Yesterday I went with my family (and a few new friends who are here in town visiting) to see the young men who have been coming to hear about the bible at the local church here in Addis Ababa. We sat with them and listened to Ewnetu teaching from the bible and then spent some time getting to know them while they had lunch.
While I sat there, it felt like I was for the first time in a long time, seeing biblical selfless love in action. These young homeless men are digging into the word, and doing the seemingly impossible; picking themselves up from the bottom of the deepest darkest pit and starting the long climb back up to the top, all because of four Ethiopian men from the local church who are giving of their time, and resources to make this happen. I listened to the stories of the unthinkable things that have happened to these homeless guys in the past, and then seeing the hope in their eyes as they tell of the love of God, and the redemption they are experiencing… I saw, endurance, I saw Ewnetu, and the three other men from the church who are funding this project, giving all they have, and then some, and smiling while they do it.
These guys are marathoners, not sprinters, but real, long haul christians, giving their all to see real lasting change happen in the lives of others.
To be honest I was humbled yesterday, like a dagger was shooting into my heart with the truth; this is the kind of selfless giving that we are all called to. These guys from the church might not have as much money as many others do, but what they are giving is infinitely more valuable than money. They are sacrificing of their own lives, and giving the hope of Christ to others.
After we were done I leaned against the outside gate and was able to speak with Ewentu about how we might be able to help the work that they are doing.
“What is your plan for the future with these men” I asked, as I stood there feeling small next to his towering frame.
“We want to place these ten men who have graduated from the first phase of the program into a home.” He said as he gestured towards the small compound where the men were finishing up their lunch.
“It will be almost like a group home. Many of them have never lived in a home before and so we expect that there are going to be some adjustment issues, so we are planning to spend a lot of time working with them and helping them through this transition.
After they are in a home, and are adjusted we are going to have each of them start a training program so that they are able to get the skills they need to get work. Then, once they have a job and are able to we are going to ask that they start supporting their own living costs.
But the really exciting part is that after they go through these next steps in the program we are going to start working with them to reach other homeless men in the city. We feel that God has called these men not only to become Christians themselves, but also to reach others with the Gospel of Christ!”
Ewnetu said, his massive arms held near his sides and his hands were pressed tightly into his pockets, but his eyes were lit up and glowing with excitement. Almost as if he was uncomfortable in his own skin, but at the same time unable to contain the joy from the love of God that was flowing through him.
“How much will it cost for each of these men to go through this next phase of bible and work training?” I asked, as I leaned down to pick up my daughter who was dancing around my feet scuffing up dust from the rain thirsty earth beneath us.
“We have a small house that we can rent, and have already contacted a school that has agreed to enroll the men for work training. Each of them will be able to choose if they want to be a taxi driver, or if they would rather learn another skill such as waiting tables and we have found people in the church who have agreed to sign as the responsible party for each man.
Altogether the cost for each person, including food, clothing, rent, job training, transportation to and from school; comes out to $67 per person, per month.”
We continued to talk more about the specifics of how this might work if we were to help, and figured out a way that we can both be involved with the work personally, and help gather support financially.
For Jessie and I this project is something that hits close to home, with Bring Love In we will be helping to support widows and orphans here locally, but we feel called to help with discipleship of the men in Ethiopia as well, since… To be honest, many (but not all) of the reasons that children are orphaned stem from men who have not bee giving the training and foundation they need to own up to the responsibilities in their life.
We feel that this work is real New Testament discipleship happening with these men, men who outside of the efforts of Ewnetu and the guys from the church would have literally no opportunity to have Christ shared with them. There are probably several hundred thousand men just like them out on the streets in Ethiopia today, and these guys are getting to the place where they will be the catalyst to bring real and lasting change to so many more like them.
Today we want to open up an opportunity for you to come along on this journey with us as we apply our resources to help these young men grow to a new place in their personal lives and walk with Christ.
Jessie and I are going to go first. We are going to personally sponsor one of the ten men for the nine months of bible and work training program.
Will you sponsor one of the other nine? I bet if we work together we can give all of them an opportunity.
Here is what you can do if you want to help. Click here, to hop over to the donation page for Bring Love In, and there you can set up a new donation with the designation “Ten Young Men”. If you do not feel that you can afford a full sponsorship of $67 a month, give what you can, we will group them all together and hopefully get all of these men sponsored.
I am going to be updating this post in the coming days and letting you know how many of the men are sponsored. Once we get all ten, we will then be able to rent a house and get the work training school started.
This is a short video that I shot on my phone of Ewentu preaching (read, crappy sound and picture) it will help you get an idea of what the bible classes are like.