Sunday, November 28, 2010

Through Jeff's Lens

Toward the end of my husband Jeff's trip to Ethiopia, he and Mark Wolbert (Missions Director for Adoption Minsitry) went to visit the leper colony and the neighborhood by the dump in Addis Ababa. Almost all of this huge city is marked with extreme poverty but this area is the most destitute. Mark has served there in the past and has become friends with a pastor who ministers to the people who live on the ragged edges of society.

These are difficult photos. This isn't the beautiful African savannah. It's not even the happy-ending result of a lot of relief work. This is reality for hundreds of thousands of people in one corner of the world. And here, some faithful Christians are living and ministering to the very 'least of these' in Jesus' name.

The church at the leper colony.

The sanctuary with the burlap floor.

Mark Wolbert with a man who has lost both legs to leprosy.

This woman has AIDS and lives day to day in a mud-walled hovel.
Jeff asked if he could take her picture.

I know how hard it is to walk around with a camera in places like this. But it's so important to bring these images home.

Another resident of this neighborhood cooking her family's meal.

One of many 'homes' with trash from the nearby dump that is burned for cooking fuel.

A women let them peek inside her home.
Many people live here.

This mother and her daughter know the pastor and also showed them inside their home.
Just look at that beaming face!

Jeff was captivated by this beautiful girl in her red frilly dress.

There were so many beautiful faces in that dark place...

It is so good for me, during this season of Thanksgiving and Christ's birth, to remember these precious people who God loves and to ask what He wants me to do in response.

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.                
                                                  Isaiah 61:1-3

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Equipped to do the work of the ministry

written by Joy Casey, Adoption Ministry Director
from Ethiopia

**UPDATE: All thirteen bikes have been covered!  Thank you so much!

Our YWAM team, along with Jason & Jackie Sanchez, Kara Portilla & her mother Donna, Mike Monahan along with Kaitlyn & Kimberly from Arizona, went for a final visit to the village where we have started a kindergarten for the twenty children that are sponsored through YWAM. Prior to the children breaking for lunch, we sat under the Worship Tree and listened to the evangelists share about all that God is doing in the immediate village and surrounding area.

The work they are doing is exciting, amazing, dangerous and extremely challenging ….. and they blew our socks off with the testimonies of lives being changed, churches being birthed in ways I would have thought impossible, and we all felt like we stood on holy ground hearing stories like those of the first century church.

Once the children ate their lunches it was time to play, and we all enjoyed pushing them on the merry-go-round, catching them at the bottom of the slide or just playing chase and tag with lots of hugs and tickles.

I had time to hear a bit more from the elders of the church and I asked them what their needs were.

For the past seven years, eight evangelists have been serving in this village that covers quite a large area, and because the Holy Spirit is moving in such a mighty way, four more evangelists have joined them.

Each house or cluster of houses in this village is fairly far apart because each dwelling has farmland included. They asked me if there was a way for them to have bicycles so they could reach the unreached further away and be more efficient in discipling the new converts. A bicycle costs $100.

These evangelists have lived on what little the church could give them, ate what little their garden produced and, from what I could discern, are raising their families on the edge of destitution and poverty.

I did not hear one complaint, only praises to their God because this past year has seen 150 families, formerly adhering to a repressive religion, convert to Christianity. It is all the reward they needed.

I know better. Every father and mother wants their children to have adequate food. It would be nice to have a sturdy door on their hut so snakes do not have access at night. It would be nice to have a lean-to next to the hut to cook in so their families are not breathing in smoke, and I know having the liberty to seek medical help if their child gets poked in the eye with a stick is reassuring. Simple things… yet out of reach to these people.

I am buying one bike and sponsoring one evangelist at $50 a month. I want to partner with 12 people who will enjoy the satisfaction of giving these men money to provide for their families and giving them a means of transportation to do the important work God clearly has called them to do. We actually need 13 bicycles, because the teacher for the school walks two hours each way to teach and he shyly told me that a bicycle would be a huge benefit to him, too.

