But the HOPE is here.

Brent Kee with B+R Photography out of Nashville, TN. Brent is a self-taught photographer who specializes in family and senior portraiture. He discovered a passion for photography after purchasing a fancy-schmancy camera to take pictures of his first son, Fisher. Brent has learned the art of photography and post-processing through practice, research, and intense sessions of osmosis. Brent loves Jesus and has a heart for orphans. This is Brent's first trip to Ethiopia and he is working this week to capture Ethiopia and the ministry of The Forsaken Children from a first time perspective.

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.

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 word I can come up with is amazing. But that’s all of us, right? Completely broken, but amazing in the eyes of the Father? This is my first trip to Ethiopia. Like me, you probably know this country foremost as one of THE countries from which Americans adopt. If you know anything else, you know the reason behind this is an extreme orphan crisis, government unrest, tribal feuding, and countless other social difficulties. And like me, that’s probably the extent of your knowledge. That’s okay, I’ll help you out. The fun stuff first:

Ethiopia fun stuff . . . you most definitely will be greeted with an Ethiopian “bro-hug”, whether you want it or not. Lean in and take it.

If you enter a new place, a room, or approach any citizen on the street, you most definitely will be greeted with an Ethiopian “bro-hug”, whether you want it or not. Lean in and take it.

Every resident here can outdrive you, me, and Mario Andretti. With no wrecks. In the most insane traffic I’ve ever seen. With their eyes closed.

Ethiopian kids are cute. And I’m professionally a child photographer, so my opinion matters on this.

See bullet 3.

As an outsider, it was nearly impossible for me to imagine that there could be such incredible HOPE surrounded by such encompassing DARKNESS. DARKNESS which is manifested in pre-teen and teen addiction, homelessness, and crime. But the HOPE is here. I promise. Here is my proof:[

The HOPE is found in people . . . the people who are striving to RESCUE, RESTORE, and REBUILD the lives of others who are stuck in the hopeless situations of this nation. It’s difficult to describe the love, respect, and selflessness I have experienced during my first 48ish hours in this country. The Forsaken Children and Onesimus staff have shown love to me, love to each other, and (most importantly) love to the unlovable. I have shared hugs, genuine smiles, and explosive laughter with these people. I have listened in as the leaders of these organizations discuss the vision for the future of reaching kids. And I have seen that vision put into action by The Forsaken Children and Onesimus volunteers and staff who are consistently pursuing the lost children of this nation. Face to face and without fear. This is what God, working through mankind, looks like. Light in DARKNESS. HOPE in DARKNESS.

Want to play a part? You can. If you’ve got an email address, a couple bucks in your pocket, or a heart for people, you can. Email kmcgugan@theforsakenchildren.org to get started.

I’ve seen the HOPE, but today also introduced me to the DARKNESS. More on that next time.