When does an orphan become not an orphan?
My question here is not about a child being adopted, or going into a program such as ours that provides a family, but rather for those who never do find a family, the countless children who grow up on the streets as children and one day find themselves as adults.
What happens to a child who is no longer a child, but never had a family either?
Jessie and I have been discussing the plight of the “grown orphan” for some time now and were thrilled when we found out that a few guys from one of the churches that we are partnering with here in Ethiopia have gotten together and are doing something to make a difference in the lives of several men who never had a chance to know the love of a family.
The project is simple, four men from the church have gotten together and everyday they meet and with a group of 25-30 young men (16-24 years old) who are living on the streets in the neighborhood where the church is, and they start by feeding them every day. They invite them to come in and enjoy a small traditional meal, then after the food is served they preach the word of God, in simple, straightforward terms, they explain to these men about the powerful redeemer who came to save us, and who cares about each of us the same. They do this for months on end, slowly and patiently preaching the word, while praying fervently for the young men who are hearing it.
Many of them have never heard the word of God, or if they have it is always in passing, certainly no none has ever sat with them and given them the direct attention, and love that these men from the church are showing them.
Then after a while, a few of the more dedicated men begin to emerge from the group, these are the ones that they then focus their attention on. Helping with things like work training, more in depth bible studies, and by discipling them and working through the numerous emotional and psychological issues that they have because of their history. (Can you imagine what it must be like to spend your whole childhood on the street?!?)
In the past only a few young men were ready to go to the next level, but this time there are ten! And the leaders are wondering what they are going to do to help this many of them. Each of the four guys in the church who are doing this are not paid anything at all, in fact all of them are paying for the costs to feed everyone from their own pockets. Giving a major portion of their own income to meet these needs. But they are already giving far beyond what is reasonable, and the expenses they are facing to help this many men is beyond their reach.
These ten young men have all spent at least 8 years living on the streets of Addis Ababa. 10 young men who are now hungry for more of God and who are ready to do what it takes to give their lives to Him! Ten young men who are chomping at the bit to start to be the catalyst that changes their culture for God!
We are not exactly sure what our role in this is going to look like, but we are burning inside to help give these men from the church the resources they need to help these 10 young men rise up and make a difference in this place.
We know that we are not capable in this instance of being the help that these street kids need, none of them speak much english if any at all, and the cultural divide is vast between us, but God has risen up those who can help and has put the fire in their hearts that they need to fight this difficult battle.
We already know that the men from the church who put this together are Godly, solid, wholehearted followers of Christ who are worth getting behind. In-fact one of the four who put this together is Yabi, the director of our project, a man who God has been moving through in ways that we are blessed to be witnessing.
In the coming weeks look for more posts about these 10 young homeless men and how we are going to be helping them. In the mean time drop me an email and let me know if you feel called to help out in any way. I feel that there has to be something that we can do here, some way that we can get behind what God is working on in these men’s lives.
Here are a few pictures that Jessie took during the lunch and training session a few days ago.
This is Ewnat, he feels that God has placed a call on his life to preach the gospel among the poor. He owns a small business here in Ethiopia which makes it so that he can preach five days a week. I really like that his name means “The Truth” It so perfectly speaks to the calling that God has placed on him. He speaks the truth! And God is blessing it!
These are a few of the young men from the street enjoying their lunch. For many of them this is the only meal they eat all day. As you can see they have been given new clothes by the leaders as well.
One of the young men during prayer time.
Lastly, this is a shot of the study time. Each of them was given a bible a few months ago and they all bring them with them everywhere they go. Many are learning to read and write for the first time ever.
Please pray with us that we can find a way to help these men go to the place that God is calling them. Good things are happening, and we feel it on our hearts to do what we can to help.