Once again I found myself today thanking God for all that He has done and all that he has brought us through, this post was originally written around the end of the summer last year, just as we were starting to get new children.  Today though I think it means more to me than ever.

This is a new season, a start of something new.

 

Yes we have spend years on this, decades really when you look back at all the preparing that God has been about, yet as we step back and look at what is happening today, the bigness of it all, it is clear.

 

This is a new time.

 

Both exciting, and to be perfectly honest, larger than it seemed when all the preparing was going on.

 

For those of you who are just joining us (and by the looks of the statistics on the site here there are many of you) I am going to start at the beginning before I get to the today part of my story here.

 

Jessie and I are imperfect people, in need of a savior as much as the next guy (often more).  We live in Addis Ababa Ethiopia with our four kids and we are daring to re-imagine the way orphans are cared for.

 

No, we are not incredible visionaries who are charting new territory, we simply took the ideas that were out there and applied them to this country, this culture.  What we came up with is this.

 

We create new forever families from widows that we find in the local churches, and we pair them with orphans that we take from the government orphanages.

 

Good stuff.  Stuff we are darn proud of.

 

We have lived here in Ethiopia for three and a half years now, the first two were spent rescuing children from a tribal superstition in the south of Ethiopia, and the last one and a half creating Bring Love In.

 

We don’t do this alone, not even close.  We are just the lucky ones who get to tell this story.  Today we have almost 30 full time staff members here, people who I could never find words to describe.  Good people.  And then there are the more than 500 people who have given financially since this work started, people from all over the world who are moved by what God is doing and stepped up to be a part of it.

 

About four months ago we started placing children in our families, then it was almost like family-bomb went off, and once they started coming, they just kept on coming!  Today, we have 45 children placed in seven families.

 

Let me just pause here.  Can those of us who have been on this journey together just thank God for what He has done? Can we all just clap our hands together for the beauty that is being created before our eyes?

 

I feel like we are perhaps the most blessed people on the face of this planet today.  We actually get to be here and be in these kids lives, watching as they feel the redemption of Christ for real.  It is good!

 

If there is one thing that I can say I love the most about being a missionary here in this place it is watching a child who was once abandoned given a new chance, a new family.  It is “right: like nothing else in this world is “right”.

 

But I am not writing this post to just tell you about what we have done, I feel that it is time for us to talk about where we are going.

 

I need to stop again though.  I need you to understand something.  Something important.  We don’t see this journey as “ours” meaning that we over here are doing this and you just get to read about it like you would read a newspaper, we see this as “ours” meaning that you, (yes you) who are reading this, you are a part of what is happening, and what is coming next.

 

So, when you read on here about where we are heading, please take pause and pray about what part of this journey is yours. Allow yourself to be moved.

 

Not only because we are excited about what already has happened, but because we are ready and on the edge of our seats to see what comes next.

 

So where are we headed?

 

This is the good part!

 

Today we feel that this is a season of depth, one of digging in deep to the kids lives who we have in our families. A time to take a step back and look at how things are running, how the mothers are filling out the shoes of their new roles, and how we can better serve them.

 

We are in this for the long haul, not only to see children taken from orphanages and placed in families, but to see those children raised up as the leaders who will turn the tides on what created so many orphans in the first place.

 

When we pray about what is next we feel peace that it is time to go deeper into the lives of the kids we have today, to make sure that nothing stands in the way of our giving them the future they deserve, and to learn all we can from what we have responsibility over today, so that we can do this well again tomorrow.

 

This means that for a time we will be not adding new families, but instead examining the ways that we are serving the ones we have now, and ensuring that all is in place to grow when the time comes, growth in both scope, and depth.

 

At the same time we are excited about focusing more of our time on our orphan prevention sponsorships, on helping give sustainable hope and a future to the families in our community who are barely holding onto the kids they have. We believe that there is no family like the one that you were born into, and just because you happened to be born into a poor family does not mean that you should not be given a chance. You will be hearing more about this in the coming weeks.

 

This next season is good, one that we have peace going into, like this great big God of ours is already here, calling us to come in and be with Him in this place.  To sit and look at what He has done, and find out how we can better serve the ones He has placed in our care.

 

Between the two programs that are up and running today we have more than 125 children who we care for.   This is a time of examining the ways that we can better serve these families, and of creating systems we use to measure progress so that future growth is both sustainable, and scalable without loosing quality of care.

 

Then, what next?  Where are we looking out to on the horizon?

 

This is the important part, the part that I hope we can all point to together and say “It is good”

 

Down the road we want to keep giving more families to as many orphans as we can and to keep the ones who are on the edge of abandonment home, we want to grow our scope as a support network for new forever families made up of widows and orphans, and also to continue to add as many orphan prevention families as possible.

 

We feel that ours is a calling to serve the poor, to bring hope, to give of the resources that are ours, and to never stop learning about how better to solve the problems that face so many millions of disadvantaged people in our world today.

 

Ours is a calling to shout the love of our God, to live it loud in the same way that His grace was given to us who do not deserve it.

 

Scandalous grace.

 

We will in turn do the same and our lives will be a big arrow pointing to Him.  The one who sent us, and gives us hope, and forgave us.

 

I recently heard Billy Hybels speak on leadership and he talked about how a great leader takes people from here to there, but must first describe how bad here is before anyone will want to follow him to there.

 

Today I could go on for hours about how bad the here is, how in driving around town today doing errands I encountered literally hundreds of mothers wandering the streets begging for their next meal, how I once slept a night on the streets of Addis and stared hopelessness in the face, young girls prostituting themselves to support their families, boys wrapped in sheets of plastic hiding from the cold, whole families struggling through every day with no hope of tomorrow being better.

 

But I don’t want us to go there, I don’t want us to focus on the bad that is in their lives because one day it will become to much for us and we will turn into ourselves and hide our eyes, instead I want us to focus on the hope that God gave us when we did not deserve it.  Because of the gift we received that we did not deserve, we in turn are giving to those who have never had a chance.

 

When I quiet myself to listen to God’s whisper I hear hope for an entire generation, I hear vision of a people rising up to the calling on their lives, a people supported by Christians from all over the world who are standing with them and saying “Yes, God is with you!”.

 

I believe today is a turning point for Bring Love In, for all of us as a community around the world who are getting together to create new families.  Today we enter a season of preparing for something even bigger than we ever dreamed of when this all started.

 

Are you with us?  Will you stand with us and fight for a generation that will bring change like never before?

 

We need you.

 

Levi

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