I am sitting here sipping hot, Ethiopian coffee this morning. My house is quiet, for the moment, and I wanted to share a bit of my heart with you. A lot of my dreams are taking place in Africa now. I wake up, and as the dream fades into morning reality I am disappointed. I will be there soon, though, so for now I am trying to live in the here and now. I know that to so many people reading here, it may seem as if our decision to move to Ethiopia to serve Jesus was rash. I get how it could seem like that on the surface. There is so much back story that is written into this decision. When Jim took his vision trip to Ethiopia in October of 2011, the Spirit was calling us to surrender even then. Jim and I skyped a few times during that trip, and we both felt convicted that we were supposed to serve in Ethiopia. I remember telling my sister that we would move to Ethiopia, and telling my precious friend, Bethany. (Bethany's husband went with us on our mission trip to Ethiopia last year.) Jim saw the need differently than we had on our adoption trip, and he shared animatedly with me what he saw and learned. I think it was the first time since learning about the orphan crises and being led to adopt that we realized that adoption was just a minuscule part of the answer to the problem. We realized we could do more, and that it might look different than another adoption.
We had been burdened for the boys living alone on the streets of Addis since we met our son, Habi. But Jim's trip really solidified that burden and opened our eyes to other truths. We learned that many (although not all) of the boys still had living families, and that they had either been kicked out of their home or had run away. This was very much ingrained in the culture. Instead of facing problems, fears, differences, a person would run. As a mommy, this crushed me thinking of the families that were being senselessly destroyed. Reunification became near to our heart. Families needed to be reunited when they could be and discipled into how to live as a whole, healthy family. The remainder of the boys needed discipleship as well. One thing that Jim noticed was that women kept stepping up to help these children, and while children absolutely do need the nurturing that can only come from a woman, these boys desperately need to be discipled and mentored into how to be a man - something that really needs to come from a man. So many of these boys would grow up begging on the street, and while that life is excruciatingly hard, it becomes in some strange way comfortable in the lack of responsibility required of them and nearly impossible to escape. Their senses and reasoning are dulled by the huffing of glue, smoking of chat, and the alcohol that is pervasive and readily available to even the youngest boys that call the street home. These boys are exactly where the enemy wants them. So with no education, no male role models to see what it is to live as a man and work as a man, to have integrity and wisdom, steady employment, ambition and dreams, and love for a family, these boys grow up into adults with no purpose and aimlessly wander the streets begging. And as they themselves become fathers the cycle continues. And adoption isn't the answer to this problem. We knew in our hearts, even back in October of 2011, that we had to go to these boys, and live in their mess.
I remember feeling really excited about this call, and really scared. The scariest part about moving my family to Africa was telling my parents. I thought it would kill them for us to "take their grandchildren away". I knew the verses like Luke 14:26. I knew that Jesus sometimes called His disciples to move away from family, but it was still scary. So I wrote to a woman living in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. She and her family had newly started a ministry, and were pretty fresh to the field. She had a few children, so I thought she would understand my nervousness. I told her how Jim and I were feeling the Spirit call, and that I would be really surprised if we did not move our family to Addis. However, I also wrote that I was nervous about our familys' reaction and sad to take the grandchildren from them. I asked her how they had dealt with this, and asked for any wisdom she might have.
Now to be fair, this poor woman was probably inundated with messages, and she was busy on the field trying to get their new ministry off of the ground. But her response made me feel chastised and foolish. She said something to the affect that she did not really understand my question, because if God was calling us to Ethiopia then nothing else should matter. Her answer was so spiritual. I remember my face burning in embarrassment, and I thought to myself she is the kind of woman that God calls to the mission field, not nervous, wavering, cautious women like me. And for a long time afterward, I questioned the call, and I made excuses as to why the Spirit really didn't want us to move.
I understand now, that for me it had to be a process. I guess I am one of the slower ones. I needed time and space. I needed God to graciously erase my fears and inadequate feelings, and I understand now that this really is God's perfect time. He is sovereign, and He used even that woman's response to get me to where I am today. I am really thankful for such a patient and loving Daddy in heaven.
Jim and I have been spending much time preparing our hearts and family for the move, and working on our future ministry. We are starting a 501c3, which we are praying is established soon. It used to be that missionaries would raise the majority of their support through an agency via visiting churches around the country and sharing their mission. While some still do this, many are now using social media in order to reach a broader audience with their vision. Our family will probably travel to a few local churches, but we are praying to gather the majority of our support through social media. In some ways this is hard for me. I don't care for self-promotion and marketing, and this feels very much like both. However, I know that there is no way that Jim and I can accomplish this call in isolation. I know that is not how God intended the body to work. I know that He has already prepared people's hearts to become burdened for our ministry, and that their role may be financial or to be a prayer warrior - they will be the backbone of what we do. It is humbling to know that we are being placed in a position, once again, where we stand in need. Once again we are on the receiving end. Having not grown up that way, I struggle with this, but I have also been so blessed by people's earnest sacrifices for us on behalf of the kingdom.
So I guess that I write all of this to say that we need you. We are not yet capable of accepting financial gifts, but even now we need your prayers. If our mission is not bathed in prayer, it will fail. We need you to be invested in this journey with us, and to share about it. Jim and I have been working on our website, and we would love to have you browse it and give us feedback (it is right now being tweaked a little more by a web designer friend). Please feel free to ask questions. We will answer them the best we know how. Will you please also consider liking our page on facebook here, and then would you share it in your social media? The more people that know about our ministry, the better. Thank you dear friends. Thank you for continuing to read here, and for the grace that you extend to me.