Two Powerful Stories from Zeway

Of the dozens of home visits that we’ve been on this week, two stand out in my mind.

The first was the home of Meseret, an HIV+ mother of four children, Sadam, Keeya, Miki and Sammy.  Meseret radiated gentleness.  She is a loving mom to her kids and joyfully secure in her faith.  Miki, who is 7 years old, says that he wants to be a missionary when he grows up, but in reality, he already is one.

At a very young age, Miki heard his mother read to him from the scriptures about Jesus’ death for the sins of mankind, and it changed his life.  From that moment on, he has been committed to telling everyone he meets about this Jesus who died willingly for our sins.  He began witnessing to a neighbor lady who was on drugs and married to a drunk.  Through his counsel, she realized her need for Christ and came to saving faith in Him.  Now this neighbor woman joins Meseret and her children in their weekly street evangelism ministry.  In the middle of our meeting, Miki asked to pray.  As he stood in the middle of the room praying over us, I was deeply humbled by the giant faith of this tiny boy.  Although I couldn’t understand many of the words of his Amharic prayer, his posture and his tone were unmistakable.  Miki approached our God with boldness and with fervency.

What makes this story all the more special is that, like his mother, Miki also lives with HIV.  None of us know how many more days Miki or Meseret will walk this earth.  Yet, we know that they can say with Paul, “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”  When God gives them their last breath and says their time here is done, they will stand before their Maker, reconciled through Jesus.

The next story is not a happy one.  It is, in fact, the story that I have shed tears over and felt most broken for.

Kuftu is a 12-year-old CHH orphan.  She is beautiful, articulate and smart, but her eyes are sad and her face is solemn.

Kuftu has no memory of her parents and has been only trying to survive for most of her short life.  She has no siblings.  She has been mistreated and abused by many people.  She was found by a Food for the Hungry social worker and brought into the CHH program.

Now, Kuftu’s physical needs are met by the program.  She has clothing, a roof over her head, enough food, and school supplies.  But Kuftu’s demeanor is fearful and withdrawn, and her spirit is sad.  “Please pray that good things will happen to me.”  She has never known love, never been special to anyone.

Even though there were others in the room much more gifted in counseling than I am, I facilitated the conversation because I was the only female present.  I know that God set that up so that my heart would break for Kuftu.  She is the same age as my firstborn.  It absolutely wrecked me to hear this girl say that the hardest thing in her life was that she had never known her parents.  She could not make eye contact.  Her eyes were glued to the floor and her spirit was hopeless.

By the end of our meeting, I had run out of both words and comfort.  It’s in moments like this that I realize that I have nothing to give, and the gospel is the only good news I have.  As we walked out of the house, Matt urged me, “Tell her who she is.  She needs to hear it from you.”

I pulled her aside and told her all of the things I saw in her.  Beautiful.  Smart.  Precious.  Lovable.  A blessing.  I told her all the things I tell my own children, all things I imagine she hasn’t heard.  Then I said, “Kuftu. I only just met you, but I can SEE all these things in you.  You have a Maker who knows you intimately. He formed you and He knows you. He says that if you call on His name, He will answer you.  If you seek Him, He will be found.  He is so faithful, Kuftu!  He is more faithful that the best earthly parents, and He is a Father to the fatherless.”  As I held her hands and spoke into her face, her eyes still could not meet mine, but they filled with tears. 

For the rest of our time in Kuftu’s yard, I mostly held her hands and hugged her.  I fought my own emotions.  Kuftu’s life has been painful.  She undoubtedly has more pain ahead of her as she navigates the adolescent years alone.

Yesterday, I saw Kuftu again, and again I held onto her and told her how precious she is.  I gave her the only Good News that I have, and told her that I will not forget her.  I won’t.  I can’t do much for Kuftu, but I have a God who can do everything for her.  He can make Himself known to her and heal her broken heart.  He can even bring a family to her so that she can know the love of parents.  Until then, I wait and I pray.

For the 48 hours that I have known Kuftu, I have prayed for her ceaselessly, with the sort of intensity I pray for my own children.  Jesus, save her.  Write your name on her heart.  Take her burdens and give her rest.  Show her the tenderness of your love.  God, do not leave this precious girl.

Praise be to God.  He is the greatest hope that I have, and the greatest hope for Kuftu too.

“But the LORD sits enthroned forever; he has established his throne for justice, and he judges the world with righteousness; he judges the peoples with uprightness.

The LORD is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.  And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you.”

Psalm 9:7-10


  1. I’m writing down her name to add to my prayer list. How much we have and how much we take for granted.

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