Wednesday, September 2, 2015

How Sponsorship Changes The World by Carly Marin (Guest Post)

Carly Marin served with Ordinary Hero on the ground for one month in Ethiopia as a trip member and photographer. We are thankful to Carly for her contributions through photography and her beautiful expressions in her own words below about her time spent in Ethiopia.......

How Sponsorship Changes the World
Carly Marin

If you’re like me, you wish you could save the world.

If you could, you’d replace war with peace, put an end to physical, emotional and sexual abuse. You’d stop human trafficking, rid of mental illness, cure cancer and see to it that every child was safe and cared for. You’d put an end to poverty and world hunger while you were at it.

If that sounds like a tall order, it’s because it is. 

Here’s the simple truth that’s sometimes hard to swallow: 
It’s not my job to save the world. 
I’m not God. 

What then, am I responsible for? I believe, full heartedly, that the calling on my life, and on everyone else’s is, in its most basic form: to Love (John 13:34). 

When you love someone, you give yourself to them. You have a relationship with them. It takes cultivation, time, prayer, resources and dedication. 

I’ve been blessed to serve overseas as a missionary for a total of one year. I first spent 11 months in 11 countries on a mission trip called The World Race. Ten months after my return, I set out to go to Ethiopia for a month, where I teamed up with Ordinary Hero. It was there that I witnessed the incredible, life-changing difference it makes when time, effort and pursuit is poured into just one person—and the impact it has not only on that person for the rest of their lives, but on their community.

Meet Tesfaye
Tesfaye grew up in Korah, a community that sits amongst the city’s trash dump where its residents scrounge daily for their food. A majority of them have leprosy or HIV and many spend their days begging on the streets. Both of Tesfaye’s parents had leprosy. He remembers being five years old, himself and his siblings surrounded by the mountains of trash. They were in search of food for themselves and their parents, as they were unable to do so themselves due to their illness. Dumpsters would come in from restaurants and thousands of kids would flee toward it, fighting each other as they raced to find food amongst the waste. People were hurt all of the time in the process. One day a dumpster hit the side of Tesfaye’s mouth which resulted in a huge infection that proceeded to worsen and cause him immense pain over the course of six years. He would often ask God why his life and the lives of others around him were so terrible, until one day his life changed forever.

While in the dump one day, a teenager on a missionary trip found Tesfaye. When he saw the horrific condition of Tesfaye’s mouth infection, he was able to get him to a hospital for treatment. Beyond that, he sent emails requesting help from back home, and a neighbor of his from America decided to sponsor Tesfaye. They still keep in close contact to this day. Because of this sponsor, a stranger from across the world, Tesfaye was able to get an education and a degree. He’s now a pastor in Korah and heads a sponsorship program that helps provide families with food, basic medical care, and rent for a month at a time. 

“My sponsor changed my life,” he said. 

And now Tesfaye is helping change the lives of his community.

I had the pleasure of hearing Tesfaye tell his story a multiple of times to missionary teams that came to work with the ministry. The way he shares his testimony is so real and so genuine. His eyes alone speak volumes, and his words are coated with the pieces that his life has been dealt. 

Some may think that sponsoring a child or family will have little to no impact on the world as a whole. But the truth is, if Tesfaye hadn’t been poured into and sought after by that one missionary decades ago, he wouldn’t be where he is today. Today the impact he provides for the entire community of Korah continues to multiply throughout the hundreds of families that live there. The moral of the story is: changing the world for one, in turn, changes the world for countless others. 

While in Korah, I witnessed a row of women who stood in a line. They had deep lines drawn on their faces, marks of life and time passed. One by one they told us their name and why they so desperately needed a sponsor. Some were sick or had sick family members, unable to care for them. Others had children. They were begging us to help them find a sponsor to save their families.  

By this point, I believe, Americans have become numb to an extent, and possibly repelled by those commercials with the sappy music and slow motion montages of African children with flies covering their faces. I know from experience how different it is to read stories like these or see the commercials about life oceans away and how distant they seem. I’m guilty of seeing them, thinking some sympathetic thought for a moment or two and then never thinking about it again.  I wish I could express the urgency and reality of the situation of these people here. I wish I could put you exactly in my place when I was with them. I hope you trust me when I say that these are real people, with families and hardships as real and tangible as yours, though of a different kind. I don’t say these things to guilt or obligate you into action, but please see them and remember them as more than a story on a blog.  

