Well, it’s Friday and our mission is about over. We all feel comfortable that we have accomplished what we came here to do.
Hey! Hey ! Hey! From team Ethiopia to all our prayer warriors! We are FANTASTIC! No one is having any stomach issues at this time. Today was our last day of our VBS program with the children. It was awesome.
Church Day! This is a special day for us because we get to visit the International Evangelical Church (IEC). Most of us have been to this church before and all of us admit that we are able to see what the true Christian church should look like. You would not believe the number of nationalities and ethnic groups that are represented. A true taste of heaven!
As I sit here in the terminal at Dullis International Airport, I have a strange grouping of emotions. I've already seen God's amazing provision even before we have left the country. Our flights were pleasant and on time, or team slept well and we're in good spirits. All 14 of our checking bags are accounted for and ready to go. No one is sick, no one is tired . . . God is amazing.
Liz, Misty, and Anna are serving with our amazing Ethiopian team in Addis Ababa this summer. A key part of their work will be to provide training on basic counseling techniques to the men and women who work directly with the street children. The team will be blogging about their experiences, allowing us to get a taste of the amazing ministry God is using to rescue so many children from the streets.
By Anna Gray
It is no longer articles that I have read on street children, nor is it a population that TFC's Ethiopian team struggles to work with, but these children’s lives are beginning to become a reality to me.
In our first couple days of visiting the Drop-In Center, we were the “FERENGIES!!!” (foreigners) It was an exciting time as we were meeting these silly boys, and in the initial weeks, it was a time of utter and complete chaos as we attempted to reign in 20 young teenage boys. But as each day goes by, visiting the Drop-In Center each morning, leading English lessons, joining the boys in soccer games, creating with Legos…, I am getting to see each boy’s personality.
It is a transition in my heart from statistics into a unique set of boys that have chosen to share their lives with us...
Zeden loves to joke with visitors and Haptu is very shy but loves to participate in the programs, and Challa is a natural leader among the boys and tries each day to control his behavior before the younger guys in the group, and I have never seen a boy so hyped up as Yelgacho who is constantly smiling from ear to ear when we sing songs and dance. In getting to know these boys at the Drop- In Center, I am beginning to know their stories, which is giving a deeper, broader, and more extensive appreciation for the team of men and women who work with them each day.
Let me tell you about Abdisa. His mother died a couple years back and his father has remarried. There had been a financial burden within the family so Abdisa’s father made the decision to utilize his son's help by removing him from school and beginning him as a shoe shiner on the streets. Abdisa worked at this career until his father began to take the money Abdisa earned but he was not using it to feed the family. Abdisa soon took all the money in the house and abandoned his family to live on the streets. Abdisa had only been living on the streets for nearly three months when the Ethiopian team took him under their care in the Drop-In Center.
Abel, on the other hand, has found his home on the streets for 4 years. And, he's only 12 years old. Years back, his father was sick and was receiving treatment injections to aid him; meanwhile, his mother had found a new lover. It was discovered after the matter that the new lover was inserting poison in the treatment to end Abel’s father’s life. To escape this home after his father’s death, Abel ran away. Abel has expressed continual misbehavior throughout his involvement at the Drop-In Center, no doubt related to this family struggle. The multiple issues that the staff faces with this single child alone indicates the degree of their efforts on behalf of these children.
And Temazgay is one in the program who has not created an issue the entire 4 weeks I have worked with these children. His family experienced turmoil when his brother died, causing neither his mother nor his father to overcome their grief to provide the basic needs of the child they had left. Desperate to receive education, Temazgay ran. His ambition will melt your heart one second and the battle he faces will break your heart the next.
We were practicing praying and encouraged the boys to write letters to the Lord. Temazgay asked me what he should do because he could not write. I responded, “It doesn’t have to be in English, you can simply write in your own language between you and the Lord.” He states, "I cant. I don’t know how.” – I think, Nothing? Unable to read or write even the simplest statements? Taken back by this fact, I told him he can draw what is on his heart. This day the focus was thankfulness and I look over and see a vague image on Temazgay’s paper. Through translation, I ask and am told it is a book, because he is thankful for schooling. He is so behind at the age of 14 and the only education he is receiving is nearly an hour of schooling at the Drop-In Center in either English or Math and he is thankful for it.
These street boys are children battling against the environment and circumstances that surround them...
Whether it is a physical fight to defend themselves on the streets so that they do not return to the Drop-In Center with a new bump or bruise, or if it is a fight from the emotional distress that engulfs the memories of where they come from.
At this point, 4 weeks in, they are no longer just faces that greet us as we enter the Drop-In Center, but they are children with character and personality, strengths and weaknesses, and dreams and ambitions. Knowing their stories is a testament for how TFC's Ethiopian team works on behalf of these children to secure them a suitable environment that will allow them hope and a future.
By Rachael Burnett. I wish everyone could get to know Nega.
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?
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.
Iva May, the author of the chronological Bible study I use, puts it this way:
There are only three things that are eternal:
- The Word of God
- The Souls of Men
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.