Pure – Just the Way I Like It…

by Jacodien

Pure—that is the way I like my chocolate. So much better than milk or white. All that added milk or even leaving out all the cocoa takes away the best of it. This week, here in Ethiopia, I have gotten a taste of purity. Not the diluted 55% kind you find in our stores. But the real stuff. Fully pure.

It started right away on day one. The drive from Addis Ababa to Zeway.

No big buildings (the few that did exist were under construction with big wooden scaffolding meters and meters high). No chain stores with advertisements screaming at you on every street corner.

Just purity. Earthiness.jacodien photo

With colors that talk, but don’t scream.

People, the way they are. Full of passion? They sing it out. Not softly, somewhere where nobody sees them, but full and uninhibited. Pure.

Desperate and without hope? They won’t conceal it in a dark corner, but display it, on the middle of the street.

Pure. Real.

No distractions. No interruptions. No hiding. No dilution.

Even the coffee is pure. Kind of like espresso, the Ethiopian way. Flavored, the same way they decorate the houses and streets, with colors that talk, but don’t scream.

There is no need to scream.
Because there are no distractions which need to be overcome. No cars which take up the road. No lights which pollute the dark. No shame which is disguised.

Oh yes, there is brokenness. Sorrow. Pain. Grief. Lives with deep sadness and despair.

Just like there is laughter. And good jokes. Hugs. Love. Joy and Thankfulness.

Ethiopia, as I have gotten to know it this week, is pure. Just the way I like it.
There is no need to seek, to scream, to jump out of the way. Pure and raw.

That is precisely the only reason I can think of why the work of the strongest enemy, the greatest created being, Satan, is so pure and visible here.

Because here there is nothing that distracts men. Nothing men hide behind. Satan has to work here. Pure and real. To reach his goal.

Yes, it is difficult. To see the fight. But here, just because of the lack of distractions, because the people don’t get overwhelmed by TV programs, by blinking billboards, too long schooldays and speeding cars. Because of that it is tangible to discern God’s voice. To hear His word. To feel His touch.

Life is earthy. Pure.
Not perfect. There is still spiritual war going on. Real, tangible, pure, raw and hard.
All the more it speaks of the confidence that we have as children of Father God, siblings of Jesus. We do not fight for victory. But fight from victory. In Christ’s power we are invincible.

So with our breastplate on and belt around our middle, our sandals on our feet and helmet on our head (which in our Ethiopian attire looks like this) we go on our way.

Enjoying the purity of all our precious new friends—their coffee and their tears and their hugs.

Pure. Just the way I like it…

I Finally Arrived

by Melissa

I have finally arrived in Africa.  The continent I’ve had a longing for.   I didn’t know what to expect and I wasn’t sure what God’s purpose was in choosing me to go on this trip.  I still don’t know my purpose but in one day, I have fallen in love with Ethiopia and it’s people and culture.

My first day was more of a dream.  It didn’t feel real and yet I know my heart and soul have been changed forever.  We started off the day worshipping with the Food for the Hungry (FH) staff.  These men and women have dedicated their lives to helping their people, which is why Hope in Ethiopia (our organization) has partnered with them.  They are a living day example of what James was talking about in James 1:27…”Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this:  to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”  This wasn’t a metaphor.  Orphans have no one to protect or guide them.  And widows lose all the benefits of their husbands.  In this culture, widows and orphans are outcasts.  When you add HIV to that equation, they become completely isolated.  One mother with 5 kids told us that she’s had to move 5 times in the last 2 years because one place would not let her family use the communal water pump.  Another place would not let her family use the communal bathroom.  There is always a reason to ostracize them.   Food for the Hungry and Hope in Ethiopia go against these cultural prejudices by loving each family despite their circumstances.  FH counsels all of these children and their mothers.  They help carry their burdens…burdens that we in the US would probably not be able to handle.  FH helps these families learn how to sustain themselves and build a future.  It is not a handout.  It IS ongoing unconditional love, financial support and guidance for the “least of these”.  It is what Jesus commanded us to do.  I look forward to the day I meet these FH workers in heaven where they can share all of their stories of triumph with me.

