Together We Made A Difference - 2016 in Review

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God was on the move in 2016 in our little corner of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia! Come with us for a journey in pictures as we remember, celebrate and continue to pray about what God did in and through The Forsaken Children and friends like you, in 2016!

We started 2016 celebrating Metu. This young lady continues to radiate the hope she did one year ago. She amazed us a month ago when she boldly stood before 10 boys about to be restored to their families and gave her testimony. She shared how she, like them, had lived on the streets, indulging in the freedoms found there. BUT, her story changed because of God, Onesimus, TFC, and many of you. Way to Go Metu! We celebrate you as we begin 2017.

There is always a good reason to celebrate these two, Beziyu and Nati. This brother and sister spent many of their formative years wandering the streets of Addis Ababa. We celebrated Beziyu and Nati last February and are thrilled to say they both continue to be the strong and resilient children they were then. We are proud of you, Beziyu and Nati. We pray that 2017 can be a year of continued restoration for both of you.

Last March we highlighted a training to many of the parents we minister to through the SAFE Project. These parents represent hope for Ethiopia. Here Nardos' mom joyfully expressed how grateful she is to friends like you, who provide the means to rebuild their families. We celebrate Nardos' mom and all the other parents involved in our SAFE Project today as we step into another year of serving and learning from them.

In April, 2016 we were privileged to welcome more than 250 women, children and men from the streets to hear and experience the Gospel. The Onesimus Street Conference is worth celebrating because it is a place of healing and hope for many who have previously given up on any other life than one on the streets. As God changes hearts, we see many leave the streets for good. Over 30 people have been reunified with families they left years before after hearing about and embracing Jesus.

We may be biased, but we think Berikut (young man in the black bow tie) is pretty amazing. We celebrated him in May and continue to do so today! His name means "blessing" and that he is. You would never now that he spent much of his young life on the streets. He is now in 8th grade and loves singing, drama, and of course, soccer. Berikut, thank you for being a blessing to us everyday of 2016. We pray 2017 will continue to shape you into the blessing you were created to be.

Last June we introduced you to Amon. This young man lived on the streets for many years. He came to the Onesimus Street Conference in 2015 to simply make fun of the event and to get some free food. Well, that day God called him by name and EVERYTHING changed. He had multiple addictions, all of which God delivered him from that day. Now, Amon is part of our Drop In Center team. He is able to truly understand the children we minister to because he has been there. We celebrate Amon and how God uses us despite where we came from!

Every summer we are blessed by Central Church's investment in our on the ground ministry in Ethiopia. Since 2009 Central church has been our partner, sending teams to minister to the amazing children we exist for. In July, 2016 Kelly Dawson led the Central team, celebrating her 7th year partnering with TFC on the ground in Ethiopia. So, today we celebrate partnership. Without partners we could not be a part of sharing lasting hope with the children and families of Ethiopia.

In August we celebrated a successful end to the school year in Addis Ababa. This pic of Tigist receiving her reward for performing so well in school is priceless. Why? Because the gift giver is her father. We celebrate Tigist and the fact that she has a dad who cares deeply for her.

How can we not celebrate our wonderful team on the ground in Ethiopia. Here is a pic we shared of our Ethiopian team in September. These men and women are the hands and feet of Jesus. Thank you team!

In October our new Executive Director, Kelly McGugan visited our Ethiopian director, Nega Meaza and the team there. We are thrilled to be under the leadership of these two men who care so deeply for each other and for the street children of Ethiopia. May God bless you both in 2017!

In November we shared this picture of youth surviving on the streets. The man in the blue shirt - he's the one talking with his hands - is one of our team, Amon. Today we want to celebrate Amon and our other team members who go into places most of us would run from. We also celebrate the street children of Addis Ababa. These boys and girls are full of gifts and we are extremely blessed to be able to know these children.

You may remember Kenela, because we just shared his pic with you in December. Praise God that this young man was restored to his family (after being away for 4 years) just a few weeks back. Kenela's story is the perfect way to end our year in review, because he represents the children we serve and the outcome we strive for... He was RESCUED from the streets; He has been RESTORED to his family; We are diligently working to REBUILD aspects of his family that pushed him to leave home years ago. We celebrate Kenela and the future he has because of our work together.

These beautiful stories are possible because friends like you are willing to #MakeADifference through financial and prayer support. THANK YOU for an amazing 2016

Rescue, Restore Rebuild - Full to Overflowing!

