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
I would love to tell you about my latest friend Alemayehu (a.k.a. Alex), but I am afraid that my words will not do justice. My writing will simply not be adequate to capture the fullness of his heart. Within the two weeks that I have shared with Alex, I have grown to appreciate his reliance on the Lord, his passion for his calling to work with street children, and the love he has extended to me and my friends.
Alex is the Social Work Coordinator for TFC's Ethiopian team. I am a social work student, Misty is training the staff in how to counsel, and Liz desires to work in the drop-in center, so Alex has been our main man and central connection to what we came here to do.
I am constantly reminded how grateful I am for our time with him.
Few things are as contagious as his smile, loaded with true joy and laughter from the experiences of life. Let me share an example...
This week the rainy season officially made its way to Addis Ababa, making our 30-45 minute walks across the city to the drop-in center a little trickier. The game of reading the sky and gambling with a break between downpours has left us drenched and dripping. This past week we tried to make a break for it from the drop-in center to get back to our guest house. We said our goodbyes, but after getting fed up trying to battle the locals for a spot on the minibuses in the pouring rain, we had to trudge our soaking-wet-selves back into the drop-in center.
Within seconds of seeing us, Alex’s face lit up with laughter! In this moment joining him in laughter was unavoidable. (Participating in his grand idea of walking the 45 minutes back to the guest house in the pouring rain, on the other hand, was completely avoidable!)
His replenishing source of joy causes those around him to look deeper at what his sense of life is founded in. No doubt he is a hard-working man, deeply invested in the difficult and distressing population of street children. Alex is not shy to confess his heartache, his grief, his frustration, or his dependence on refilling his empty vessel with the Spirit and dwelling in the presence of the Lord.
Considering his actions alone, I am shown a beautiful illustration of love. Years ago I received the message that the Lord had written the word “love” over my life. Later, the Lord revealed the verse 1 John 3:18 , which states, “Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth” as reference for the calling over my life.
From the perspective of seeing life through the lens of sharing time with Alex, I am beginning to see deeper into this vision for how our God desires to love his people. I see Alex seeking the truth within each message offered in the training seminars (credit evans). It is a type of investment in the training that requires (1) his mind to break down the basic principles and apply them to the context of his culture and work, (2) his heart to truly desire change and progress in the lives of the children, and (3) his spirit to discern what the Lord is calling of him to do.
It is nothing less than a blessing to experience Alex’s attitude throughout the training seminars and to accompany him as he works with the children in the drop-in center, practicing the principles with eagerness to see lives changed and souls restored to our God.
His love is not isolated or out of convenience but is simply a natural reaction. In a foreign country, far from friends and family, I am showered with care when I am in his presence. One of our days here, a member of our team was experiencing an overwhelming rush of emotion when she understood the strenuous fight to love such a difficult group as these street children and to see the excessive love poured out by the staff that works so near to these children day in and day out. Caught in tears, she was able to pull herself together, but Alemayhu’s concern would not end here. As we walked and talked later that day, Alex assured that our group was coping well and that we are not alone with wrestling through our experiences with the street children.
Over and over again he displays a heart that is genuine and a love that is pure.