 

Gibril 2015Our first visit was with the K. family, which consists of 5 siblings.  These children have no parents and are the true definition of a child headed household.  Four of these siblings live together in a one room “house” they rent.  This room is the size of my bathroom.  There are two mattresses on the floor, neatly made.  And one small desk that holds their 6 plates, 4 cups, cooking utensils and food containers.  The floor is a dirt floor covered by what I would call cabinet liners and a rug.  They own nothing. The oldest brother is now 16 and the middle brother is 14.  When the boys were 7 and 5, their parents separated.  Their dad took the boys to another town and their mom kept the three girls in Zeway (the girls are currently 13, 10 and 5).  Their dad hired the boys out as cattle herders for $25/year which was extremely hard labor for them and they could not attend school.  One day while the boys were washing their clothes in the river, their mom came to them and they ran away with her back to Zeway.  Soon after, their mother became sick with diabetes.  She died in 2010 and the five kids were left on their own.  They had a grandmother but she was too poor to take them in.  However, she did take in the youngest child as she was still a baby (all kids three years old and under have to go to an orphanage) with the intention to send her to her siblings when she turned five.  She turned five this year, however, the grandmother is still taking care of her.  She gets to visit with her siblings often and is still part of their family.  The local church heard about their mother’s death and helped them out until FH entered the picture.   With the FH child headed household program, these kids are able to go to school because FH pays for their school supplies.  They are able to have shelter because FH pays their rent and utilities and water bills.  They are able to start the healing process of losing their mother by attending the weekly grief and counseling sessions where all the kids come together to share their stories and build a safe and understanding community.  Their FH social worker has also gone above and beyond all job requirements.  He and his wife have loved these kids as their own.  They moved the kids so they would be closer to his family.  His wife would get up at 4:30 am to teach the boys how to make bread.  The boys have now taught their sisters.   When I met these kids, they were full of joy.  They did not feel sorry for themselves or hopeless.  And all of this is because of Jesus.  They love Him with all their hearts and know that He is with them every second of every day.  They find their hope, the only true hope that lasts, in Him.  The oldest brother wants to be a petty trader, or salesman, and work for himself.  The middle brother wants to be a scientist and do research.  The two older girls love science.  This family is such an inspiration to me. They keep each other safe and hold each other accountable.  They all contribute to the family in their own special way by cooking, running errands, cleaning the house, washing clothes and dishes.  Surviving is a daily struggle for them yet they do it in such grace because of the grace that Jesus has bestowed amongst them.

Then we went to visit B.  She is 19 and lives alone.

b 2015When the Hope in Ethiopia team visited her two years ago, they said she cried the whole time and never smiled.  In two years, B is smiling.  She is so grateful for the FH program as she says that the grief and counseling sessions have helped her start healing by allowing her to connect with other children and hear their stories.  She knows now that she doesn’t have the worst life as she previously thought.  B’s mother died while working as a house maid when B was 8.  She was hanging clothes on a clothesline when an electric wire came in contact with her and she was electrocuted.  B went to live with her aunt.  At this point, B was a part of the FH child sponsorship program, however, the aunt was keeping B’s ration

s to herself, refused her to go to school and treated B badly.  At one point, B contemplated suicide.  She eventually ran away from her aunt and a very poor woman with her own children to take care of took her in.  This woman was a Christian and insisted B go to church with her.  B was an Orthodox Christian and didn’t want to have anything to do with a relationship with Jesus but she went.  For a while, she fought back spiritually.  B met a social worker from FH who convinced her to join the child headed household program (which would mean she would have to leave this woman’s home as you can’t be a part of this program if you live with an adult who can help support you).  This social worker and B became like family and he counseled her as if she were his daughter.  After a while, B thought about all the good people in her life (her social worker, the poor woman) and realized they were all Christians and loved her in a way no one else had.  So she gave her life to Jesus and now wants to give back to others all that she has been given.  B used to wonder why she didn’t die with her mother, however, now she sees hope and a purpose for her life that she has never seen before.   Her smile says it all.

