What happens when people—children—are denied this sense of permanency? When girls and boys are forced to make their lives in the streets where the only thing permanent is the deep ache of hunger, loneliness, and despair?
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…
I 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.
Abazu 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!
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
By Rachael Burnett So it’s here. The lights, the trees, the music, the parties and family dinners, the shopping and the gifts. These symbols are the so-called staples of the American Christmas scene, and they seem to ever increasingly blur the connection between Christmas and that dirty Bethlehem feed trough that was graced with our Creator God in the smooth, pink skin of a baby.
It seems so long ago and far away, doesn’t it? And really, was that “holy night” that big of a deal? Of course, we know that “Jesus is the reason for the season” and that GOD taking on flesh is a pretty big deal. Yet, somehow, we still often manage to miss it—to miss the BIGNESS of that event.
-The backwater carpenter, Joseph, and his unassuming bride, Mary, chosen to parent the God-Man through divine conception
-The Sovereign Creator bringing to fruition His redemptive plan that began back in the Garden when the “s” word severed us from our sole/soul joy and purpose—communion with our Father
-The Servant Son—knowing full well the agony He would endure—humbling Himself from the splendors of heaven to a straw-filled manger and eventually brutal death— bearing the separation for us
Not only did He bear the separation from the Father that we each deserve, but He completely conquered the breach so we could be fully and permanently restored to right relationship with Him—adopted and cherished as our Father King’s son or daughter.
Have you experienced that glorious grafting into God’s family? If you haven’t, you can; and if you have, won’t you just take a moment to revel in the peace that comes through knowing you are fully and permanently His? Nothing—no thing—is able to separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus.
That fact is cause for “tidings of comfort and joy,” don’t you think? And what if we could let that comfort, joy, and peace spill out of us just a smidge (or maybe more!)? What if that unshakable peace and hope we know is just what our hurting neighbor, or the tired store clerk, or the lonely child needs?
Because, really, just what are we doing if we aren’t sharing the blessings (both spiritual and material) that have been lavished on us? I’m reminded that hoarding is toxic to the soul, while giving of ourselves and our resources allows us to take hold of that which is truly life.
While in Ethiopia with TFC this past summer, God graciously let me be part of sharing His great news of everlasting love with precious children like Metu and David, many of whom have nothing and no one that remains constant in their life. One of the primary reasons I love TFC is because they are committed to changing that norm.
Through the “Permanently His” Campaign and sustainability efforts such as the Kota Ganate Agricultural Project, TFC is working diligently to establish a sense of consistency and hope in street children’s lives by offering them a safe place to gather (recently, our drop-in center location was closed down due to a government reconstruction plan. The need is great for a new, secure facility), quality educational opportunities, healthy family structures and, ultimately, the eternal permanency of a relationship with Christ.
With the freshness of His coming in mind—the Father’s incredible example of sacrificial giving— would you consider partnering with TFC?
And would you consider refusing to give into the seemingly obligatory “holiday stress”? (It’s a worn out cliché anyway.) This is Christmas. HE—our Breach Repairer and Soul Redeemer— is Christmas.
O holy night, the stars are brightly shining, It is the night of our dear Savior's birth. Long lay the world in sin and error pining, 'Till He appeared and the soul felt it's worth. A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices, For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!
Fall on your knees, Oh hear the angel voices, Oh night divine, oh night when Christ was born. Oh night divine, oh night, oh night divine.
Truly He taught us to love one another, His law is love and His gospel is peace. Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother, And in His name all oppression shall cease. Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we, Let all within us praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord Christ is the Lord, oh, praise His name forever His power and glory ever more proclaim! His power and glory ever more proclaim!
Fall on your knees, Oh hear the angel voices, Oh night divine, oh night when Christ was born. Oh night divine, oh holy night, oh night divine.
This year's “Permanently His Campaign” has me thinking a lot about our work in Ethiopia. More specifically, I've been thinking about the Kota Ganate Agriculture Project - something we started almost six years ago - because permanency is what this project is all about. Where we're from, “putting down roots” means to establish yourself permanently somewhere - to make a place your home. You make friends there, make a home there, start a family there - you become part of the place just as much as the place becomes a part of you.
I guess you could say my family and I have put down roots in Ethiopia in more ways than one. With Kota Ganate we're “putting down roots” for a generation of children who desperately need the permanency TFC provides, children like Abel, Sossina, and Metu.
Kota Ganate provides long-term sustainability to ensure these kids and many others will find the permanency they need.
As we literally put down roots with each crop we plant, pray with us for God to deepen our financial roots through Kota Ganate so we can continue to offer street children in Ethiopia the chance to become Permanently His.