Recently some good friends of mine asked their kids, “What Christian do you know that should be famous?" One of their children answered, “Mommy and Nega Meaza.” This child had met Nega during his recent visit to Memphis and had heard him share many testimonies about how God is transforming the lives of street children through his team. She also has a mommy who has visited Nega’s ministry in Addis Ababa and is an amazing advocate for what God is doing there. So, from what she has heard and seen, she thinks Nega deserves recognition and fame.

Can I just say here that I agree with her! But I would add a few more names to the list…

Teaching BibleI would add Fetla, the spiritual mother to dozens of children who have left the streets. She has made such an investment in each child. You see, Fetla prays hard, serves hard, and, most of all, loves hard. She is a member of Nega’s team who sees things through spiritual eyes and boldly shares the Gospel to the lost children she serves.



I would add Mesfin to the list of Christians who should be famous as well. Mesfin has grown into the team member who knows each child’s situation, where they can be found, and what needs they have. I think of him as the worker bee who gets little recognition for all he does.

I would also add Taye to the list. Taye is the one on Nega’s team who swells with excitement at the prospect of equipping the church in Ethiopia with strong, biblical teaching and discipleship. He longs to see churches willing and able to join his team in caring for the children no one else wants anything to do with.

Metu and AbazuAbazu should also be on the list. She spent years being a mother to many children who otherwise were without a family. As a house mother at one of our halfway homes for children who have been rescued from the streets, she was the member of Nega’s team that showed many children that they were indeed worthy of love. So many children have seen Jesus in the flesh because of Abazu’s example.



I would add Jonathan and Jess Bridges to the list as well, a couple who have left the comforts of the U.S. and planted themselves in the remote village where the Kota Ganate Ag Project is located. They raise their two precious children in this place because they have seen how their skill sets can further the Gospel if they are willing to give up creature comforts and invest in what Nega’s team is doing.

And, finally, (I could actually go on and on!), I would add my wife, Karyn, to the list of Christians who should be famous. For years she has sacrificed her natural desires for putting down roots, for owning nice things (we do have some of those), and for so many other things so that we can pursue God’s call to minister alongside Nega and his team. Everyday she pours herself out for our family so I can focus on TFC and it can continue to impact Ethiopia’s street children with the Gospel. She’s amazing!

I love this pic of two of my favorite people, Karyn and Nega


Whoever heard me spoke well of me, and those who saw me commended me, because I rescued the poor who cried for help, and the fatherless who had none to assist them. ~ Job 29:11-12


The Permanently His Campaign needs your help to see Nega's amazing team establish a permanent drop-in center for the street children in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Check it out!

My Story of Hope


Brit and Fekadu picture drawn By Britainy Sholl, Vice Chairwoman of The Forsaken Children.

This story is based on a former street child's real life experiences. Take a moment and get a glimpse of what life is like on the streets from a child's perspective. Finally, be inspired by how God intervenes to change children's tragic stories into ones full of hope. God is on the move in Ethiopia to restore hope in the hearts of its forsaken children. 



This is my story of hope.  My name is Fekadu.

When I was 7 years old, my father abandoned our family, and soon thereafter my mother, who had been very sick, died.

With nowhere to go, my little sister and I began living on the streets of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. I could not care for my sister, so she eventually went to live with a family friend who was only willing to take one of us.

I worked on the streets to make money so I could buy food. But the work was very difficult, and people often stole my money.

Most days my empty stomach ached, and I had to dig through many trash cans to find any crumb to eat.

I remember one time when I became very sick, and no one helped me.  For 3 days I was sick, and people just walked on by as I lay in the street.

One night I had a dream someone reached out a hand to help me. I awoke, knowing that no one would help a dirty street kid like me. I tried hard to forget about my dream, convinced it didn't mean anything.

Children living on the streets will find any vacant spot to sleep, from a median to a dirt sidewalk.

I often saw other boys and girls going to school or playing with a soccer ball and wished I could be like them.

But my life was about survival - making it from one moment to the next all on my own.

When I turned 10, I was very thin, lonely and sad.  I cried often and was becoming weaker day-by-day.