I’ve been sponsoring a young girl named Carolyn for several years now. Carolyn lives in Uganda. We’ve never met but I receive updates and photos of her every so often. Throughout the years, I’ve loved Carolyn though she’s seemed like a stranger that lives oceans away. I’ve never met her in person. And for years, I’ve put my trust and funds into a separate organization, though reputable, that I don’t know on a personal level.  As I spent days with crowds of children and families awaiting the food only possible via sponsorship, I saw Carolyn in them. I saw her in the sweet faces that waited in line at the feeding program on Entoto Mountain. I saw her in the women that carry their monthly food supply wrapped tightly on their hunched backs as they walk it all back to their tin houses. I saw her in the joy and thankfulness that they had, and I witnessed the impact that sponsorship makes. 

The motto for Ordinary Hero is “Change the World for One”. As simple as it sounds, it’s quite profound. And after spending a month with the “ones” whose worlds are being changed, my world was changed from being exposed to the impact of sponsorship.  

I can’t save the world, but I can help change the world for one. 

If you would like to change the world for one, please contact the Ordinary Hero Sponsorship Coordinator, Kelly Blevins at and visit our sponsorship page

Saturday, August 15, 2015

OH Life Center~ Ethiopia

OH LIFE CENTER in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Where families begin their bond for the first time.
Where the dream of adoption finally becomes a reality.
Where the Ordinary Hero travels and stays 
to change lives in Ethiopia.

Are you planning to travel to Ethiopia 
for adoption, missions, business? 

Visit the OH Guesthouse website to learn more and book your stay, or email  

We can't wait to watch you grow in family and in love in Ethiopia! 
See you across the ocean!  

OH Life Center ~ The First Year from Ordinary Hero on Vimeo.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Meet our featured TEEN Ordinary Hero!

Meet Allie! She is our featured TEEN Ordinary Hero! She has traveled to Ethiopia 4 times since she was 15 years old! 
We LOVE our teens that serve with OH! 

My name is Allie McCraw, I am 18 years old, and I have been to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 4 times with Ordinary Hero! Participating in the Ordinary Hero trips has changed my life and given me an entirely new perspective. Every time I go I learn something new, whether it's another word in Amharic or how something as little as holding a child's hand can impact their life. I plan to keep returning as much as I can because every day is so fulfilling. Although at times the poverty is overwhelming, the amount of love given and received is hard to stay away from. Though I live in Tennessee, my heart lives in Ethiopia.

Thursday, August 13, 2015


Ordinary Hero team members capture some Ethiopia INSTA moments! Thanks for your hashtags and thanks for serving children in need in Ethiopia this summer! #ordinaryhero #changetheworldforone

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

ORDINARY. the documentary

Local Nashville, come out on August 20 to the first screening of our new documentary, ORDINARY.

Imagine taking your entire family across the ocean to a third world country for one month. Imagine what it would be like for your adopted child from that country to meet his birth family for the first time and hear the gripping account of "why" he was put into an orphanage. Imagine taking your family into the depths of so much poverty, starvation, and medical needs that it changes them forever. 

This inspiring documentary showcases how one, ORDINARY, Tennessee family of eight, steps out of their everyday routine of life to travel across the ocean to serve children in need in Ethiopia. They are met with the gripping reality of their adopted son's back story, They find themselves stumbling upon tragic, immediate, medical needs. And above all, they are met with unbelievable love that pours from a country that seems to materially have nothing. Join the founders of Ordinary Hero Foundation on this journey through their ORDINARY life! Witness the power of adoption, serving those less fortunate, and the reality of life in a third world filled with orphans. Be inspired to CHANGE THE WORLD FOR ONE simply by being ORDINARY!

 We want to share our journey with you because we want you to touch ONE person. To show them love when they feel forgotten.

Purchase your ticket for this August 20 event and get more info here. 

If you are interested in hosting a viewing of this documentary in YOUR area, please contact 

Ordinary. Documentary Trailer from Ordinary Hero on Vimeo.

INSTAGRAM #ordinaryhero

Do you have an INSTA? Follow Ordinary_hero and hashtag #ordinaryhero #changetheworldforone. We love seeing and sharing all the cuteness! Celebrate adoption, foster care, foster-to-adopt, family, love! Big thanks to all of you who hashtagged us in these photos of your adorable world changers! CHANGE THE WORLD FOR ONE! 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

See Jane In Ethiopia!

Jane Rhodes is a lifestyle blogger, artist, graphic designer and mother of four. Her blog and instagram reaches thousands. She recently traveled to Ethiopia with her daughter on an Ordinary Hero dental team this summer. 

"Myla and I went on our first Ordinary Hero mission in June. I still don’t have the right words for the experience. I shared a few of the highlights on instagram @see_jane, and I created the video above to remember as many details as possible."

She captured her experience beautifully in this video she put together. Thank you, Jane and Myla, for serving with OH this summer! 

Ethiopia 2015 from Jane Rhodes on Vimeo.

Monday, August 10, 2015

In The News In Knoxville, TN!

