Friday, August 2, 2013

Real Needs

While I was in Ethiopia, one fear kept gnawing at me.

It wasn't the fear that my stomach was going to have another repulsion impulse with such a different environment.
It wasn't the fear of wildlife as the man taking us through the nature reserve casually informed us that they had a wild leopard living in those parts.
It wasn't the fear of the adoption system in Ethiopia coming to a halt as I snuggled soft babies with dark eyes and longed for our referral to come sooner than later.
It wasn't even the fear that we were going to get into an accident, as our driver navigated his way over two lane highways while avoiding the children playing on the side and dodging the cattle meandering casually on the road.

It was the fear of apathy when I went home.

After seeing haunting eyes, beautiful ministries, and hearing tales that made my stomach churn. After being kissed by the shoe-less yet joyful poor, holding a mentally disabled boy in the most hopeless room I've ever stepped into, and hearing a ten year old's stories of living for three years on the streets, I didn't want to lose the sincerity and even desperation I felt that I had to live for something more than an American dream.

Steven and I prayed hard prayers, asking God to show us what steps He wanted us to take. He answered those prayers with a handful of different, tangible things He was calling us to do. One of those things, came when I least expected it...

We were about half way through our trip. We had just driven about 9 hours. Early that morning I had gotten sick and passed out on a hard, stone floor. My head and neck were in agony not only from the fall, but from the bumpy drive. We showed up in a village called Shone; we were told that this was the poorest place we were going to visit.  But to be honest, I was having a hard time being interested in where we were. I was just happy to be out of the van and slightly annoyed to find one more "squatty potty" (i.e. hole in the ground) as my only bathroom option.

Covenant Church in Addis Ababa had planted a local church in Shone. Not only were they starting up a small orphanage, but they tried to start up a sponsorship program two years earlier. These kids were truly the poorest of the poor. They had inducted 25 children into the program after 100 had applied. One of the 25 chosen children didn't even make it into the program. Shortly after being accepted she had cut her shoe-less foot on a rusty nail; got tetanus; and, for lack of basic medical care, died.

As we sat in a circle with some of these children, I noted that almost every shoe that these children had the "privilege" to wear had large holes in the bottom. I noticed that they didn't even try to swat away the flies that pestered their little faces. Then we discovered, through the translator, that not eating for 2-3 days was a completely normal situation.

Not eating for 2-3 days. 

I stared into the eyes of the little girl who the translator was referring to when he mentioned this. How could I even grasp such a thing?!? I feel grumpy if I eat lunch an hour late. Yet here were little ones the age of my children dealing with these kind of realities. Suddenly my head didn't hurt quite as much as I thought it did.

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And yet these kids had dreams. They lit up when asked what they wanted to be when they grew up. "I want to be an engineer." "...a teacher." "...a preacher."

Then we found out that out of the 24, only 2 were currently being sponsored. Only 2. In a village that's out of the normal path of any American visitors, they seemed forgotten. We found out that family "doing well" in that village makes about a $1 a week. Now if the people that make a $1 a week consider these kids to be the poor ones...we'll, it's kind of obvious. These kids needs sponsors!

So Steven and I felt God, who loves those children far more than we ever could, calling us to find sponsors for these sweet kids. Just from chatting with us, we've already have some friends step up to the plate, but we need more people willing to do this. The cost is $38 which is honestly almost like simply giving up one meal out with the family a month.

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Here's my favorite part about this sponsor program. It may seem foreign; but when you think about it, it's so beautiful. This program wants to build the children and their remaining family members into the local church and not into a dependency on "rich Americans." And since the church is the one doing the difficult work, we want them to get the credit for the care that these kids will be receiving. Because of these two reasons, the kids won't be told about their specific sponsors, and there won't be correspondence back in forth (though that also has something to do with the long trek to even get there). We believe that this humble position falls in line with Matthew 6:2-3:

“Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,  so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you."

Now here's your part. If you feel a tug on your heart, please consider being the sponsor of one of these kids. I've been there, I've seen their faces. These are real children in a real place.

If you are willing to do this or would like more information, please contact me at:

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