This is just a glimpse of these amazing survivors…we are so lucky to have met these wonderful, generous people and to have shared their lives with them.

Light in the Darkness — by Kristina Vandiver

IMG_6044

“The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” — John 1:5

As we entered this one-room mud hut in Ethiopia, the first thing we noticed was the absence of light. The one window was tightly shut, and there was no lamp to illuminate the room. Then we noticed the woman lying on a straw pallet quietly moaning in pain. As soon as we saw her, we stopped, bumping into one another, dumb in stupor. We’d come to visit her and the little boy, her son, who was playing outside. But, how do you visit the dying when you thought you were going to visit with the living? As we fumbled through the darkness, our translator took over. “I will ask her how we can pray for her. It is not appropriate to ask other questions at this time.”  Our cameras were quietly put away.

This was one of my first “home visits” with the Hope in Ethiopia partnership — a collaboration between Food for the Hungry, local Ethiopian congregations, and our home church in Austin, Texas. The AIDS pandemic has created a generation of orphans in the world’s second largest continent. In years past, grandparents and aunts & uncles would care for these children, but many of those potential caregivers have died as well. For those caregivers who remain, there are just too many children and not enough resources to care for them all. The result: children living alone, trying to act as grown-ups as they grow up. These young ones are incredibly vulnerable to malnutrition, disease, exploitation of the cruelest kind, and the fate of living in an unbroken state of extreme poverty. Our cross-Atlantic partnership tries to catch these little ones in a safety net of love, protection, and grace.

We’d traveled halfway around the world to visit these children and children who had parents still battling this ravaging disease. The woman lying on the floor answered our translator’s question by saying that she was worried about what would happen to her boy if she were to die. She wondered how she could pay her $20 renEthiopia 2014 027t every month when she was too sick to work. She was worried…and she began to weep. By this time, the little boy had entered the room, and as his mother wept, he curled his little body up next to her feet and began to weep with her. After a quiet pause, we asked if we could pray over her. With her permission, we gently laid hands on her frail frame and began to pray. As we prayed, the darkness that seemed to be so overwhelming was inched out by the one true Light. He was there, before us, but it was prayer that opened our eyes to see Him.

Ephesians 6 tells us that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” And 1 John 4:4 reminds us that “the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” Why?  Because only Jesus has secured victory over death and darkness on our behalf.  There are times when the darkness can seem overwhelming, crushing even. But Paul encourages us, as he did the people of Corinth, with these words:

Copy of Ethiopia 2014 066“Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” 

I want to encourage you not to give up.  We can confidently fight the darkness wherever God has placed us, because He IS the light.

To help us fight for the children and widows of Zeway through prayer, financial support, advocacy, or encouragement, please visit the rest of this site.

 

MEET KEBEDE

Kebede, front left, kneeling, with the team and other FH staff at site of the new office and library

Kebede, front left, kneeling, with team members and FH staff at site of the new office and library

On Sunday, our team returned home from a joy-filled trip to Ethiopia, where we met with orphans and single parents with HIV/AIDS, whom this ministry sponsors.  We also spent time with the local social workers employed by Food for the Hungry, who regularly look after them.  Travel in a foreign country – especially in rural Africa – presents Americans with unique thrills and challenges.  Our guide through all of these was Kebede Workineh Lule, who manages Marketing and Communications for Food for the Hungry Ethiopia.   We were very attached to his predecessor, Markos, and when we learned Markos was not to be our guide for this trip, I lamented.  Markos responded by saying simply, “Kebede is a very godly man.”  But I struggled to trust God that this new person could take care of a team from Grace CC as well as Markos had.

