Norm Knudsen’s Story

Norm Knudsen, Founder and CEO of Mercy Smiles International, and former director of Children of Promise, passed peacefully in his sleep on Saturday March 25th, 2017 at his home in Alma, Missouri, USA. He was an extraordinary man of empathy, kindness, and great “Father” love.

In 1976 Norm was filled with the Holy Spirit and the world turned over. He left his dream executive job in tele-communications, packed up the family, and left his 13-acre hobby ranch in Minnesota. He and His wife Karen headquartered in Missouri and began a 40- year run of directly helping destitute children around the world. The children rescued number in the tens of thousands. Maybe more. There is no way to fully count them.

On his first trip to India 37 years ago to see the children in the first mission children’s home, Mom (Karen) recounts that Norm broke down in tears, fell to his knees, and embracing the children cried “They are really here…they are really here…they are real.”

I met Norm in 1986, while I was pastoring. It was a school associated with his ministry where I received my “Certificate of Ministry’, my only earned ministerial credential. After Sou and I were called to missions, Norm came to Cambodia in 1999, as the Director of Children of Promise. It was Norm who arranged for an initial donor to give us our first regular orphan support; $10,000US per month, and the money for the first 4 Church/Homes. They are still operating. Norm introduced us to Craig Muller of warm Blankets who helped us greatly for almost a decade, and Norm directed us to International Cooperating Ministries, they went on to build 108 more churches for us in Cambodia. Throughout his life Norm remained a faithful friend of FCOP.

Norm founded the international adoption agency Love Basket, and “Mercy Smiles”, which supports separated children’s homes in India. Norm and Karen adopted more that 20 kids, and thousands from far and wide called him Papa. All who witnessed the Lord’s hand on the good work of this man saw something mysterious, inspiring, and awesome. If there is one single person I owe the inspiration of this ministry to, it is Norm.

Many don’t know how we got the name “FCOP”. When we first started in Cambodia in 1999, churches could not get a license unless they could demonstrate a viable social benefit to Cambodia. Churches were forbidden to do social work so we were forced to form a Non-Government-Organization (NGO). This required a name. I only had two supporters at that time, the Foursquare Church and Children of Promise, so I named the NGO ‘Foursquare Children of Promise”. This worked fine for several years, and both organizations still help us, but most of our money now comes from outside of those organizations, through hundreds of churches and individuals. The FCOP Board of Directors simply chose to keep the acronym FCOP and call the organization For Children of Promise.

“Children of Promise” was run by one of the hero’s of my life, Norm Knudsen. He is missed but his legacy lives on in those who care for kids and love the Lord. It would be a blessing to me if you would send a gift to help Karen carry the load in India, Please send your gift to: Mercy Smiles International, 21019 Gliddens Rd., Waverly, MO 64096. Or contact: Email:  Phone: 660/493-2937




 Help us change a nation one life at a time.