Statistics show that there are over 153 million orphans in the world. To put that in perspective, the population of Tennessee, Kentucky, and Georgia combined make up ONLY about 21 million people.
But the reality is, majority of Americans, the most resourced people in the world, are either unaware or unequipped to act.
In honor of #OrphanSunday and #OrphanAwarenessMonth, we want to tell you a story that hopefully inspires you to change the world for one. Stories must be told in order to turn statistics into people. Below is the story of a 19-year-old girl from one of our partner ministries in Ethiopia. This ministry rescues street children and orphans, shares the love of Jesus with them, and houses them amongst three Centers. Lemlem, a friend of many, gives us a rare perspective into what it’s like to spend your life growing up in an orphanage. Lemlem told us that we could share her story with anyone, so that people may be inspired. So… Be inspired.
“My name is Lemlem. I am 19 years old. I am from Ethiopia, which is in Africa. My mom passed away when I was 4 years old. This was a hard time for me even though I was a kid, because there was no one who could take care of me at that time. I didn’t have any relatives. Just me, 4 years old, by myself. I still don’t know who my father is, but I heard that when my mom was pregnant with me he left her. He was a car driver and passed away in a car accident. That is all I know about my father.
But after my parents passed, there was a woman that told my mom’s neighbor about an orphanage that has kids who lost their parents. After that they put me in the orphanage, and I began a new life.
I was a happy girl. I accepted Jesus Christ as my savior and started a relationship with Jesus. I began a new life with others orphans. Everybody had his or her own story to tell. We loved each other and we were like brothers and sisters. It felt like home. But still, it was a hard life without parents. I was very jealous when I saw children with their parents. I asked God so many times why he took my family away from me.
I felt more pain about losing my parents once I grew up and understood things better. The different things people would say about orphans made me really mad and I became ashamed of being an orphan. Since most orphans in Ethiopia had bad behavior, people thought that if you were an orphan you were bad. They gave you less expectation. I was just getting tired of being an orphan. I started complaining about my life and arguing with God every day. Sometimes I would get depressed. Sitting on my bed and seeing my mom’s picture, I would cry.
Then I started to hear about adoption and stuff like that a lot around me and some kids from my orphanage started getting taken to the USA. My mind started thinking about that every single day. One day before I went to bed I asked God one thing, just one thing, to give me a family. To give me another family who can take care of me, love and care about me, and tell me what is good or bad. That was it. I was crying when I asked him that question. I was very hopeless. After that day I just kept asking God to give me a family day after day.
But God didn’t answer my question for one whole year.
After I finished sophomore year, during the summer I heard that I had a family who wanted to bring me to the US. That was the best day of my life!! I went to my room and prayed to God for forgiveness for going away from him, for complaining about my life, and I thanked Him for giving me a family. I saw my life change in about 1 year or less. I started my process and got my passport in one month. It was like a dream come true for me. God is good all the time. He wipes away every tear. My favorite verse is John 14:18, “I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you.” He did not leave me as an orphan, He came to me and changed my future.
I learned through all of this that God has His own perfect timing and His timing is better than mine. I also learned to not only thank him when things are good, but also when things go wrong. Thank Him through everything. When we do that, blessing comes to our life and we make God happy.
I am very thankful to God for not letting me down! I now have my family, friends, and people around me who love and care about me. Now I am attending school in America and it is such a blessing for me. I am in 12th grade and I am going to graduate this year from High School.
I have many plans for the future. I want to be a photojournalist and a missionary, and the reason why is because I want to help orphans, street children, and teenagers. My heart hurts when I see those kids. I want to see a smile on their face and tell them the gospel. I believe that God put a passion in everyone’s heart and I believe mine is to help others. I have had a passion to do that from a very young age… Open an orphanage and give hope to the hopeless… a smile to a sad face. My dream is to help these kids by gaining photography skills, taking pictures of them, telling their stories through magazines, and creating fundraising opportunities. I believe that I can do it with God’s help.”
If you have adopted or are in the process of adopting, today we honor you and believe the step of faith you have taken truly has ‘changed the world for one’… or two. Or ten!
If your heart is beating to do more, below are some ways you can get involved. There is a next step for everyone to take.
How to Get Involved:
Sponsorship: We believe sponsoring a family living in extreme poverty is the first step in reducing the number of orphans. Many times children living in orphanages actually do have relatives or a parent still alive, but they are too poor to take care of their child. Sponsorship for $50.00/month provides basic necessities for families trying their best to survive, and ultimately keeps families together. To sponsor a child, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Become a Change Partner: Partner with us and our mission. Our heartbeat is to see children thrive whether that be through adoption or in their own community. We would love for you to partner with us financially as an honorary Change Partner, and you will receive a monthly update from the field on the change your monthly donation is making possible, one life at a time. To become a Change Partner, follow the link: https://interland3.donorperfect.net/weblink/weblink.aspx?name=E247624&id=12
Take a Trip: “Orphans are easier to ignore before you know their names. They are easier to ignore before you see their faces, it’s easier to pretend they are not real before you hold them in your arms. But once you do, everything changes” – David Platt
If you truly have a heart to make a difference in the life of a child in need, come and see the need for yourself. It will change your life! We take teams to Ethiopia all throughout the year, and we would love for you to join us. Follow the link below for trip dates. http://www.ordinaryhero.org/action/ethiopia.php
Pray about Adopting: Do you feel like God is calling you to adopt? There are many agencies that make international adoption possible for the country of your choice, and we recommend researching those options. For domestic adoptions, consider looking for more information at
Advocate: Maybe you’re in college with no money in your pocket, but a heart full of dreams to help those in need. Become an advocate. Share this post and future posts. There is power in awareness, and who knows, your share could inspire another to adopt or sponsor, resulting in changed lives.
We are honored to play our part in orphan awareness. Thank you for standing with us! #ChangetheWorldForOne