So, still apprehensive, we landed in Addis Ababa and met Kebede at the airport.  He did many things to relieve our fears and help with our cultural awkwardness.  He created an  in-country “survival guide” for our team, told us what we could safely eat, and tirelessly served as translator.  He used humor and hugs to quickly establish connections with the orphans we visited.   He negotiated the price of our souvenirs and helped us find bottled water and bathrooms.  He even taught us to write our names in Amharic.

But none of those things compared to the way Kebede inspired us spiritually.  Crushingly poor as a child, Kebede grew up very faithful to the national Orthodox church.  One day, his sister had a transforming encounter with the living Christ, and told him she had “found Jesus”.  Soon Kebede was determined to “find” Jesus as well, searching constantly for something more than ritual.  Eventually Kebede came to faith in Christ at the age of 17, during the dark period of the communist Derg regime in Ethiopia.

Kebede translating Tara's presentation of the gospel bracelets

Kebede translating Tara’s presentation of the gospel bracelets

Six months later, he was imprisoned and tortured for his new faith and his refusal to violate the Bible at communist youth meetings.  For more than a year, he suffered physical and emotional abuse, cut off from his family and education.  After his release, he tried to re-enter school, but later was imprisoned yet again.  Unwilling to compromise his faith, Kebede paid a price that few of us in the west ever dream of.   But having Jesus meant that nothing could break him or defeat him permanently.

Today Kebede is a well-educated, happy, spirit-filled family man with a full life.  His early years of suffering inform everything he does, whether it’s explaining to an orphan that he, too, went hungry and knows the child’s pain, or celebrating the progress his beloved Ethiopia is making.  And, most of all, Kebede is “not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes.” His faith lived out before the orphans and widows inspired us.

I want to leave you with one last portrait of our new friend.  On our first full day in Ziway, we all sat down to lunch at the hotel and started practicing songs we thought we might sing at worship with the FH social workers.  Kebede then sang a short worship song in Amharic.  A few minutes later, Kebede left the table.  An Ethiopian man had been sitting on the other side of the window, trying to drown his sorrows in beer, when he heard Kebede’s song.  He asked Kebede to come outside and explain God to him, because he had terrible problems with his in-laws, and was planning to go immediately to the lake and drown himself.  Kebede patiently encouraged and exhorted this man with the gospel, and finally prayed over him, telling him to come back any time that week to speak some more.  Here is a photo of that moment.

Kebede praying

The desperate man whom Kebede counseled laid his own hands on Kebede’s head to bless him, too, for saving him from destroying himself.  All of us from Hope in Ethiopia wish to pray blessings over Kebede as well.  Thanks be to God for His provision of godly men and women — Kebede, every FH social worker, nurse, staff member, driver, architect, and food distributor — who stand with us to care for orphans and widows in their distress in Ziway.

With love,

Ellen, Will, Tara, Scott, Rebecca, Joel, Kristina and Sherry

Showing Up and Laying it Down

We have an amazing team heading to Zeway on Friday.  I say that because each of them is uniquely equipped and passionate for what we’re going to do as we visit orphaned kids and widows.  Six of the 8 team members are going for the first time.  We asked Joel and Kristina Vandiver to share some thoughts on why they are following God’s call to Ethiopia.

FROM KRISTINA:

JKVandiverBoth of our mothers have died. Joel’s mom died when he was 17 of ovarian cancer. My mom died of a prescription drug overdose when I was 22. It follows that we both have a big space in our hearts for the motherless.

If you listen to Joel give his testimony, he will mention his mother’s death. He’ll also mention David, the youth intern, who came day after day after day to sit with him in his grief. David didn’t say anything, he didn’t do anything, he didn’t bring anything, he just showed up.

If you hear me give my testimony, I will also tell you of my mother’s death. And, I’ll tell you about  Callie, my best friend, sitting next to me as I cried. I’ll tell you that she let me give voice to my anger over the loss. She said nothing, did nothing, brought nothing. She just showed up.