If you want to help, please call or email us at:

This Christmas will be a bittersweet one for me. As many of you know, my son died suddenly in May. He wanted so badly to go to Ethiopia with me and in his honor, I will buy a Christmas gift to bless the less fortunate in Ethiopia. I cannot think of one item my family actually needs and I am confident that my daughters and husband will join me in giving Christmas gifts that not only will bring satisfaction to our hearts, but will give immeasurable joy to those God has put in my path in the in exotic, beautiful and desperate land of Ethiopia.

Monday, November 15, 2010

A World-Changing Christmas

Have you heard about the Advent Conspiracy?  You'll want to be sure to check out their website.  Their Christmas mandate is:

Worship Fully
Spend Less 
Give More 
Love All

Because I can't say it any better than this, I'll give you the Advent Conspiracy challenge, written in their own words.

The story of Christ's birth is a story of promise, hope, and a revolutionary love.  

So, what happened? 

What was once a time to celebrate the birth of a Savior has somehow turned into a season of stress, traffic jams, and shopping lists.   

And when it's all over, many of us are left with presents to return, looming debt that will take months to pay off, and this empty feeling of missed purpose.  

Is this what we really want out of Christmas? 

What if Christmas became a world-changing event again?

Last year right before Christmas, Adoption Ministry of YWAM published a Gift Catalog and I have to say, the response was incredible!  Many people chose to give a gift to a child or a family in Ethiopia in the name of one of their family members or loved ones.  We had the privilege of delivering goats, donkeys, soccer balls, water filters and many other life-changing items.  I only wish these generous people could have been on hand to see the happy recipients as their gifts were presented.  Here in the U.S. we can hardly imagine how much these gifts - that seem so simple to us - mean to a very poor family in Ethiopia.

I hope many of you will use our Gift Catalog for some of your Christmas shopping this year!  It's not too early to think about what you'd like your Christmas giving to look like and to let us know how you'd like to help.  There are some new items in this year's catalog - be sure to check it out by clicking on the goat button below!

In addition, I want to mention a few things that have come up since we published the catalog.  Each of these would be a huge blessing to many in Ethiopia and to this ministry:

  • There is a great need for 13 bicycles to be used in the village of Gutumuma. One bicycle costs $100.  (More on this in my next post - you won't want to miss Joy's story from Gutumuma!!)
  • We have a great need for a vehicle for the Widows & Orphans Home in Adama.  Tezera, our orphanage director, has already taken the class and the exam to get a driver's license because, in faith, she is asking God for transportation and she says "I will be ready when He supplies!"  In our new facility, this is CRITICAL!  We have $8000 saved so far and it will take about $20,000 - $30,000.  (Hard to believe it costs that much but vehicles are shipped into the country - thus the high cost.)

Other needs for the new orphanage in Adama (items to be purchased in Ethiopia - prices are being determined):

  • chairs for the widows to sit in when we open our new facility 
  • plants for the open air courtyard as well as the outside of the building  
  • large dining room table and chairs for the dining room

For the orphanage in Dembidollo we need:

  • two water tanks
One 10,000 liter tank (about 2600 gallons) costs $1312 and one 2,000 liter tank (about 528 gallons) costs $375.

And at each of our four orphanages, we would like to purchase

  • water filters which cost $250 each.  We do not give the children tap water because it is a source of parasites and other diseases. Filters would save us money in the long run as we would not have to buy bottled water all the time.  
    **Answered prayer - funds for four water filters were donated!

