Thursday, March 25, 2010
Monday, February 22, 2010
I'm still struggling in that place.
We are working on a few things so we can share this burden, to help give LIFE to the children living in these deplorable conditions, to make it easier to help the people living in the pictures above. Its taking some time but there are plans in the works to make a long term difference. Stay tuned. We'll have something together SOON.
In the meantime I challenge anyone reading this blog to not only pray for the people living in the dump in Addis, the people living in Korah but foraging for food daily in the dump, the children who only know these living conditions. While your praying I would also ask that you consider making a difference by showing action and financially supporting this cause once we work out those details. I know there are always other things we can spend our money on, believe me I count myself and my family in on this challenge. We consider it an honor and a privilege to have served among these people yet we came home with an even bigger burden to put into action what we say we believe.
I've quoted it before. Isaiah 1:17-20 - learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow. "Come now, let us reason together," says the Lord. "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land; but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword." For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.
( These two pictured above were at lunch with their mother, she was frail and probably hadn't eaten a decent meal in months in not longer. She fed her babies and only after us urging her to eat and that there was plenty did she take any for herself.)
That passage a little hard to swallow? Imagine eating your next meal straight from the garbage can located at your nearest convenience store. We were blessed to be able to take 120 men, women, and children to lunch. Probably one of the few REAL meals this little guy has ever eaten. Watching them, listening to their testamonies and loving on them blessed our team far more then we did for them by filling their tummies.
If Isaiah was a little tough how about we look in Luke 14:26 - If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life he cannot be my disciple. What exactly does that mean? Does that mean we need to hate our kids? I think the idea here is that we MUST love God more then we do anyone or anything else, even our own selves, we must be willing to give up EVERYTHING to follow Him.
HE asks us to care for the orphan and widow HE commands us to love one another HE says if our faith is merely words that its as good as dead. I take that pretty seriously. I like James 1:27 out of The Message, it says it so plainly I'll quote it here: Anyone who sets himself up as "religious" by talking a good game is self-deceived. This kind of religion is hot air and only hot air. Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world. Pretty much a put your money where your mouth is kind of verse. All of James 2 is a great read on this very topic. I'll quote only a small portion about faith and deeds - James 2:18 says: But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds." Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. Prove it by our actions in other words. Finally in verse 26 of the same chapter is says this: As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead. DEAD. Faith in ACTION is required. We do it out of the overflow of the love our Father has lavished on us. Nothing more. Nothing less. All glory to HIM and HIM alone.
The faith of this man pictured with us above challenged our group, humbled us, made us weep, and encouraged us to our very core. We love you Sammy!! Thank you for loving on the least of these in Addis. What will you do to make a difference?
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
I posted this on our family blog - as I process through this journey I'll post here for those who read this and for the people following our teams trip to Ethiopia. If anyone else from the team has anything to post please do! Thank you all for your prayers and support!! Davids working on a video - we'll post it after he's finished!
Never before has this process felt so painful. I remember being in Ethiopia and sharing with the team that I felt I'd have an easier time working through what I'd seen simply because "I've been there before". So. Not. The. Case. Its worse. I feel the burden so much deeper. I feel the cutting away of my calloused heart so much more. My gut is in turmoil much of the time. I can't keep silent any longer. I feel like screaming from the rooftops about the babies we saw, the starving children also without adequate clothing or shoes, the families foraging for food in the dump, the severe need for us Christians to take ACTION. To put our money where our mouth is to put our faith into ACTION. I'm struggling. I'm looking at my own self and my own desires and trying to work through what God wants from me. How can I properly tell the story of so many of my now family in Ethiopia that is struggling so much. How can I do them justice by sharing their pain with each of you. What can WE do together to make a difference in their lives? Its a process. David and I don't have the answers. We have some ideas but we're still working through all of those details.
I had a friend write me earlier this week with the question of why I said we were "wrecked" if truly we were being "fixed" in our heart of hearts. If God was doing a work in our hearts and breaking us even further for the things that break His heart aren't we really gaining vs. losing as the term "wrecked" implies. It got me thinking. While I agree with the gain part of seeing people like Jesus sees them I feel as if there is a certain "wrecking" that must happen in order to get to that point. In my own heart I have wrestled with how I can make a difference, I've had to be refined and the calloused parts of my heart worn down to see what Jesus sees when he looks into the eyes of the orphan and widow. To fight for justice, to fight for the oppressed. I think this is the case for all of us. I watched it happen to our entire team as each day they were a little more burdened, a little more broken, a LOT more wrecked for the things that break our Saviors heart. I guess you could call it a bit of a Holy Wrecking! A welcomed wrecking, a needed wrecking on a heart that so desperately needs Jesus and HIS love, without Him I am nothing.
In Isaiah 1:17 it says learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause. This is an ACTION verse. I love that the ESV version says "correct oppression". That means we have to DO something. We are called to show our faith in deeds, faith without deeds is dead. While verse 17 is great, if we read further on we are challenged even further. Verses 18-20 say this:
"Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red like crimson,
they shall become like wool.
If you are willing and obedient,
you shall eat the good of the land; but if you refuse and rebel,
you shall be eaten by the sword; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken."
I was so convicted about the last part of verse 20, not only are we to defend the cause of the orphan and widow but God is so serious, if we are obedient to His call the reward is GREAT even in our sacrifice for the cause of others but the threat of death is also there should we rebel against his command! I'm thinking that's pretty serious, how about you?
