Liz, Misty, and Anna (pictured L to R) 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
As a student, I have been preparing for the past three years to work in the field of social work. I have been taught human behavior, theories, and practical principles so I will be ready to work as a professional. Case studies are a favorite in social work courses, where difficult situations are presented so the student can theorize how to respond appropriately...
In other words, I know the right answers. I can tell you how a person’s past experiences influence current behavior, the importance of holistic approaches, and steps to take to initiate changing client behavior.
With this foreknowledge, our team prepared for what the two months we spent with TFC's street child restoration ministry in Addis would be used for. The vision was to present basic counseling material to the Ethiopian team who are working directly with the street children. Again to present this group of workers with “the right answers” of how to work with vulnerable populations and to suggest evidence-based practices that have been proven to be most effective in their line of work.
Oh how my heart has changed, my eyes are opened, and my appreciation has gone out to the men and women of this organization after only being here a little over a week.
This population that the staff feels so passionately to work with and fight for beckons on every corner. There is no escaping the poverty, the struggle, and the brokenness that engulfs this city. And the extent that these children’s pasts have torn them down echoes in each misbehavior.
These children's actions beg the question:
Is this the extent of your love?
When will the care you offer abandon me?
Will you leave me on my own now?
What a mighty, mighty battle that “right answers” and “appropriate responses” will not begin to address! These men and women who we are working alongside drink in The Spirit, embody salvation, and pour out patience, grace, and love.
Each minute I am around the workers, I begin to see deeper into the hearts of those who work here, and each time I walk away more and more astonished at the way they love. The staff’s traditional coffee ceremony was a kind and endearing way to welcome us into their country, but how they have assured our comfort throughout our stay as well as assessing how we are coping with working with the street children has illustrated their genuine care for the people that enter their lives.
I see deeper into their hearts in their engagement in the training seminars. In their eyes I see them mulling over the information and how they can use it to reach their children. Their questions are deep and rich, desiring after how to make a lasting difference in the children in their lives (credit evans). It is evident in their concerned discussion that these workers’ hearts are fully committed to the mission of winning these children’s souls for the Lord.
Through their comments in the seminars I have gained: “We are retaught each day how to love these children. Our Father looks down on us from heaven with grace and forgiveness despite the sin that entangles our lives and proceeds to counsel us, bringing us into light, in the same way we are to extend this grace and love to the children we care for.”
My exposure working with the street children brings their questions in the training seminars to a new light. There is no “right answer” that could compensate for the love these workers extend towards these children. Without the reliance on the Lord, and the immense love that is constantly refilling their hearts, anyone would breakdown and burnout within days. These street children have lived according to the streets for years. Buttons are pushed and boundaries are stretched at every opportunity.
My heart goes out to these unsung heroes working, battling, fierce-fully loving these forsaken children every day, but I am encouraged by the strength they attain from The Lord. The work that is done here is a testament for unnatural work the Spirit can accomplish when given freedom to do so.