The Good News is that God showed up. In the flesh. The good news still is that He continues to show up. On the good days. On the bad days. On the in-between days. He is a show-up kind of God.

When we visit the orphans of Zeway, we will show up. There will be nothing that we can do, nothing that we can say, nothing that we can bring to undo the losses they’ve experienced. But, we can listen to them tell their stories. We can sit with them. We can enter into their anger over the injustice of their situation. We can hold their hands and cry with them. We can, by our mere presence, tell them that they are worth showing up for.

It’s our prayer that our presence will reveal Christ’s presence. For the kiddos who know Christ, may it be a powerful reminder that He has not left them, nor forgotten them. For the kiddos who do not yet know this incarnational God of ours, may it give them a glimpse of the One who shows up for them every day.

Blessed is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles so that we may be able to comfort those experiencing any trouble with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.           2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NET)

FROM JOEL:

Zeway Trip 2011 052 You’ve heard it all before.  “I’m going to Africa to see how much I have here in the States.”  For me this true, but it runs deeper than that.  I don’t just want to see how much stuff I live with that I think I can’t live without, but I want to see what’s in my heart that I think I deserve, but don’t.  I want to be rid of the latter without neglecting the former.

It’s simple and it’s complicated.  It’s self-entitlement.  What is that, you ask?  Well, it’s saying, “I’m entitled to this or that because I am such and such.”  Yeah, that’s right, I have the right…I must have what I have because of some innate qualities within myself, aside from anyone or anything else.  I look back over my life with astonishment at what I thought I deserved.  This all came to a head in college when I thought I deserved to be a leader.  And, it’s precisely when you think you deserve to be a leader that you lose the right to be one.  Yes, this lesson is easy for me to see now that 10 years have passed.  But, what is in me now that is as obvious to God, but that I don’t see?  What lessons do I still have to learn?012

“For by the grace given me I say to every one of you:  Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.”  Romans 12:3

One right, though, remains clear:  “the right to remain silent.”  I keep this one close by, not because of the law, but because “Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue.” -Proverbs 17:28

Do I have the right?  Sure, I have the right — to lay down my life and deny myself“If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” — Matthew 15:24    A quick search on the antonyms of entitlement bring me to:  disqualification, ineligibility, prohibition, refusal, withholding.  Yes!  That’s it!

“But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.  What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.  I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness that is my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ – the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.  I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.”  Philippians 3:7-11

Did you hear that?  Rubbish.  I want all the things I hold dear that I shouldn’t to be counted as rubbish.  That’s a reason to go.

“Do not love the world or anything in the world.  If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”  1 John 2:15

What is the true antidote to self-entitlement?   Gratitude.  Thanksgiving.  Sacrifice.

Zeway Trip 2011 010

Will You Go to Africa? by Scott Garner

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What in the world am I doing?

Zeway June 2012 108By Ellen Tuthill

Soon I’ll travel to Ethiopia for the 3rd time to visit orphans, widows, and a few widowers, in Zeway.  Every trip has felt so different.  But every time, I find that my fears about my health and safety, and that of our children while we’re gone, prompt me to ask the same question:  What in the world am I doing?  Am I crazy to give up a week of my life, risk illness (I got quite sick last time) and my safety, to travel to a developing country and visit strangers — many of whom are suffering with HIV?

UNICEF says that double orphans in Ethiopia now number 4,500,000.  In a country of 85-90 million, that means that minors with both parents dead comprise more than 5% of the population.   For comparison’s sake, the U.S. government reports that there are 115,000 children waiting and available for adoption here at home (though the total number of kids in foster care in the U.S. is over 400,000).  So orphans and non-orphaned kids in foster care in the U.S. make up about .001% of our population.

