An Unusual Invitation

By Ellen Tuthill

I had been inside the tiny homes of Ethiopian orphans before.  But this June, I was invited into a home in our “de facto” orphan program, where 3 generations lived together – a widow Amina, her widowed daughter Aliya, and 2 small grandchildren, ages 9 and 6.  Amina was aging, Aliya was very ill with HIV, and the children, Sara and Baradeen, might soon be orphans.

The absence of friends stood out on this visit.  No neighbor children hung around the door to stare and shyly smile at us.  No women stood nearby in quiet welcome.  It turns out that the people of  their small community have completely shunned this family because of their HIV+ status.   No one speaks to them…they cannot use the communal water pump…neighbor children are barred from playing with Sara and Baradeen.  This also means that they have no way of making a living.  The family seemed surprised that we actually intended to enter their home.

As soon as we sat down, this tiny Muslim grandmother stood up, raised her voice, and began praising our young Christian friend and social worker, Tsehaye, calling this 20something girl “my mother”, to our great surprise!  This was because Tsehaye (middle back row in olive shirt) arrives regularly on behalf of Hope in Ethiopia – on behalf of all of us who support it – to deliver food, conversation, hugs, and money for rent and school.  In Ethiopia, this means Tsehaye deserves the honor due a parent.  And outside of Tsehaye, this family is totally alone, because she is their only visitor and their only friend.  She represents hope, and she represents Jesus.

Tsehaye is a humble servant of God who has something in common with that much-envied, much-imitated Proverbs 31 woman:  “She extends her hand to the poor, And she stretches out her hands to the needy.”  Unlike her, you may never meet these widows — but you can send Tsehaye to their house.  You can pay her salary, and you can even fill her hands with food, clothes, medicine, and money for the schooling and housing this family needs.  You can pray that every time she wraps her arms around Amina, Aliya, and the children to comfort them, they will feel the embrace of God.  In giving to Hope in Ethiopia, you can help keep these widows alive day to day, and bless their children with a future.

It’s an unusual invitation.  But consider yourself invited.  :-)

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