 Check out this news story in Knoxville, TN featuring OH team leader, Sabrina Freeland! Sabrina tells of her time and experience leading a team to Ethiopia in July to serve children and families in need. Sabrina's 12 year old son joined her on this trip and together they were able to spend time with their sponsored child while serving children in need and advocating for sponsorship in one of the world's poorest countries. 

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Speaking Up For Sponsorship!

Alison and Richard Weakley, from TN, are 10 kids strong....through sponsorship, that is! Having been on two Ordinary Hero Ethiopia trips, they have learned to come back and use their passion for what they experienced and what they saw in Ethiopia, to SPEAK UP! In May they spoke of their experience serving in Ethiopia at McKendree United Methodist Church and again in July at Mt Carmel United Methodist, sharing pictures and stories of their time in Ethiopia. Their voice of advocacy resulted in 10 children finding sponsorship and over $600 in donations!

Alison and Richard sponsor two children in Ethiopia, themselves. During their time in Ethiopia with the Ordinary Hero team, they were able to visit with their sponsor children and see their homes. This personal experience is what drives their passion for children in need. They have personally seen how these children live and the impact of sponsorship and how it changes lives.....even their own.

Friday, July 24, 2015

The Personal Hope That Led This YOUNG Girl To Sponsor A Child

Nine years ago I stumbled upon many young teen girls living at the TN Baptist Children's Home. I felt led to lead a bible study with them twice per month. During these bible studies I learned so much about these young girls and their hard lives that led them to live in a children's home. More than anything else, they all longed for the love of a family. I tried my best to remind them of the love of God in their lives during such a hard road they were all walking. Although these girls lived in a children's home, which is a modern day orphanage, I could clearly see that God had pulled them from their circumstances and struggles in life and placed them there because He had called them to greatness. The constant struggle as their bible study leader was to remind them of this greatness when they felt so alone. 

I recently received a message from one of the girls I taught so long ago. She is now in her young twenties. 

Her road has not been an easy one. I remember walking her through some very difficult times in her teens and then I met with her after she graduated when she was searching for direction and meaning in her life. Her most recent message was very unexpected and simply just brought me to tears. 

Her name popped up in my facebook with a simple message stating...

"I want to sponsor a child!!!!" 

I responded and said, "That is so awesome! The sponsorships are $52.50 per month. Are you sure you are able to commit to that? What has made you want to sponsor a child?"

This is her response that I wanted to share. 

It has to do with my past and all the hopes and dreams I had of being adopted, even though I was unadoptable. I had all of these unrealistic expectations from people & relationships. I literally made myself miserable with the all-consuming desire I had of finding a forever family. I was very bitter and resentful towards my family & others. It has taken me a long time to come to terms that I would never have that family I pictured and that I could either accept that or continue my pity party. Well I decided to accept my life for all that it is....and its wonderful!! God has blessed me beyond measure and has placed so many Godly men and women in my life!! I know there is a reason I grew up where I did and I know God is going to use that!!! I have so much love for children waiting to be adopted, whether that is in the foster system here in the states or around the world waiting to be adopted or cared for!! I know what it's like to wait...even if you know that dream will never come true, we all hold on to hope!! I've prayfully considered this and this is what God is calling me to do right now!!! I can definitely commit to 1 year of $52.50 a month!! 

When she saw the little girl's picture she responded with this...

I want to sponsor her!!! Immediately when I saw her picture a flood of emotion washed over me. She is so beautiful & I just hope she knows how precious she is, and God sees her every want, need, & desire!!!

Wow! I believe there are so many lessons in this for all of us! With her permission I have shared her words. This is not just about sponsorship. Yes, if this young girl can sponsor a child and want to make a difference with what little she has, then why are there so many excuses not to. 

But her words ring true of so much more than that. She is a picture of God's love, forgiveness, mercy and grace! She was an older child that we see so often get lost and forgotten about in the system and lost in this world trying to discover who they are. Her words give us a glimpse into the heart of an older child living in this country without a family. But in the midst of her own struggles she grabbed onto hope and God's unending love for her and she has found purpose for her own pain and struggles. Oh, how it takes most of us a lifetime to find these truths and this hope and assurance of God's love and purpose in our lives! 

Thank you, Chante, for reminding all of us that God works ALL THINGS together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. Thank you for reminding us of the simple act of accepting where we are in life even when it is not what we dreamed it would be. 

And THANK YOU for being an Ordinary Hero to little Roza! This little girl lives on the bare minimum in Ethiopia as her HIV-positive mother struggles to care for her. Now her life is about to change! Through your own waiting in life you learned many valuable lessons. Thank you for allowing this little girl to WAIT NO MORE. 

She doesn't know how lucky she is to have such an amazing sponsor that loves her from across the ocean! I can't wait for you to travel with us and meet her one day! 

For more information on our sponsorship program, please contact