcountry Ski Patrol and attends Bethany Presbyterian Church in Seattle.
Jackie Lang, Secretary
Jackie Lang is a marketing consultant in Bellevue, Washington. A graduate of J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University, she brings a wealth of experience in online marketing, as well as offline market channels. She enjoys traveling with her husband and three children.
Brandon has been married to his beautiful Greek wife Irene since 1995. (Yes, it was a big fat Greek wedding.) Brandon and Irene have two children, Katriana and Nicholas.
Brandon was born and raised in Indianola, Washington. He graduated from Azusa Pacific University in California, and has spent the last 24 years in full time ministry. Brandon spent the first 20 years of ministry at Shepherd of the Hills Church in Porter Ranch, California, and Real Life Church in Valencia, California. A few years ago, he moved to Texas where he currently serves as Executive Pastor of Campus Ministry at Compass Christian Church in Colleyville, Texas.
Brandon has served with Children of the Nations in the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Uganda. He has led more than 20 trips to COTN’s ministry site in Northern Uganda. Brandon's long-time partnership with COTN and vast ministry experience make him an excellent addition to our board of directors.
M. Gregory DeSautel, M.D., M.B.A.
Dr. Greg DeSautel has been involved with COTN for more than 10 years, both on the board and in leading surgical teams to the COTN medical clinic in the Dominican Republic. He has practiced as an ear, nose, and throat surgeon in South Dakota for more than 18 years. He currently works at Sanford Health in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. He is married and has four children.
Bruce Donoho is the owner and CEO of California-based Bird-B-Gone, the world’s largest manufacturer and distributor of commercial-grade bird-control products; and is the owner of JB Plastics, a custom injection molding and manufacturing company. He holds a business degree from Purdue University. An Orange County, California, resident, Bruce has been a committed advocate and supporter of COTN since he heard Founder Chris Clark speak at his church, Presbyterian Church of the Master, in 2008. In 2010, he took a trip to Sierra Leone and Liberia with Chris to see the ministry firsthand, and explore the possibility of expansion. Bruce has always had a heart for serving the children of Liberia. He spent part of his childhood there while his father, a civil engineer, built the Port of Buchanan and the railway to the Nimba Mountains.
Pastor Mike Jones, D. Min., D.D.
Dr. Mike Jones is the senior pastor at Independent Bible Church in Port Angeles, Washington. He founded the Pacific Rim Bible College in Honolulu, Hawaii, and has taught doctoral classes to pastors in Japan, South Korea, and India. Having known the Clark family for more than 40 years, Dr. Jones joined the board in 2003 after Venture trips to the Dominican Republic and Sierra Leone.
Scott LaFramboise is the vice president of worldwide sales for Adaptive Insights, a cloud-based business software company in Palo Alto, California. Scott has built a career on his commitment to customer success, which is predicated on delivering solutions that align to the customer’s key business imperatives as well as driving specific business outcomes.
Scott joined Adaptive Insights from Salesforce, where he led the Life Sciences industry sales organization in the US. Prior to Salesforce, Scott led IBM’s overall software business in the Western U.S.
He holds two bachelor's degrees from Washington State University: one in political science and government and another in public relations.
Scott currently lives in Issaquah, Washington, with his wife of 20 years and two teenage children. He and his family enjoy spending time at their cabin in the Cascades where they enjoy fly fishing and snowmobiling. He is also an accomplished musician who performs regularly with a local rock band playing his saxophone. Scott and his family are actively involved in their local Young Life group. They have also been to the Dominican Republic with COTN, serving as volunteers. Scott started volunteering with Children of the Nations in 2013 and joined the board of directors in 2018.
Francisco Tejeda, COTN–Dominican Republic
Francisco Tejeda came to the Lord in his teens, and immediately responded to a call to work in the ministry of teaching the Word of God. Since then, Francisco has thrown himself passionately toward the cause of doing God’s work, becoming the regional youth director of the Church of God, Inc. (Iglesias de Dios) and a founding member of the Christian congregation Rio de Dios.