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A special word of hope in this new year, from The Forsaken Children's Co-Founders, Joe and Karyn Bridges...

As we start 2017, our hearts are full to overflowing!

You see, over the past 3 months we have had the privilege to RESCUE, with our wonderful Ethiopian team, 10 boys from the streets. This was the 13th group of boys to work with.  Day after day we worried about those who didn’t come to the center, we did internal summersaults when a missing child returned, and we prayed that each boy would be willing to do the hard heart work necessary to GO home and STAY there in the family God intended for them.

Just this week God started the process of RESTORING these boys to their families.

I (Joe) got to go with my sweet friend, Frazier, to find his mom. Kanu, a key part of our Ethiopian team, gracefully and skillfully lead us through this process and started to REBUILD this family that, believe me, has absorbed more than its share of blows from the enemy.

Here we are at Frazier's reunification with his mother.

Now, the work continues for all of us. Frazier, and his 9 friends, need our ongoing care and encouragement this new year. We have an obligation to continue to REBUILD these families that have cracks in their foundations. Karyn and I are all in this New Year! I hope each of you are with us.

Thank you for praying with us through every hardship and every victory in 2016. Happy New Year!

-Joe & Karyn

Hope in a Plastic House

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Hope does live in Ethiopia.  It’s in Sara’s 1-room plastic house. This just in from our Field Director, Joe Bridges - it is an important story where we see what it looks like to help children (and their families) SURVIVE and THRIVE.

"I got to visit Sara and her mom the other day and sat in awe as her sweet mom described how she holds her precious family together in the midst of debilitating poverty.

'Where would my children go if I did not care for them?  I am all they have," she explained.  As I listened, I thought of the children I’ve recently come into contact with who, despite having adequate resources at home, were still on the streets.  You see, street life has become a cultural phenomenon that now seems to attract some that would seem to have no reason to be on the streets (obviously reasons are there and are deeper than the catch-all, poverty, but that’s for another blog).

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Sara and her younger brother Abduselum, come home every night to a home made of plastic.  All their worldly posessions stuck in crevices here and there.  Do you think come home for this?  No - they come home for a mom who is committed to them; a mom who has been and is consistently a part of their lives.  Sara, Abduselum and their mom’s hope is not found in things, but rather in each other.  We can learn a lot from them."

Sara and Abduselum are beneficiaries of TFC/Onesimus.  They are in school and still in their home because of the work of our Ethiopian team, and it's ongoing help.  Rescue, Restore Rebuild - this process = LASTING HOPE in Ethiopia.

Can you give, this holiday season to our team on the front lines fighting poverty for families like this?  Your tax-deductible gift of any size, helps our team help Sara & family SURVIVE & THRIVE! Click the link below to #MakeADifference today!

 

Chechebsah

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Thank you Karyn Bridges for this great recipe! About this Recipe: Chechebsah

"If you’ve been to Ethiopia or have Ethiopian friends in your country then you’ve probably shared a meal or two. You’ve likely had lunch or dinner together and most definitely have shared a conversation over coffee. But what do Ethiopians eat for breakfast? Ethiopians eat a variety of food for breakfast including scrambled eggs full of onions, tomatoes and hot peppers, fir fir (injera pieces mixed with Berbere), pasta with sauce, bread and of course tea or coffee with sugar - among other things. However, Chechebsah, a traditional Ethiopian breakfast food, is a family favorite in our house. Rosa, a friend and former house worker for both Ethiopian Bridges’ families, taught Jessica how to prepare the dish and Jessica has since passed it on to me. It may seem a little complicated but it really is quite simple and very delicious. Give it a try and let us know how you like it."

Ingredients: 4 cups of flour 3 cups of water ½ cup of oil 1 T of Berbere ¼ to ½ cup of honey Salt A Skillet A pot

Directions: Place 4 cups of flour in a large bowl. Add 3 cups of water and mix together - lumps are okay. Heat a skillet over medium high heat. (If using a stainless or cast iron skillet then add a little oil to keep the batter from sticking. If using a non-stick skillet then there is no need for oil.)

Place approximately ½ cup of batter on the skillet and spread it into a circle. Make the batter thinner than a pancake but not as thin as a tortilla. You can use a fork or a spoon to spread the batter BUT a baking spatula works best.

