We want to continue with our blog posts on our trip to Ethiopia.
Day 4 was last Sunday and also our last day in Ethiopia. We decided to attend a small church in the Korah, trash dump, area in Addis. This church is a very small building held together by sticks, mud, and tin. The church has grown to the point that they now meet outside the church doors under a tin roofed covering because they cannot fit into the small building.
As I sat in this small church, listening to these men, women, and children, not just worshiping, but crying out to God for provision and healing in their bodies, I couldn't help but think of our churches in the States. We have our convenient parking, accessible bathrooms, cushioned seating, PA systems, children's programs, and most of the time, feel good messages, which make you think about God, sometimes for the first time all week. The reality is that "Hey, we live in America, so why shouldn't we have all those things?" In reality, those things in America are very basic, it is true. But the saddest realization for me, is that in America, most of the time.....it isn't enough. We are consumed with church growth, numbers, attendance, and the focus of becoming bigger and better, more comfortable, more entertaining, and sometimes keeping the focus on the attendee rather than God.
I realize this isn't the case for all churches, but as we live in the day of mega churches growing rapidly and technology entering our pulpits, it really struck a chord with me when you travel a world away and see the poor, the sick, the weak, the diseased, and the children stripped of everything mentioned above except Jesus....He is all they have and He is there with them in a powerful way.
It truly is convicting.
Many would look at this church from the outside and think by the looks of things, they don't have much. But in reality, their deep faith and dependency on God allows them to tap into the Holy Spirit in ways that convicted me of my own reliance on God.
We make so much in America all about our own comfort that sometimes I think we miss God. These beautiful people that live with nothing on a daily basis aren't people that are worried about comfort. They are worried about where their next piece of bread will come from. They are worried about the Leprosy and the HIV that continues to infest their community.
As I watch the little toddlers wearing torn rags and walking barefoot in front of me on a sort of lava rock that covers the ground, I realize these people don't need comfort or fluffy messages....they need God. He is their only hope and they know that without a doubt.
As I looked around the room, I see many blind, broken, and leprous. It truly is a scene from the bible.
As I run across this Pastor, below, standing with one of the blind men in the service, I see the joy that comes from his face toward his people. These Pastors are standing in the gap for them, as they, themselves, know what it is like to grow up living in the trash dump.
The neat thing is that these Pastors were led to the Lord by our OH representative, Bissy, whom I have talked about before. Bissy has a powerful testimony which we will be sharing at a later date. But he was brought into the city as a country shepherd boy, tied to the top of a truck, and left on the side of the road because he was professing that he believed in Jesus. After wandering and starving for three days, he finally made his way to live in the trash dump. With absolutely nothing but Jesus, he began going from home to home and telling people about the hope he has through Christ who gives him strength. He continued with a bible study and today this church is Pastored by the same people he led to the Lord many years ago.
We decided we did not want to simply visit the church, but we wanted to feed the entire church in a feast after the service was over. So, you mention feast in Ethiopia and what does that mean? You guessed it....sheep! It is one of their special meals that they only eat on holidays because it is too costly.
Before church we stopped at the sheep market and purchased 5 sheep to feed the entire church.
During the service the sheep, wood, and spices were brought in and prepared.
A team of men and women and a few of their little helpers joined together behind the church and used skills I had never seen before to prepare this meal on open fire, after the sheep was slaughtered.
All the children were brought inside the small church and lined the walls and piled in to be the first ones fed in the church.
They were so excited. Many of them live off bread and water that is found in the trash dump and today they were feasting on a Christmas dinner!
Injera and sheep were distributed to the entire church that day. We traveled to Ethiopia and asked God to show us where to go to bless His people. He led us to this tiny church in the middle of one of the poorest communities in Addis.
Their little faces say it all. We went in to bless them and we were more humbled and blessed than ever to have the opportunity to show them that we, and God, love them.
Of course, each time we travel to Ethiopia we take our sponsored kids along with us to serve. We look forward to seeing them each trip. They, themselves, are a part of this community, but today they learned the blessing of being able to give back as they served right alongside us.
This was an awesome day! We made lots of new friends, and have added this section of the Korah community to our list of places to serve and find child and family sponsorships for in the coming months. If you are interested in sponsoring a child and their family, or offering support to this church, please email Kelly@ordinaryhero.org for more info.