Nega and his team go out on the streets and invite children to come to the drop-in center.

Then one day, I saw it! It was the hand from the dream I had tried to forget. Only this time it wasn’t a dream. It was a man named Nega. He reached his hand out and said,  “Come with me. I am going to help you.”

I could tell by his face that he was a good man, so I went with him.  He took me to a place called the drop-in center.  When we arrived, there were other nice people there. They had the same look in their eyes Nega had...

Why would these people help me? I am a complete stranger, and I have no money to pay them.  I am dirty, weak and hopeless. 

The reason didn't matter - someone had finally seen me and reached out a hand to help.

The first thing we did at the drop-in center was eat!  I couldn’t remember the last time I’d had a real meal. I ate until I couldn’t fit another bite into my mouth! Then they let me take a bath - with soap! Again, I couldn’t remember ever doing that. Maybe my mom had given me a bath when I was a baby.  Then they told me the best news: I was going to get to go to school!  I would get an education.  I would play with other boys and girls.

Several weeks later I was working with one of the adults at the drop-in center on my studies when I asked the question that would change my life.  This question had been on my mind since the day I arrived there, and now I had to ask.  “Why did you help me?”  The answer was simple...

“Because of Jesus.”

Who is this Jesus? I had heard the other kids at the drop-in center speak of Him, and I wanted to meet Him.  I asked question after question about this Jesus.  I wanted to thank Him for telling these kind people to help me when I did nothing to deserve it.

Some of the amazing men and women who are the hands and feet of Jesus to children, like Fekadu, who come to the drop-in center.

At the end of our conversation that day, I finally understood who Jesus is. The thought of someone giving His life for me so that I can know God was the best news I had ever heard!  That is when I found Jesus and finally found hope.

I was a broken, poor, dirty, unloved street orphan.  But Jesus loved me.  He loves me, this I know; for the Bible tells me so.  Yes, Jesus loves me.  Yes, Jesus loves me.  Yes, Jesus loves me.  The Bible tells me so.

This song brings me joy.  I see Jesus every day in the faces of my friends at the drop-in center. They are able, because of the love of Jesus, to see me as Christ sees me.  I am worthy and loved beyond measure; a son of the Most High.  Yes, Jesus loves me.

You see, that dream I had of that hand so many years ago wasn’t the hand of any ordinary man. I now know that it was the hand of Jesus Christ. He reached down and touched my life and filled it with hope.

This is my story of hope. My name is Fekadu. What’s yours?

The front of Fekadu's drop-in center. A beacon of hope in the middle of Addis Ababa. This location has officially closed and the drop-in center is now at a temporary facility close by. Please join the Permanently His Campaign to ensure a permanent facility is in place in 2014.

Only One Thing is Needed


By Rachael Burnett. I wish everyone could get to know Nega.Nega and Sarah

Nega is the director of TFC’s on the ground efforts in Ethiopia. Honestly, I’ve only “known” him for a short while— the only time I've been around him and seen him in action was for a short week this summer while on my first trip to Ethiopia. But, wow. This man never seems to get tired. He never seems to run out of energy, smiles, time, or hugs.

Lately, I, myself, have been way short on all of those elements. I’ve felt drained, like I can’t keep up with the list of to-do’s and be-here’s spiraling to infinity. Maybe you have felt this busyness-to-the-max, too?

As I was thinking and praying about what God would have me write in this post, struggling to come up with something, He reminded me of a beautiful scene I witnessed this summer and the phrase “only one thing is needed” from a story in the book of Luke...

While we were in Ethiopia, each morning our team worked with street children at the drop-in center, and every afternoon we went to a nearby soccer field and played with the kids there. I remember feeling absolutely shocked one afternoon as I looked up to see Nega jogging out to join the match with the boys who were already whipping up and down the field. What in the world was he doing? Was he really running out enthusiastically to join the kids?

Nega playing soccer with boys during my visit to Ethiopia in June

Here I am trying to follow Nega's example and try my hand - err, foot - at soccer

With all of his other responsibilities, how does he have time to play? How does he have the energy?