Each of the above needs can be met (in part or in whole) by way of a tax-exempt monetary donation to Adoption Ministry of YWAM Ethiopia. If you'd like to help us in any way, please contact us at:

Thank you so much! I hope your Christmas shopping is a JOYFUL experience!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Finishing Up

from Joy Casey in Ethiopia

This is the day the Lord has made
Let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Psalm 118:24

Today is my last Sunday in Ethiopia. I have been here for one month and I have two more days to finish up loose ends of this and that. Yesterday we took Jason and Jackie Sanchez back to Adama to spend the day with their sweet baby daughter in our Widows and Orphans Home. I met with a couple of birthmothers, Mark and Jeff took yet more pictures of the cutest babies in the world, and I also met with the architect of the new structure we are building for our sweet elderly ladies and children.

photo credit: Jon and Haley Ballast

Oh! We also got a new widow, and I had the privilege of spending some time with her and hearing her story. Tezera, our orphanage director, prepared an amazing lunch for all of us, and I have never seen such food nor tasted anything better! We all ate too much because our hosts kept piling our plates with food that we had to refuse because it was so good.

The Sanchez’s, Mark, Jeff, Abebe, Tezera and I passed up coffee ceremony due to time constraints because I wanted Jason and Jackie to see the maternity home and the construction site. Jason and Jackie kissed little Miss “A” good-bye (after taking hundreds of pictures and video!) and we all enjoyed our time with the pregnant women at Living Hope Maternity Home. I ended up buying some of their beautiful handmade bracelets and headbands. The new Widows and Orphans Home is coming right along, and the architect thinks we should occupy the building by the end of January.

But back to Sunday. Pastor Jason was invited by Pastor Abdissa of CHI to preach at his church this morning and Mark and I tagged along. What a fun morning! Jason did an incredible job sharing God’s word, with Pastor Abdissa interpreting. The worship was sensational and it was a sweet time with our brothers and sisters in Ethiopia. Afterwards we went to lunch with Pastor Abdissa.

I am leaving Ethiopia in a few days refreshed in my spirit. Even though the days have been long and we have faced many trials, God has been right by my side and today has been an especially sweet time with Him. I miss my husband and family and it will be good to see them soon. I know Debi Musick, Liane Wolbert and our great office staff have held down the domestic adoption side of things and Superwoman Becky Burns has dealt with the Ethiopia adoption program with grace, intelligence, and integrity. God has blessed me beyond words with an amazing staff for which I am grateful, grateful, GRATEFUL!

The highlight of my time here in Ethiopia has been the opportunity to rub shoulders with the families God has led to adopt the children from our orphanages. Even though the government here does not always work efficiently which slows down the adoption process, and even though it is hard for the families to wrap their minds around the “why” of it all, every family has responded with faith that God has all things under control. It is the greatest privilege of all to work alongside such exceptional, godly families.

A Living Hope

from Joy Casey in Ethiopia

I spent most of last week in Adama (sometimes called Nazaret) at our Widows and Orphans Home and at the newly opened Living Hope Women’s Organization. Never heard of it? Let me tell you a little about the marvelous things God is doing and give you a hint of possible expansion to come.

Living Hope was birthed when Mike and Dinah Monahan from Arizona traveled with me to Ethiopia this past March. Dinah and Mike own Heritage House Publishing, a pro-life organization that sells goods promoting life affirming choices. Dinah also established a maternity home and three pregnancy counseling centers in Arizona. I shared with Dinah tragic stories of women who were aborting their children either through self-abortion or in the hospital, and the idea evolved that a maternity home and pregnancy counseling center here in Ethiopia was critical. I knew three awesome Ethiopian women with whom I had been praying for over a year who had this same heart for women and children and introduced them to Dinah and Mike. From that meeting, the seed of Living Hope germinated. Many details needed to come together, but through the hard work of Meseret, the director of Ethiopia’s Living Hope, the doors were opened in August 2010 and in no time at all, six abortion-vulnerable women were living there and the first baby was born in September.

This home is not just a shelter for pregnant women to safely give birth to their babies. The women are taught sewing, jewelry-making and knitting for which they get paid per piece. The goods will be sold through Heritage House and to YWAM’s adopting families when they travel to Adama. The goal is to disciple these women for at least a year, teach them a skill that can sustain their lives, and provide mentoring on how to start and maintain a business. We want to see these women prospering and living on their own, able to care for their child.

