Ed and Liz Gillentine have been involved with TFC from the start. “We can remember back when Joe and Karyn [Bridges] were dreaming out loud; they told us about the street kids of Ethiopia and Nega [TFC's Ethiopian Team director],” says Liz Gillentine. Once Ed and Liz heard the Bridges passion for the street kids of Ethiopia, they were hooked. “Joe and Karyn’s passion and compassion for the street kids moved us.” The Gillentines joined the very first TFC board and soon found themselves figuring out how to write bylaws, and truly being a part of the ground floor of The Forsaken Children. “Our first year’s budget was $13,000 and Nega was just taking 4-6 at risk kids,” said Liz. Ed Gillentine visited Ethiopia for the first time in 2009 and emotionally connected with Ethiopia, the staff, Nega and a very special little girl named Sosie. Sosie was one of the kids in the program and somehow found a special place in the Gillentine’s heart. “Most mission trippers will have a child they connect with and for us it was Sosie. From then on our family began praying for Sosie and her brother and every time I go to Ethiopia, I visit with her family,” said Ed. “It’s like she is a part of our family,” Liz chimes in; “even our kids pray for her, worry about her and love her."
Ed Gillentine keeps a picture of Sosie on his phone to remind him of why he does what he does to help the children in Ethiopia. Recently, Ed along with several other Memphians, started Highland Harvesters. As Ed’s heart became increasingly drawn to the plight of the street children, he began to look seriously at ways to maximize their financial support and out of this came Highland Harvesters. Highland Harvesters will serve as a funding mechanism for TFC and other ministries. To read more about this new project, you can check out their website (http://highlandharvesters.com/story.html).
“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.”
“Our family has learned to live with less because of Ethiopia. We live with less because we know that some have nothing,” says Liz. “Ethiopia has changed our lives, and our kids’ lives. It has made us more grateful for what we have and compassionate toward others. Ethiopia has infiltrated every part of our lives. It has moved us to not only continue to advocate for and financially support TFC but to also get involved with other non-profits that also help children stateside like Bethany and CAC.”
Thanks to Ed and Liz Gillentine for their commitment and love for this ministry.