Years ago my grandfather use to own a chair. It was HIS chair. He watched TV in it, enjoyed company while sitting in it, rocked his children to sleep in it, and eventually rocked his grandchildren to sleep in it. One day however, my grandmother bought him a new chair for their house. One that matched a little bit more with the decor. She offered the chair to me and I quickly said yes. . . I say all this because I feel like I've sat in my grandfather's chair long enough. My life has been comfortable for a long time.
“Being a part of TFC has re-centered our priorities and given us a new perspective on God as Father,” states Ed. “It’s made me realize, without God we can’t do a thing. It’s brought the scripture from Romans 6, the wages of sin is death, to life for me. It’s the stark reality of a little child dying due to our brokenness; we are all broken and I’m broken to the point when I don’t even have the answers. We all need the Lord.”
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.
Today was the first day of being with the children and it was such a blessing! From the minute we drove into the Lutheran church the children were there smiling and waving. As soon as we stepped out of the van the children were right there laughing and hugging us. Their smiling faces were enough to make me forget about everything that we had passed on the way in. All the traffic, rain, and gloom were suddenly gone and all we could see were the bright smiling faces that welcomed us. Having the children be so open to hugs and holding hands was something I had never experienced before and it was one of the best feelings in the world. To see the love that they had for us even when they did not know us was something that I will never forget.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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?