Here are a few more pictures from our trip.
This picture sparks so much inside of me, watching my husband act out being a father to the fatherless makes me fall in love with him all over again. Melts me.
Our brother Sammy, an amazing man of God, forever woven into our family.
Our sweet girls from Tamoca, they came back every afternoon looking for us, the relationship we forged with the shop owner through them was amazing.
talking about the supplies we brought and explaining how to properly utilize them.
The story behind this smile is amazing. God saw fit to allow her to be taken off the street, it was an honor to be the ones to work out those details. Glory to HIS name.
Nichol and one of the sweet babies she fell in love with.
Aren't these little choir kids precious? They sang to our King and melted our hearts. So sweet!
Thursday, January 28, 2010
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Ethiopia Days 1 and 2.
I didn’t get time to blog yesterday so today you’ll get a double dose.
Sunday morning we went to Beza International Church – it was our first
time there but I had heard so many wondeful things about the church
David and I decided to give it a try. It was AMAZING. We were
challenged to live a life of praise in ALL things, incredible time and
we all came away with a desire to go yet deeper with our Jesus.
We went to NY Pizza for lunch with Tamara who works with the HIV +
compound in Entoto. Later we headed up the mountain to share in the
lives of those living with the virus. I was amazed as each of them
opened their home to us, some made coffee for us, gave us something to
eat when they really couldn’t afford to do either. To hear their
hearts and understand what its like to live with HIV in Africa is
heartbreaking. To hear words like segregated and outcast it puts a
whole new light on just what this means for these women and their
families. The shame, the pain, and the knowledge that one day this
will take their life. To listen as they shared how they acquired the
virus, the hopes and dreams they have for their children and the
In the evening we had our first team debrief which was amazing.
Listening to what the Lord is doing in each persons heart is precious
to watch. God has truly knit our team together in a way only He
could. I know several of you have been praying for unity, not that we
didn’t have unity but a unity only God could do. He’s done it, the
unique dynamic we have is truly amazing. God is so so good.
Monday morning we got up early for devotions, David challenged us to
get our hands dirty, to love on, to touch, and let the Spirit move in
un as we see these kids. Often not clean, having rashes, among them
all, David read about Jesus and how he went to the areas of town where
the poorest of the poor are, the places people would NEVER go. Thats
how we need be, Jesus to those who otherwise are ignored. We started
a little tradition of prayer in the courtyard before we leave. Today
Peter joined us from CFI – it was so great to hear more of his heart
and talk with him about his ministry here in Ethiopia. We went for a
visit to Peters project with CFI. I love this ministry so much.
Peter has an incredible heart and his ministry shows it. When we
pulled in the kids were shouting “Peter, Peter, Peter” – it shows the
deep love the kids have for him and his love for them is so obvious.
Peter was so thankful for all of the donations we were able to bring
from the generous families who gave. THANK YOU for making a
difference! It’s humbling to be one of the ones that get to
participate in all this. We sang songs, played games, and made
bookmarks and bracelets with the kids. They loved it! Later in the
afternoon we went to the other center Peter has in Kechene, there are
over 100 kids at that center there who receive breakfast, lunch, and
an education through Peters work in the community. They were all over
us, many of us could hardly move through the sea of sweet little faces
reaching their hands up for any form of human touch. They are loved
but they don’t have much one on one attention. They fight over who
will hold them or carry them, whose hand they will hold and they beg
to have their picture taken. It’s overwhelming and wonderful all at
once. Being Jesus to these sweet kids is such a blessing. The one
thing that stood out to me was a little girl who had fallen down and
was crying, David leaned down and asked if she was okay. Once she
looked at him she threw her arms around his neck as he scooped her up.
An amazing picture of being a father to the fatherless. I melted.
After Kechene we headed over to our agencies transition home, there
are so many kids waiting for their forever families. I love going
back there, I remember the day we picked Silas up so so clearly. It
was awesome for Rachel to see where her sweet babe will come from. As
always amazing to see Almaz and Tsegaye as well as Mame the nanny and
Smegn the cook.
Tonight Rachel, Alicia, and the kids had Ethiopian food for the first
time. It was a photographed moment, they all loved it!
A late night debrief at Tamoca was in order after our long day! We go
through and talk about our day and how were affected by the events of
the day. It’s a great way to process things and it really helps the
kids. Coffee was great, company awesome! We had the opportunity to
love on some street kids. Nichol was having a hard time drinking her
coffee and watching these two girls standing at the door waiting for
us to buy a stick of gum. After a few I asked David if we could
invite them for coffee, he agreed and told Nichol to go buy them
coffee and that they can come sit with us. The grin on her face made
me realize just how hard she’s taking all of this. Her little heart
is being wrecked for Jesus and we just need prayer that we would see
that and cultivate it to His honor and glory. Being there with those
girls was a definite highlight from my day. Hannah and Nichol were
Jesus with skin on and it brings tears to my eyes just thinking about
those two powerhouses encouraging others in loving well. These kids
are all amazing and watching them with these sweet kids is incredible.
Saturday, January 23, 2010
The biggest thing was in Tampa we had too many bags and didn't realize it until the morning we left. With all the donations and really needing every bag we prayed fervently and trusted the Lord with the details. ALL of our bags were checked FREE. A sweet Ethiopian checked us in and he was thrilled with what we were doing and loved that he could help. To God be the glory!