Today, as I remember my past Christmases I am also drawn to thoughts of Ethiopia. I find myself torn as I plan Christmas for my children and I think about my childhood Christmas experiences as compared with those of children I know and love in Ethiopia. Some of those children will spend Christmas on the streets. Some will spend it in a halfway home. Others will be fortunate enough to spend the season at home, with a family who cares about them. Still others, maybe the least fortunate, will spend Christmas in a home with caretakers who care very little about them other than what they can produce – a garment to sale, a clean kitchen, or maybe some birr (Ethiopia’s currency) from begging on the streets.
That last group of children is on my heart and mind today. Some of you know these children or will recognize their names… Children like Nibyu and Begidu are fresh in my mind and many of yours as you recently received a Christmas update with their picture (email us here with your contact info if you would like to receive such updates in the future). These two boys are a picture of God’s grace and compassion as extended through the Onesimus Children Development Association. Both come from pasts spent on the streets, striving to survive and often striving to bring something of significance back to their parents.
For Begidu, it was time– time away from his desperately poor household so his father and stepmother did not have to care for another child. Their resources were simply not sufficient to care for Begidu and his siblings. He roamed the streets all day, returning home only when it was convenient, to sleep.
For Nibyu, it was worth- His mother’s desperation as a young, single mother of three caused that worth to be tied up in what Nibyu could produce. Could he provide some resources from his time spent on the streets? Usually not. His lack of production and his childlike tendency to simply have fun and, yes, cause trouble made him more of a disappointment than anything else to his struggling mother.
Today, these young men are different because of God’s work through Onesimus and TFC. Living in Onesimus’ halfway home for boys has helped them find the love they needed to receive – apart from what they could produce. Both have experienced the life-changing salvation of Jesus Christ, which I believe has truly saved their lives. This Christmas, they are brothers, living life not in the abundance of things or creature comforts, but in the abundance of God’s love.
So, now I’m left with thoughts of how I can demonstrate the abundance of God's love to my children this Christmas. What better gift than the lasting hope of Jesus Christ. That’s what I really want for my children, don’t you?
Today, in the midst of the American Christmas hustle and bustle, take the time to share Christ with your children.
Thank you Nibyu and Begidu for your example to me this Christmas. I love you both and Merry Christmas!
|Nibyu Today||Nibyu and Begidu with friend, Kaleb||Begidu with TFC volunteer, Nicci Feathers|