Obviously, every orphan is in crisis and deserves care, no matter where they live.  In our country, the government has a contract with society to facilitate care for orphans and other children in unsafe families. This is not the case in Ethiopia.  But even if it were, could an impoverished nation afford to provide appropriate care and oversight of 4.5 million children, many of whom have serious medical conditions due to HIV?  Could any government actually address the deep psychological, emotional and spiritual needs of a child who has lost everything — much less millions of them?

There isn’t anything I can doMarch 2014 Blog post - pic with thumbs to solve the crisis in Ethiopia.  There is not a silver bullet to stop the spread of HIV or immediately find permanent, loving homes for 4.5 million kids.  But this is where we have to employ the “starfish” principle.  Years ago, my friend Heather shared with me a story about a man walking along the shore, picking up stranded starfish and throwing them back into the ocean to save them.  Another man sees this, and says, “What a waste of time!  Your efforts are insignificant given how many starfish are sitting on this beach, and all the beaches of the world.  What you’re doing can’t possibly matter!”  The first man ponders the starfish in his hand, then throws it back into the water.  “It matters to this one,” he replies, and goes on with his work.

Isn’t that how all of the big problems in the world must be approached?  One life at a time?  Not everyone wants to, or even can, miss work and household duties, raise money, get all their shots, and go to a really foreign place to put their arms around orphans and widows for a week.  But I can, and God and I take pleasure in it, so I do.  It could be that my presence in Zeway seems insignificant or foolish to everyone else, but I know that it matters to this one, and this one, and this one.  I have cried with them, prayed with them, and heard their stories of hope after tremendous loss.  In turn, they have changed my view of poverty, the oppressed, and the dying, and allowed me into their lives.  They aren’t statistics; they are real kids.  They have names, attached to stories, attached to memories, and we’d love to share those with you.  We hope you’ll explore this site for stories of transformation, both here and there.

To find out how you can make a difference to over 130 orphans in Zeway, visit here: http://hopeinethiopia.org/get-involved/

This is a Hope in Ethiopia

There is a Hope in Ethiopia and I witnessed it today.  My first 12 hours in Ethiopia brought me to the front row of an Ethiopian church service – an experience I couldn’t have imagined or will never be fully able to explain.  Sitting on the floor in the front of the service were the sweet, hope filled faces of children.  Singing, chanting, dancing, playing – just being kids, kids filled with hope.  As I watched them, moving, whispering, poking their friends, giggling, and squirming, I simply saw my own boys.  How similar but a world apart, literally, both filled with the same hope and love of Christ.  I will never forget the music ringing in my ears and the kids dancing and jumping all around me.  The joy and pure abandonment they had – from young toddlers to teenagers – all there to worship the One True God as a family in Christ.  And, I am part of the same family with them.

Tomorrow I set out on my first visit to an orphan’s home.  An orphan whose responsibility as head of the household – caring and providing for their younger siblings – weighs heavily on them.  I will be honored to meet these children of God.  To tell them of the love I have for them, but, more importantly, the love God has for them – how He values their life and has a divine purpose for them.  Their purpose is to bring glory to God and continue to grow strong the Hope in Ethiopia.

Meeting God on the Other Side of the World

I’ve been out of the country many times in my life with adoptions or traveling because of Matt’s work or leading short-term trips.  I love to go places because I see God’s character in a whole new way when I am traveling.  Even when other people travel, like the trip team in Ethiopia now, I get giddy (and a bit jealous) of the adventures they will encounter and the closeness to God they will feel.

The orphans and widows of Zeway: You can be a part of the story of how God opens the skies for them.

After a short term trip, people will often long to return to the country they traveled.  They long to return because of the person they are in the foreign country – perhaps more compassionate or kind. Perhaps more aware of how their experiences shape them.  They long to return because they believe God moves more in other countries, and they get to see His work first-hand.

I have had to consider this: Does God move more in other countries than this one?  Is He more alive and working in other places?  Why do I see God’s character more when I go somewhere?