Flip the “tortilla” thingies a couple of times. The batter should make about 5 – 6 “tortilla” thingies. The last “tortilla” thingy may be considerably smaller than the others. That is no problem. Just use all the batter. Tear the “tortillas” into bite sized pieces and set aside.

In large pot, heat ½ cup of oil over medium high heat for about 5 minutes. Add 1 T of Berbere (more or less depending on how spicy you prefer) to the oil. Then add ¼ to ½ cup of honey to the oil. Whisk together well and cook approximately one minute. It should be bubbly.

Then, add the “tortilla” pieces to the oil, Berbere, and honey and mix until well coated. Sprinkle with salt and mix well again. Cook until all the oil is cooked off from the bottom of the pan.

You can also dip the pieces in additional honey or yogurt for a tasty treat.

ENJOY!

To learn more about Ethiopian cooking, recipes, or food talk in general from Karyn, follow our blog.

Worth 1000 Words

Worth 1000 Words

Thank you for reading along with my blog posts over this past week. My trip to Ethiopia has brought up many questions and challenges in my life, and I’m praying that these questions change the trajectory of my life and the life of my family. I’ll be forever grateful for the impact that this trip has had on me,

Let it sink in

Let it sink in

Before the kids are ten feet away, I notice one little boy’s face is glistening, as if it’s soaking wet. At five feet away, I begin to smell the sharp scent of paint thinner and can see that his eyes are glossed over.

But the HOPE is here.

But the HOPE is here.

This place is amazing. Even in unrest, even in a national state of emergency, even in poverty, even in addiction, and even in brokenness…the best work I can come up with is amazing. But that’s all of us, right? Completely broken, but amazing in the eyes of the Father?

Prayer Points: September 2016

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Pray for a true peace throughout Ethiopia that will help turn the nation into a place where LASTING HOPE has more space to take root, grow and flourish. 

Pray for upcoming leadership meetings within Ethiopia. The Forsaken Children's new Executive Director, Kelly McGugan is traveling in October to meet with Field Director, Joe Bridges and our Ethiopian team/Onesimus leadership, Nega Maeza and others. We look forward to their time together to reconnect as brothers in Christ who are passionate about the street children and children at-risk in Ethiopia and for time to plan for the upcoming year.

Pray for safe travels and for fruitful engagement. May God lead the vision and path of our pursuits ahead!Planning has begun for 2017 ministry pursuits and partnership needs.

Please pray for the Ethiopian team/Onesimus as they work hard to understand the needs of our beneficiaries and the aspects of ministry that need to be pursued in 2017.

Pray for their plans to be rooted in the Holy Spirit and His guidance throughout the process. We are thankful that our Ethiopian team is filled with believers and pray that they seek after the Holy Spirit as they plan. Our goal is to pursue His ways and not our own.

The new school year is quickly approaching. Pray for the children of Ethiopia as they start a new year and engage in the work of their new grade. Pray specifically for The Forsaken Children beneficiaries and their schooling. Pray that the children would be able to stay focused and excel in their grade.

Prayer Points: August 2016

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This month on August 29-31, our Ethiopian Team will host a PRAYER AND FASTING PROGRAM in Addis Ababa. This will be a time for the team to intentionally look to the Lord for guidance and provision for the next steps of ministry. We know from James 5:16 that we out to pray for one another. If YOU would like to join in spirit with the team, YOU can follow in suite and fast each morning while also remembering our Ethiopian Team, Onesimus in prayer. Pray specifically for our beneficiaries and their families, the new school year beginning around September 12, and for our leadership and team on the ground in Addis Ababa. The Lord invites us to ask Him!

"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us" - Ephesians 3:20. The Forsaken Children's ANNUAL LASTING HOPE GALA is around the corner! We are super excited about all that God is going to do in and through this event. Join us in prayer for this special and important night. This event is our largest fundraiser of the year, providing essential ministry funds. It's also a wonderful night of celebrating all that the Lord has done through the ministry over the last year.

Pray for all the details that need to continue to come together to prepare for this big night. Pray for everyone that will attend - that they may be blessed by the stories and testimonies they hear and also support the ministry financially as God calls them personally.

Tickets are FREE thanks to many amazing event sponsors. Click HERE to learn more.

This month our Ethiopian team hosted a Grade Promotion Celebration for the beneficiaries. The team did an amazing job honoring high performing students and encouraging the parents of the beneficiaries. In total, there were 89 beneficiaries and their parents in attendance for this celebration. It was a wonderful time to acknowledge the work done and encourage the work ahead.

