I met Tamrat on his first day at the Onesimus Drop-In Center for street children. Immediately, I noticed that Tamrat, while outwardly tough in many ways, had a gentleness about him. I also saw him laugh – a lot! His laugh and smile were infectious, usually followed by similar actions by all who were around him.
As the days and weeks passed, Tamrat caused so little harm or distraction that I barely got to know him (in other words, I was a bit distracted by many of his naughty counterparts). And then my family and I had to return to the States.
Right after my family’s departure from Ethiopia, Tamrat as well as two other boys in his group accepted Jesus as their Savior. This occurred close to the time Tamrat would be placed back into his family, a family I knew little about other than that they were devoutly Ethiopian Orthodox.
I love when street children are reunited with their families, but for Tamrat my excitement was slightly stifled by fear that his Ethiopian Orthodox family would hinder his new faith.
My fears were relieved in February when I sat down with Tamrat, his mother, his younger sister, and his sweet niece and nephew. Tamrat and his family shared the whole story with me - everything I hadn't known about this incredible young man’s journey to and from the streets…
- Tamrat began to spend most of his time playing soccer with street children in grade four and fell in love with the freedom he experienced with this group.
- Upon completing grade five, Tamrat decided to join the street culture he had become infatuated with. He made the streets of Addis Ababa his home and his fellow street pals his family.
- After several months on the streets Tamrat called his mother to come and bring him home. She joyfully took him back but eventually Tamrat ran away again, leaving his mother hopeless that he would ever be back.
- Tamrat’s mother had such little hope that he would remain in her home (this mixed with fear of how his influence would affect her other children) that when he called again, she made the painful decision not to go to him.
- Close to this time, Bisrat, Onesimus’ community worker, visited Tamrat and his gang of street pals. Tamrat and his friends decided to come to the drop-in center and see what it was all about.
- Over the next eight months Tamrat learned from, was cared for by, and became friends with the Onesimus team of godly mentors.
- In July of 2010 Tamrat and his two closest friends, Yared and Nati, committed their lives to Jesus due to the Onesimus team’s undeniable love and their intentional sharing of the Gospel.
- Shortly after accepting Christ, Tamrat was reunited with his happy, yet fearful mother.
- Today Tamrat has regained his mother and his family’s trust.
- Tamrat immediately began grade six when he returned home and just last week I found out that he is the top of his class!
- While his family remains devoutly Ethiopian Orthodox, Tamrat has become a member of an evangelical church close to his home. When asked, his mother said that she is thrilled by his newfound faith and wants him to continue to go to church.
- Tamrat now spends most of his free time at home, at the library, or at church.
Tamrat’s story continues. While there is much hope that he will never go back to the streets, I know that the temptation may always be there for him.
Pray for Tamrat.
Pray also for his family, that they will see Jesus in him and embrace the Gospel that has played a huge role in transforming Tamrat’s life.
Here’s a 1-minute video about Tamrat.