First Things First

My wife, Karyn, asked me to blog about The Forsaken Children’s hopes for 2010, which I thought was a great idea. As I sat down to do that, thinking through all the Board meetings and strategizing, I got a little bogged down and decided I wanted to make this blog a little more personal, from my heart. I want to tell you about MY hopes for TFC in 2010. After an incredibly productive 2009, I am full of ideas regarding what could happen in this new year. My hopes revolve around one thing though, and that is making life worth living for the Ethiopian children I have gotten to know since moving to Ethiopia last year. I have come to the conclusion that focusing on ministry (sharing Jesus and teaching new believers how to follow him) is the key to seeing this happen. Keeping first things first. I don’t know if you have ever experienced this, but for me, being surrounded by extreme need constantly last year caused me to lose sight of the importance of ministry. What I mean is that I slowly began to focus more and more on fulfilling people’s physical needs rather than their spiritual needs. When Ashenafi, an Onesimus beneficiary who accepted Christ in early 2009, came to me, I didn’t think much about his spiritual health/growth, but rather I concentrated on things like the condition of his clothes, whether he was clean or not, did he look hungry?, etc… I know all those things are extremely important, but I also know that they will not last.

During my brief trip to the States over Christmas, I had the opportunity to clear my head a bit. As I processed through the past year I saw my tendency to focus on the practical and physical elements of my work in Ethiopia. I also remembered how sweet it was when I sat with Ashenafi during those first months of living here, and saw him weep as he accepted Jesus as his Savior. These integral elements of ministry – physical and spiritual provision – became competitors for me, physical often replacing spiritual. I saw my error was in dividing these two elements that must go hand in hand, and if either must be the champion as is the case sometimes, It must be spiritual provision, because it is the one lasting thing that exists in the absence of physical resources.

I have therefore come back to Ethiopia with a renewed excitement and commitment to ministry. As the foreigner here, I am mostly excited about the prospect of equipping Nega, Director of Onesimus, and his staff with the time and resources to be first and foremost ministers of Jesus Christ. I want to see 2010 filled with opportunities for them to share Jesus in strategic and effective ways with the community of children and extremely poor families they work with daily. This will provide the lasting change that this community needs more than anything.