Pray for these beneficiaries as they move forward in their schooling. Pray for focus and excellence. A new school year is quickly approaching. Pray for the families as well, the parents. Pray for wisdom to "parent" well and continue to encourage pursuits of education and life off the streets. 

Grace: To Fear and Fears Relieved

Grace: To Fear and Fears Relieved

Whether you grew up “in the church” or not, these words, published in 1779 by Englishman slave trader turned abolitionist and Gospel preacher, John Newton, most likely ring familiar. This hymn is arguably the most well-known and well-loved of all liturgical tunes. With its timeless theme of redemption—something all people, at some level, long for—its universal appeal is obvious. While the entire song is packed with sucker-punch truths, for me, the beginning of the second verse is striking

Donor Spotlight - Ed & Liz Gillentine

Donor Spotlight - Ed & Liz Gillentine

“Being a part of TFC has re-centered our priorities and given us a new perspective on God as Father,” states Ed. “It’s made me realize, without God we can’t do a thing. It’s brought the scripture from Romans 6, the wages of sin is death, to life for me. It’s the stark reality of a little child dying due to our brokenness; we are all broken and I’m broken to the point when I don’t even have the answers. We all need the Lord.”

Prayer Points: Summer 2016

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In partnership with the 3rd Annual TFC #RunYourStreet5K (completed June 18-25), The Forsaken Children's Ethiopian Team hosts its annual street race for street children July 16th. Pray for all the details that must come together to prepare and complete the race in Addis Ababa. Pray for the children that will run the race. Pray that they have a beautiful opportunity to be childlike and simply enjoy the fun experience. Pray that they feel significant and loved as the TFC Ethiopian Team cheers them along the course. Pray that the street children who have not yet come to the TFC drop-in center gain an interest in the possibility of life off the streets. Pray for the future of each of the children running - pray for their salvation - that they meet Jesus in a personal way, pray for their families [known or unknown], their education, and the next steps to take. To learn more about why TFC's Ethiopian Team hosts a race in Ethiopia and/or the larger purpose behind TFC's virtual 5K, check out this blog post.

TFC Founder and current Field Director, Joe Bridges and family are in the United States visiting family and friends, following up with their sending missions agency for training, and recharging after a year and half of diligent ministry on the ground in Addis Ababa. Pray for this family. Pray for their time in the United States. Pray for fruitful relationship time with their immediate family and all the people they want and need to see. Pray for rest. Pray for their travels as they go to different locations throughout the United States during their time. Pray for the adorable kiddos, Jack, Mac, and Silas as they transition through their time in the United States. Pray for the upcoming goodbyes [see you laters] this family will have to say to their loved ones at the beginning of August as they make their way back to Ethiopia. Pray for the time Joe is able to spend with The Forsaken Children Board of Directors and staff while in Memphis, TN. Pray that the time would be fruitful and expand beyond the time of the meetings. Pray for God's guidance and provision during these times and determine any and all next steps.

Pray for Joe and Karyn's marriage, it's great but when you are doing work that the Lord is leading, the enemy is not happy and will surely attack. Pray for protection against the enemy's attacks and fruitful growth together.

Meet Zerihun. He is from a Christian family and is 13 years old. He is a 4th grade student. Zerihun was a street child and part of the most recent group of children invited by The Forsaken Children's Ethiopian team to the TFC Drop-In Center. At that time, Zerihun had stayed on the streets for 1 month.

His story is interesting, in that his reason for going to the streets was not due to some of the complicated and, honestly, justified reasons for leaving home. As he told our Ethiopian team, one day Zerihun's aunt told him not to write a letter for a girl. He became upset and went to the streets. He is now with his parents who live near to Addis Ababa [approximately 13km away]. While an easy reunification is a blessing, it is concerning that children are coming to the streets for such petty reasons. Pray for Ethiopia and the children, who step out of their doors to find a seemingly easy escape from their temporal problems at home.

"In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God."

Team Ethiopia: Second Home

Team Ethiopia: Second Home

Being new to the team, The Forsaken Children's Ethiopian Team, Onesimus seemed like complete strangers when we arrived, but leaving a week later they have all turned into family that we will never forget. One of the final statements made in the closing ceremony was that we were not leaving, but rather returning to our first home and we would be back to our second home, Ethiopia, soon. All the tears and laughter shared on this trip have made it the most unforgettable week.