His passion extended toward serving the children of the Dominican Republic. After earning a law degree from Universidad Autonoma de Santo Domingo, Francisco went on to coordinate the formation of the Network for the Protection and Guarantee for the Rights of Children and Adolescents. It was through this work that he first became acquainted with mission of COTN.
Francisco has a postgraduate degree in non-governmental organization management and marketing from the University of Catalunya; a diploma in law from the Children and Adolescents (Grupo Humano); a special certificate of education in Management Accounting for Non-Governmental Organizations; did specialized study in laws governing NGOs in the Dominican Republic at INTEC University; and an accounting degree from the Universidad Autonoma de Santo Domingo. He has also worked as a consultant for other NGOs and as an employee of the Dominican Supreme Court of Justice. He looks forward to expanding the mission of COTN by caring for more children who are in need of help, both in the Dominican Republic and in neighboring Haiti. He is married to Celia Melo, who studied to become an academic counselor. They have three children.
Rev. James Okalo Ekwang, COTN–Uganda
"Pastor James" was born in Kampala, Uganda. He attended secondary school in Lira, and was later accepted to Makerere University in Kampala, receiving a government-sponsored scholarship based on marks. In 1998, he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in education, majoring in geography and world history. Later that year, he accepted a teaching position at a secondary school in Kampala and went on to teach at various colleges. God continued to call him into ministry; in 2002, he founded Truth Evangelistic Fountain Church in Lira. The following year, he left teaching behind and entered ministry full time.
Pastor James was first acquainted with COTN in January 2005 when Chris Clark came through Lira on his way to Gulu. At the time, Gulu was a rebel-war hotspot where most NGOs were going. In talking with Chris, James shared that all the problems that were in Gulu were present in Lira. “Why not stay here in Lira?” he asked. The next day, at James’ request, Chris toured the displacement camps with him and witnessed for himself the horrible conditions and immense need. As the COTN team prepared to depart for Gulu, Chris told James, “Pray and perhaps we will return.” He prayed fervently. The following year, COTN returned and began ministry in Lira.
Today, James oversees COTN–Uganda staff, continues his role as senior pastor at Truth Evangelistic Fountain, and oversees 10 Truth Evangelistic Fountain churches planted throughout Uganda.
Hopeson Khondiwa, COTN–Malawi
Hopeson Khondiwa comes from southern Malawi. He lost his father at age 4 and his mother at age 13, and was fortunate enough to be taken in by a distant relative as he finished his schooling. He has a heart for serving vulnerable children who were not as lucky as he was.
Hopeson has years of experience in the non-profit sector, where he has worked as an administration and finance director with multiple European Union programs, Danish-Church Aid, and Trocaire, where he served as the country director. He accepted Jesus as his personal Lord and savior in 1995 at a revival meeting in Lilongwe. He is currently studying to complete his PhD in business administration, holds a master’s degree in strategic management, and is a certified chartered accountant.
Hopeson and his wife, Mavis, who works for Save the Children Malawi, have been married since 2004. Together they have three children—two daughters, Tamanda and Mwayi, and one son, Chisomo. He and his family attend and are very involved at their church, Chikuluti CCAP (Presbyterian), where Hopeson serves as an elder.
Samuel Ngoneh, COTN-Sierra Leone
Samuel was a teenager when the rebel war broke out in Sierra Leone and he spent those years in different parts of the country seeking to avoid the violence. Samuel ultimately ended up in Freetown and says, “that is where I started life again!”
Samuel gave his life to Christ in 1997 after attending a local Bible study group. After completing secondary school Samuel gained various qualifications in electrical installation and refrigeration and worked as a technician for many years in various parts of the country.
After further study of computers and IT, Samuel accepted a position to teach technology in COTN’s Secondary School in Ngolala in 2007. Through diligence and hard work Samuel was appointed Resource Coordinator and then Centre Supervisor and Operations Manager. Passionate about spreading the Gospel in Banta, Samuel has played an active role in the growth and development of Church of the Nations. While working with COTN he completed a degree in Human Resource Management and was appointed to the position of Country Director in May 2019.
Samuel married Alice in 2010 and they have one beautiful daughter, Arlene Ndeleh.