WE’RE GOING BACK TO ETHIOPIA!
Recently God has been confusing us.
It all started with our family’s move back to Memphis, TN in July. Karyn and I thought getting back to Memphis would pave our way back to where our hearts long to be – Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Well, about as soon as we were settled into our Memphis routine, it appeared that God was putting people, signs, messages – you name it – in our path to point us to stay put… indefinitely. It just made sense for several reasons – The Forsaken Children (TFC) wouldn’t have to find someone else to manage it, we could stay in Memphis where we feel most at “home”, our extended family would be happy to keep us around, and the list goes on.
Then came what we believed would be the final nail in the coffin of our dream to return to Ethiopia; the Holy Spirit prompted me to read the book of Nehemiah. To Karyn and me, Nehemiah is like the quintessential Executive Director’s book to effective leadership. I begrudgingly thought, great, God wants me to read this so he can confirm that we are not going back to Ethiopia.
As I read Nehemiah, God started to speak to my heart. What I heard in my spirit wasn’t what I expected. Sure, Nehemiah is a rock star leader – a true Exec – but God did not draw me into Nehemiah’s leadership techniques, but rather into his burden and enthusiasm to rebuild Jerusalem’s wall. Jerusalem’s crumbling wall became a metaphor for a little girl God placed on my heart.
This little Ethiopian girl, herein called E to protect her privacy, had not crossed my mind for some time. She is the most visibly broken child I have ever interacted with in Ethiopia. As I read Nehemiah, thoughts of E poured into the forefront of my mind… thoughts of her fits of rage, her constant manipulation to receive any and all attention (good or bad), and her tendency to change from a sweet, innocent little girl to a crazy-eyed fighting machine.
I wish I could say that my thoughts of E were loving and compassionate, but I honestly cringed when she came back to mind. BUT there she was, my wall – broken, beat down, and hopeless much as was Jerusalem’s wall in Nehemiah’s time.
As I continued to read Nehemiah, E continued to pop in my mind. At first this was very confusing, but then it became clear to me what God was saying:
E, like so many of the children TFC exists for, needs many things. However, the one thing I know she needs more than anything else is the one thing I have been trained to potentially provide her – a family.
I don’t think E or any child needs a family more than they need God! BUT, I have come to believe that many children, E for sure, may never see and understand God without first seeing and experiencing a loving, consistent, and permanent primary caretaker (mom and/or dad) here on earth – Jesus in the flesh so to speak.
Therein lies our passion for foster care/adoption within the Ethiopian context. Ethiopian families are a strategic resource for us as we seek to minister to abandoned or orphaned children like E. Such families are a mechanism for solidifying that God as father doesn’t mean an abusive, neglectful, nonexistent God, but rather a loving, consistent, and very real Father-God.
So, thanks to Nehemiah, our hearts have reclaimed our burden to be back on the field in Ethiopia. First and foremost, we see our role there as one that we are uniquely made to fill for such a time as this. A time when many children have come into TFC’s care who lack the family they were created for. We believe there will be many more children to come, and that the solution is to pour ourselves into TFC’s emerging Ethiopian foster and adoption program until it can be sustained by our Ethiopian brothers and sisters.
Pray with us as we anticipate our transition back to Ethiopia at the end of 2014.
Specific Prayer Requests and Praises:
Jack (7) – He has fond memories of living in Ethiopia as a 2 and 3 year old so he is excited to return. However, as our anxious child (much like his dad), he occasionally becomes fearful of the transition.
Joe – As he prepares for the rigor of being on the field, faced with overwhelming need daily, pray for wisdom as to how he can prepare himself with knowledge, accountability, and spiritual wisdom.
Praise: Joe has been given the great opportunity to refine his foster/adoptive parent training through a contact in NC. He will be trained as a trainer in a new/better model that focuses on traumatized children’s needs.
McLaine (5) – She is such a sweet little angel until she is stressed, tired or hungry. In other words, please pray for her attitude (and our patience) as we approach this transition, which will certainly bring fatigue, hunger and stress.
Karyn – Transitioning away from her dear friends and family will be her biggest struggle. Pray for her to boldly initiate new friendships. Also pray for Karyn as she starts to homeschool Jack and McLaine.
Praise: Karyn has many friends who homeschool their children, who are helping her navigate the complexities of being a new homeschool mom once we’re in Ethiopia.
Silas – As our blond haired, blue-eyed 3-year-old, he will receive the most attention in Ethiopia. Pray for him to be flexible (divinely so… this is not our parental expectation) and receptive to the attention.
Pray with us as TFC builds up its capacity here in the US necessary to fulfill our mission. Someone must be employed here to free us tomove back to the field.
Praise: TFC’s Board of Directors has grown into a team of people who are willing and able to release us to the field.
Pray for the precious street children of Ethiopia, and especially that many families will step-up to care for those children who lack this very important piece – their own family – for both physical and spiritual development.
Pray for the Ethiopian men and women who do the amazing work involved in rescuing children from the streets. They are our heroes and need your constant covering in prayer: Nega, Teramaj, Mesfin, Alex, Alemayu, Taye, Fetla, Ribika, Netsenet, Terekegn, Yonas, and those others not listed here.