Obviously, Nega knows something I didn’t know—or at least didn’t grasp down deep in my heart. He knows the truth of Jesus’ statement in Luke 10:42, “But only one thing is needed.” Jesus spoke this gentle admonition to a woman named Martha—who I think may be my long-lost twin—after she was a bit perturbed at her sister Mary’s lack of assistance in the kitchen.

You see, Jesus had come to visit Mary and Martha and their brother Lazarus. Martha was busy, “distracted with much serving” (vs. 40), flitting around the house making preparations for the meal, fluffing the sofa pillows, and swishing the last stubborn cobwebs from the corners. All the while Mary was sitting at Jesus’ feet simply listening to his teaching and enjoying Him (vs. 39).

Exasperated over being the only one concerned about the chores, Martha approached Jesus and boldly asked Him, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me” (vs. 40). And Jesus responded ever so gently, but pointedly, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her” (vs. 41-42). I can just see Martha shrinking back in conviction—maybe a little stung by the reprimand, but humbled with the reminder of what-or rather who-really matters.

Nega gets it. He recognizes that Jesus places a premium on relationship—both with Him and with others. Nega recognizes that, more than organized programs and neat facilities, the street kids need love. And kids (and big people, too) spell love T-I-M-E.

Is there anything wrong with being a doer? Was Martha wrong for desiring to serve Jesus? Of course not! However, like Joanna Weaver states in her book, “In her eagerness to serve Jesus, [Mary] almost missed the opportunity to know Jesus.”

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to miss knowing Jesus. Maybe it’s time for us to take a lesson from Nega and from Mary. Maybe we need to re-evaluate our busyness, our “service,” our to-do’s and be-here’s. Rather than play soccer, I’m sure there were a thousand other things Nega could have chosen to do, a thousand other things that were seemingly demanding his attention right then. But, in my opinion, he, like Mary, chose the “good part”—the eternal part.

Sossina with Nega copy Nega with halfway home boys

Iva May, the author of the chronological Bible study I use, puts it this way:

There are only three things that are eternal:

  1. The Word of God
  2. The Souls of Men
  3. Prayer

So I’m learning the importance of filtering the ways I’m spending my time, even if under the banner of “serving” or “necessary busyness”, through the lens of those three eternal things.

Let’s reject distractions and wake up to choosing the best—choosing to intimately know and love our Savior and other people, especially those on the fringes, both the ones right across the street and those all around the world.



The kids at CHE's Drop-In Center are often dirty, smelly, disobedient, and ill-mannered. But they are also entirely worthy of God's love. Isn't it the same with each of us? We don't always act as we should and sometimes we smell awful but God loves us just the way we are. God's love and grace are freely given regardless of our condition or circumstance. It's because of His love and grace that Nega Meaza, Director of Children's Home Ethiopia (CHE), cares so deeply for the children at the Drop-In Center. And what's more...

Nega and kidsThese children LOVE Nega!

If you drive down the street with Nega in Mexico (the area where the Drop-In Center is located) you will hear "NEGA!" shouted from the mouths of numerous children and you will see them running as fast as they can after the car.

This image brings to life for me the words of Jesus in Matthew 19:14...

"Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."

Nega is imitating Jesus as he invites the children to come to him.

And the children come back again and again because they know without doubt that Nega's love for them is real. Joe and I are honored to serve these children alongside Nega. He is truly an example of Christ in word and deed!

My dorky gift to give...

Nega needs to dedicate his time to ministering to the children, but the administrative demands of CHE often take his attention.

To be really honest, I have always wanted a "cool" spiritual gift -- like discernment or prophesy. But God instead gave me the "dorky" spiritual gift of administration. For such a time as this!

It now excites me to be able to take some of the administrative load off of Nega's back. I get a thrill out of helping maintain employee and beneficiary files, recording physical donations, organizing and filing paperwork, etc.

My goal this year is to get the behind the scenes "stuff" organized and running more efficiently, so that Nega will be free to do what God lets Him do so on those kids.

Karyn BridgesOf course, I plan to do some loving on kids too!!! But isn't it great how we all have different gifts and that, when used together, we can accomplish so much?

~ Karyn Bridges (Cheerful Admin Dork)