Let my heart be broken

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.

You all need to see this place. And not just see it, but experience it. It’s nearly impossible to describe Addis Ababa through words and photos. But let me try. Over the past two days, I have experienced the highest highs (except for my wedding and the birth of my kids….Hi Robin :) ) and some of the darkest, most panic filled moments of my life. Yesterday, I attended a worship and ministry opportunity with about 25 Ethiopian local women. Let me tell you, the way these ladies worship and respect the Lord is unmatched by any standard set by Christians in America. It was beautiful to witness the emotion on their faces as they reflected on the goodness of God and participated in fellowship with each other. Side note: Kelly McGugan (Executive Director of The Forsaken Children) and Nega Meaza (Founder and Director of Onesimus) were astounding as they spoke a message about how these women can begin to show the love of Christ to others. The Forsaken Children and Onesimus are in good hands with these two.

You know that feeling you get when you hear a worship set or a message from your pastor that just really rocks you emotionally? This was like that. Multiplied by 100.

I think God was using our women’s ministry meeting as a way to prepare me for our afternoon visit to Sarah. Sarah is a beautiful 14-year-old girl who lives here:

Sarah and her mother receive emotional, financial, occupational, and educational support from the Forsaken Children and Onesimus. They have faced every kind of difficulty you can imagine . . . government persecution, poverty, sexual assault, and familial tension. And one of the only places they are able to find some safety is in their 5 foot by 10 foot home made of plastic tarps and in their love for each other. Sarah’s home is another location that is nearly impossible to describe through words and photos. Hot, cramped, insect-infested, and dark only begin to describe the atmosphere. No one should have to live like that.


Sarah’s mother poured out her heart to us with the vulnerability and genuineness that is only seen in extreme brokenness. Although there are vast differences between Sarah’s family and my own, there was one similarity that became apparent. No matter what, to Sarah’s mom, family comes first. Like many other kids in Addis, it would be simple for Sarah to turn to the streets for companionship, addiction, and brokenness. But no matter the mistakes that Sarah makes, her mother continues to love her without relenting. If you paid attention to my previous blog post. you’ll recognize the theme. HOPE in DARKNESS.

Good looking kid, right? Ashenafi is easily my favorite person I’ve met in Ethiopia thus far. Not only is he a genuine, gentle, and kind human being, but he also represents as near to an Onesimus/The Forsaken Children success story as you can imagine. Ashenafi lived on and off the streets of Addis Ababa with an extremely complicated family situation since the age of 7. When he reached the age of 13, Ashi participated in the activities of The Forsaken Children/Onesimus Drop-In Center. Through the Onesimus staff, Ashi found confidence in himself and a desire to learn and to prepare for his future. Now 20 years old and full of charisma, he seems like the type of man that could do anything he sets his mind to. I asked if he would come visit me in America some time and meet my family. I hope he takes me up on it . . .

I’ve got one more blog post to write, and I’ll be writing about the aspect of this ministry which is the most difficult (as a father) for me to comprehend or emotionally handle…the rescue of and ministry towards kids who are stuck in addiction, homelessness, and confusion…

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.