missions in africa



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!

Farm Life in Chencha

Farm Life in Chencha

People often shutter when we mention our living conditions in Chencha; no running water, pit latrine for bathroom, electricity most of the time, internet if we’re lucky, and a lack of most modern conveniences.

On the Farm Update #2 - Apples

Since the idea of growing apples was the first thing that brought us to Ethiopia, I thought it fitting to share this aspect of the farm next in this series of updates. Apple production started in Chencha 10-15 years ago and has since become a very important part of the economy in that area. Many of our friends and some of our staff were sent to college on "apple money". Today Chencha is famous in Ethiopia for it's apples.

When the leaders of TFC and Onesimus envisioned a farm, apples were the first thing on their mind. Although poultry is starting to take more of a leading role on the farm, apples are still (and probably always will be) an important part of it.

We have a small orchard of a few hundred trees that is a couple of years old (we are awaiting permission from the government to plant more).

We also have a fairly large nursery where we are propagating several thousand seedlings for sale or planting. The nursery has apple trees in many stages, from newly planted root-stocks, to newly grafted seedlings, to year-old seedlings. The month of Nehase (August) was a busy time in the nursery. I learned a lot about apple propagation from our technicians as I snapped pictures while they busily worked and eagerly shared their knowledge with me. I hope that you enjoy the pictures below.

A young apple tree bearing fruit.

Birhan preparing new root-stock for planting.

Birhan at work

Birhan producing root-stock

Apple seedling growing.

Birhan & Jacob grafting.

Jacob preparing scion.

Freshly grafted seedlings

A view of the nursery.

Last years seedlings

Jacob working


To learn more about the farm, read On the Farm Update #1 - Welcome to the Farm.

To support the farmers, donate now.

On The Farm Update #1 - Welcome to the Farm


Cow Grazing in the Mist We've drifted into the new year here in Ethiopia. The celebrations are over now, and we are settling into the pace of life in 2005. (That's not a typo - the Ethiopian calender is about 7.5 years behind the Western calender). The rains should stop this week, which signals a time of wait and watch as crops which were planted during krempt (the rainy season) grow to maturity. The end of the year is a busy time for farmers in Chencha. The month of Nahase (August for us) is the time to plow and plant a second round of crops. It is known as the month of “goom” (fog). The rains subside a bit, but, being perched at the top of a mountain, we are consumed by a heavy, misty fog off and on throughout each day as clouds drift by. Nahase was a busy time on our little farm, known officially as “Children, Community Strengthening and Income Generation” project (or CCSIG) - even the acronym is hard to say. We simply call it Kota Ganate (KG), which means “Hidden Garden”, and that is what it is.


The sign and main gate to the farm

When you turn off of the rutted, muddy road and enter the gates, you are welcomed by green grass, flowers, young apple seedlings and fertile beds of vegetables. Some days you may catch the community children playing soccer in our small field. The staff will offer you a seat and some tea in the sunshine just outside the office. As you wander through the site, you'll pass the apples to your right and the poultry compound to your left, with lots of noisy chickens inside clucking away.


Our house and the rest of the farm


On the way down the hill, you'll find my little house, where we love visits -partly for the visit, partly because it makes a good excuse to have a coffee ceremony. After my house are rows and rows of vegetables: potatoes, cabbage, garlic, onion, beets and carrots. Past those, on the far side of the property, you'll find women and children cutting the lush green hay to take home to their cows.



This is the first in a series of updates about our “Hidden Garden”. As we worked through the month of Nahase, I tried to capture everything on film so you can see for yourselves how far we've come.


The Office


The Office - Backside


Aster - Secretary


The KG Staff


Aregahegn - Assistant Coordinator


Tarekegn - Project Coordinator

Tarekegn running with the kids.


The new road


Working on the road

The front door to our house.


I hope you've enjoyed this little tour of the farm. Stay tuned. In the coming weeks I will show you some of the different things we are working on.

Right Here, Right Now


"The LORD had said to Abram, 'Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.'" Genesis 12:1

Our pastor from our little church in Sanford, NC, Joshua Dickinson, and his family (wife and 4 children) boarded a flight on March 28th to Dakar, Senegal, in West Africa. They will spend a year in French language school before moving to a more remote location and living with the Mandinka, an unreached people group in Senegal.

Our pastor from our home church in Collierville, TN, Ernie Frey, announced a couple of weeks ago that he and his family (wife and 3 daughters) will be leaving the pastorate for full time mission work in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, beginning in August of this year.

We have been extremely blessed to sit under the teaching of two pastors who share our passion for missions and who live what they preach. They always encouraged their congregations to listen to God's will and calling on their lives, and then go do whatever He says. It just so happens that both of these families were called to full-time missions in Africa.

I can't wait to read the next blog post from the Dickinsons! And I have watched the podcast of the Frey family addressing the church about their calling to Ethiopia several times already (each time I’m in tears!).

I am excited for these new adventures and opportunities for these families. I am thrilled that they have heard clear direction from God and are taking action to accomplish His will for their lives. But, in many ways, I am jealous that they are “on the field”, doing the work that God has set out for them, while I’m “stuck” in Sanford.

You see, I already know that Ethiopia is where God has ultimately directed my family. We are just in a holding pattern as we finish a few things God directed us to accomplish in the states before returning to Africa.

I struggle almost daily with wanting to hurry things along. I just want to get to where I think God really wants me – to be ministering to the street kids IN Ethiopia. “Why are we still here? Why are we not back in Ethiopia?” “Come on, God! Let’s get to it.”

I believe God has a really good sense of humor. I also believe (or should I say believed) that He is gentle in His rebuke and correction of my thoughts and behaviors…

A couple of ladies from my church and I recently began a Bible study. Our leader, Sarah, decided to use the Priscilla Shirer Bible study The Resolution for Women based off the movie Courageous. The book encourages women to make 13 resolutions that will positively impact their relationships with God, their spouses and their children (if applicable), and the world around them.

Sounds really great, doesn’t it? When Sarah contacted me with the book she had chosen, I thought, "Awesome! I love Priscilla’s studies."

Then I read the first chapter and the first resolution:

I do solemnly resolve to embrace my current season of life and will maximize my time in it. I will resist the urge to hurry through or circumvent any portion of my journey but will live with a spirit of contentment.

SAY WHAT?! I thought God was gentle with me! There is no way I can sign my name on THAT dotted line.

Since returning to the US (probably even before), I have lived in a spirit of discontent, constantly wanting to get to the next thing, cross something off the list, and get something done. All along I have not fully engaged in the world around me. I’ve been anxious to get to the next thing – anxious to get back to Ethiopia.

Doing God’s work in Ethiopia is a wonderful calling. Not always easy, but wonderful nonetheless. However, God has lessons, experiences, opportunities, and moments for me RIGHT HERE in Sanford, NC. These are the things I am missing as I long for “the land [he has shown] me.”

There is a reason and a purpose for why I am here right now instead of there.  I did eventually sign the dotted line. I resolved and committed to be satisfied in THIS place at THIS time.

God, help me to embrace where you have me, living and ministering in the here and now.