By Randall Johnson, TFC's Board Chairman I got the chance to visit Ethiopia earlier this year. This was my second trip to see our ministry efforts in Addis Ababa. I was most eager to see Metu, now a 15 year-old girl, whom I had first met four years earlier. One of my goals for this trip was to tell her parts of the story of our first meeting that she had never heard.
Let me fill you in on where Metu came from before ever entering our ministry…
You see, Metu had lost her parents and was, years before I met her, being raised by her grandmother. But her grandmother ran out of resources to care for Metu, so she did the only thing she knew to do. In her culture what she did is called giving a child to God…
She took her granddaughter out on the streets, and, when Metu wasn't looking, her grandmother ducked out of sight, leaving Metu on her own. Her grandmother's hope was that God would now take care of Metu because she no longer could.
As you might imagine, life became a living hell for Metu. I don't know how long she had lived on the street when I met her in 2009, but, by that time, Metu had found her way to our ministry – the drop-in center for street child restoration in Addis Ababa.
Metu had suffered a great deal before I met her. How, then, could it be said that God loved her?
This question is what propelled me to share with Metu the complete story of our first meeting. Some aspects of the story were crucial to helping her gain perspective on God’s love for her.
Let me tell you about our first meeting in 2009…
Right before I departed for Ethiopia four years ago, a friend of mine called me. He explained that while praying for my trip he had a vision. He saw me leading a little African girl to Christ. Of course, I knew nothing of who I was going to meet when I reached Addis Ababa. But this certainly piqued my anticipation.
My team was picked up at the airport by TFC’s executive director, Joe Bridges, who was then living in Ethiopia. During our commute to our guesthouse, he described one little girl at the drop-in center who was giving the team such problems that Joe didn't know what to do or how to advise the Ethiopian staff. In short, he believed she had been traumatized by the abuse and/or neglect she had faced and was unable to trust anyone.
I knew in that moment, while riding to our guesthouse, that this was the girl my friend had seen in his vision and that I was going to play some role in her life.
That week my team did a vacation Bible school for the kids at the drop-in center, and I met this little girl, Metu. On the third and final day, I made a presentation of the gospel to the children. Immediately afterwards here came Metu! She indicated to me that she wanted to receive the Lord. We prayed and rejoiced together over her decision to follow Jesus.
Now let me fill you in on our awesome reunion this year…
Here I was four years later coming to see Metu to follow up with the details of the story I just explained.
Because Metu had known nothing of the vision my friend was given or of the conversation I had with Joe Bridges on the way to our guesthouse, I felt a need to fill her in.
As soon as I had the opportunity, I sat with Metu to tell her about what God had done. I told her, “I know that the life you had to live before you found the drop-in center was one of the most painful things you have ever experienced… It must have seemed as if God was nowhere to be found.”
She began to cry and so did I.
“But,” I said, “God was planning all along to bring you to Himself. If you hadn't gone on this path, we wouldn't have met, and you wouldn't have come to the Lord when you did.”
As we continued talking, Metu began telling me of her aspirations to be a scientist. Amazingly – considering her background – she is doing excellent in school, and I can see her dreams becoming a reality.
Here is this incredible 15-year-old girl, who had lived on the streets just 4 years ago and had no hope of doing anything of significance. Now she is full of hope and promise. I fully believe that God is going to use her to help rescue others like herself and speak a message of hope to her city and country!
Metu’s story is amazing, isn’t it?
I want to highlight some of the keys to her inspirational transformation...
- Through her involvement at TFC’s drop-in center, Metu found the lasting and permanent hope of Jesus Christ! Metu is now a transformed young lady who is in love with the Lord.
- Upon leaving the streets behind, Metu found a home and a family in our halfway home for girls. She now lives with a house mother and a family of girls who have similar pasts.
- Metu has been able to go to school because of TFC and has excelled in her studies. She is passionate about learning and has great potential to become the scientist she dreams of being.
The drop-in center, family, and an education provide Metu with a sense of permanency now and hope for the future. These components are keys to rescuing street children, and I invite you to invest in their PERMANENT existence… Take a moment to watch the Permanently His video and see Metu share a little bit of her testimony!