I believe this to be true:  God is the same here and there and everywhere. He does not change.  It is me who changes in a different place.  It is me who is stripped of my comforts and my schedule and my control and  suddenly, all those veils are lifted from my eyes and I do see the character of God in truer color.  He does not change.  I just see him in high definition.

But I do not believe that seeing God in high definition is limited to traveling to another country.  God makes it much simpler than that. It is not the location that causes me to feel God’s presence and character.  It is getting involved in the lives of the least of these that can cause me to know God.

There is the song by Tenth Avenue North and the chorus is “And He breaks open the skies to save those who cry out His name”.  Everyone should be involved in the life of someone whom the Lord has broken open the skies to save.

That doesn’t mean traveling in order to be involved. Getting involved in the life of someone who needs rescue can be done here in Austin through prayer.  You don’t need to fly to Ethiopia to be a part of opening the skies for someone, and you don’t need to fly to Ethiopia to see the full character of God.

Through this unique community-to-community partnership, you can choose an orphan, widow or family to pray for. Through consistent prayer for the least of these, you can see God working in their lives and your own. You can feel God’s compassion and kindness. You can be overwhelmed with His desire for justice and understand why He asks us to “visit” orphans and widows. You can understand his sovereignty over all things more, and you can find joy and hope in Him.  And you never have to pack a suitcase.

If you would like a prayer card and updates on the orphans and widows, please contact us, and we’ll send you more information and a picture of a child or family to pray for.

You don’t have to go anywhere to meet God He is right where you are.

No One Could Do That

By Sandy Burton

Most would say parenting is challenging.  The rest just haven’t been parents yet.  Reflect for a moment on how much of your life is spent doing “parenting things”.  Really reflect.  If you have more than one child, think of how you handle each child differently, because each is unique.  Maybe you have a special needs child.  What thoughts come to mind?  Overwhelming? Tiring?  Rewarding?

Now, imagine if you had 30 or 40 children, in different houses, in different towns.  And your children had all been through trauma after trauma.   You found them alone with no parents, the older ones caring for the younger ones, literally just trying not to die.  Some are ill. All are afraid.  Many of them have watched as their parents suffered and died.  And now they are all yours.  What thoughts come to mind?  No one could do that!  Impossible?    Rewarding?

Tilahun, Abduerhman, Tsehaye, Beza, Abdulfeta are those people for our orphans. That is their life and ministry with Hope in Ethiopia.  As an answer to prayer, members from the Zeway area churches now help when they can. These precious people are literally the on-site, 24-7-365 caregivers for the children and HIV+ widows in these places where God has brought our attention.  And, they have their own families and lives!  What thoughts come to mind?  Painful?  Exhausting?  Rewarding?

When Grace goes to walk alongside the caretakers in Zeway, we bring construction paper photo pages to give to the kids – as encouragement and so they know what our families look like.  This is our way of giving faces to those who pray for them, just as we have the faces and stories of them in our prayer books that we distribute.

I made some from my son and I, but felt strongly about creating pages to give as encouragement for the staff and workers.  They were made with Hebrews 12:1-3 in English and Amharic, the Ethiopian language.  I wanted these “parents” to know God and many cheer them on in His mighty power.  However, in handing them out on the last day, after all we had seen, it felt like offering an umbrella in a hurricane.  I had seen their exhaustion, felt their pain as they hurt with the kids, and cried at the explosive joy and enormous hugs that came from the kids when the staff and we visited.  Tilahun said to me, “You see?  It’s all worth it and God is happy.”   God’s word does NOT return void.
I came home with a deep passion to pray and encourage you to pray for these “parents”. Would you please join me?  Join me in praying and giving of your heart of prayer and resources to keep these precious people able to continue this work.   God uses whatever you give to make the impossible possible and I pray with all my heart that you feel the deep reward.   I pray for you, that God open His storehouses for you that you may see His heart doing the impossible.  Thank you!