We will be visiting them in December on our next team trip. (which there are a few spots left, if you would like to join us :-)
After church we walked through the community on our way to visit a blind mother in need that we had heard about. We bumped into THE MOST PRECIOUS little girl tagging along holding her mother's skirt. She was dressed in a dirty, torn, somewhat white, little princess looking dress with no shoes and a smile that would absolutely melt your heart!
She also LOVED having her picture taken!
Beauty shines from the little ones in this community. We can't help but think how far they could soar with a simple sponsorship. We have seen it in our own sponsored children and the confidence they now have to become something great in life and to help their community. We want every child to experience this. We believe that the next generation is who will rise up to help turn their community around.
It's up to us to help them rise :-)
We continued on to meet the blind mother, walking down a stoney, dirt path, lined with mud and grass shacks.
We found her living in her small, one room, mud home, in the dark.
She was glad we came to visit her. Her son is sponsored by a past OH mission team member who asked us to check in on her. When asked about her blindness, all she said was that she has been blind since she was 4 years old and has never been to the Dr to find out why. We hope to get her to a Dr to check on her condition.
After we left Korah, we stopped in to visit another one of our little friends, Nati. He was so glad to see us. He had been sending us messages asking when we were coming.
We asked him to join us for the rest of the day to help us serve :-)
This being our last day in Ethiopia, we stopped by Hope 4 The Hopeless one last time to say goodbye to the kids. They were anxiously waiting for us when we arrived. This ministry that we have partnered with, is truly AMAZING! They find street children in desperate need and pull them off the streets and bring them to their shelter where they pull the street out of them and pour Jesus into them.
The spirits of these kids are truly unbelievable. I wish they had a model we could use in America, because the way they transform these kids lives is truly admirable.
Meron and I bonded in the summer in some powerful ways. She is braiding my hair for me before I leave.
She was so excited when she got done. She is working on her English but she kept saying "fashion" over and over and would giggle. :-) She gave me a true, beautiful, "fashion"!
The Hope 4 The Hopeless Ministry was started by Pastor Surafel, who now resides in Arizona. It just so happened that he was there this week and we got to meet him in person. His own personal story about where he came from and later found his way to America, only to return to help these children of his country is truly amazing! He has struggled with providing for this ministry and his tears streaming down his face as he prayed for us, thanking God for allowing us to find them, showed his unbelievable faith, thankfulness, and trust in God.
We look forward to our continued partnership with H4H and God's great plans for their ministry.
SO WHAT HAVE WE DECIDED ABOUT THE BETH MEMORIAL FUND IN ETHIOPIA?
We rode out to look at a facility that we are believing God for.
This whole trip was planned to put our feet on the ground and find out what God wants us to do with Beth's Memorial Fund. Along with the most amazing people and ministries we have run across and will continue to partner with, we feel God calling us to launch a life center in Beth's name. We have many ideas, but are still waiting on clarity as to the building and all the many ways God has planned for us to bless people with it. It could truly be amazing and life changing for so many children in need and a way that Beth's life can continue on and on to bless the beautiful children she loved so much.
More info will be coming as to the details of the life center in the coming months. We are so excited to see what God can do to take one life and bless so, so many with it.
The little one above was clinging himself to Michael for a fun ride across the dirt. It is also a picture of how these children's lives can be changed, one by one, because Michael chose to allow his wife's death to take him across the world to be a vessel for these kids to cling themselves to in order to find hope and a future. I feel this trip for Michael was truly eye opening and healing. After going through the pain of losing his beautiful wife two months ago, he was able to see so many lives that can be transformed because of the life that Beth lived. God opened many doors in Ethiopia for Michael as he quietly walked along each path that God took him down.
Thanks to God for using Beth's fund to continue to expand beyond belief and thanks to Michael for choosing to march forward into the next chapter of his life to find many doors opened in honor of the life his wife lived. The future has amazing things in store for these beautiful children.
Next our journey takes us to Cape Town, South Africa!
Our minds were blown at the ways God opened doors for us to bless some of the children living in a township with scholarships and hope for their future!!
It was one of the most touching experiences of our entire trip!