It is exciting work! Dinah and I had the honor of dedicating the home and Dinah and her team have spent this past week training the staff and teaching the young women. What fun they have had! One evening was spa night, and the gals got facials, manicures and pedicures complete with foot and arm massages. The cook prepared a fantastic meal and everyone had much fun together, celebrating in girl-fashion all God has done and is going to do in the lives of these women and their children. Eventually, another compound will be rented for these women to move to after they give birth that will continue them on the path of self-sufficiency and spiritual maturity. That will free up space in the maternity home for others that need this safety net.

YWAM Mercy Development in Addis Ababa has been helping five very young, vulnerable women who have given birth who are completely destitute. They have asked to place their children for adoption, but the rules of Addis Ababa prevent them from doing so. Dinah and I talked about the need in the teeming city of Addis for a similar home, and the YWAM director will partner with Adoption Ministry and the Monahans to provide shelter, training and discipleship to those five and others God sends to our door.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

One of the sweetest moments of my life...

written by Dinah Monahan, from Ethiopia
Mike and Dinah have started the Living Hope Maternity Home in Adama

Greetings from Adama!

We arrived with our 420 lbs of luggage Sunday night after an easy flight.  Ambi*n is wonderful. I slept most of the way and, amazingly, was able to sleep again that evening we arrived in Addis. The next day, rested and ready to go, we joined Kara and her mom Donna from Into the Streets of Ethiopia (who we had networked with and who had so graciously brought things for our project) and we went to see Abdissa at the YWAM Children's Home.  Seeing Sammy, Ruth and Abdissa was like a homecoming.

While there, Abdissa arranged for us to meet Helen. Helen was the young woman who was pregnant and had a child and had been unable to even do the most menial labor because of a broken arm that had healed badly. The second pregnancy ended her only source of income, which was prostitution. Utterly desperate and unwilling to watch her child starve, she tried to kill herself three times... poison and hanging. God brought her path across Abdissa's and he shared what must have sounded like a hollow promise (or maybe a come-on from a stranger)...that there was a God who cared.  But he was also kind and gave her food out of the little he had and she came back. Each time, he spoke of God's love.

When we came last time, he shared her plight and it was what God used to open Mike's and my heart to opening the maternity home. This trip, I was able, through an interpreter, to tell her that story. I told her that her life has purpose and that God had used it in a mighty way. I told her how it had so moved us that we knew that He wanted us to make sure other mothers in her situation did not have to face such desperation and so we opened the first ever maternity home in Ethiopia. It was too late to help her but we also, through friends at home (Heritage House and clinic staff), made sure that she was taken care of. She was so overwhelmed, she buried her face in her precious baby's shoulder and wept. Helen now must face another challenge... she may have cancer. Please keep her in prayer.

She brought with her a beautiful girl with huge eyes who looked like she was twelve. In reality, she was 15. She was dressed in rags - a  t-shirt that was ripped in many places and hung on her and a skirt that had holes and was dirty. On her lap was a baby who I thought was maybe 6 months but was actually a year. He was a flirt... peeping out from under his blanket at Kimberly and I and beaming, then diving back under for the safety of mommy. Samrait lived on the streets with her baby. She is illerate. She was hungry and her baby was sick. Helen led her to Abdissa. And he, who has the kindest heart in this land that could overwhelm the hardest one, put her in the guest house they keep for out-of-town people and has a female staffer ministering to her.

As Kimberly and I sat there watching her chew her thumb and look at her lap in the face of we two white women, we had the same idea. "Let's take them shopping!" I said. I asked Abdissa to ask them if they would like to go shopping for new clothes, not wanting to cross some boundary or make a cultural gaff.  He looked at me like I was stupid and said, "Is that a joke? Is that a joke? They have never been shopping. Of course they want to go shopping!"  They thought it was for their babies but we quickly established it was for them. I think Kimblerly will agree, that was the best shopping trip we have ever been on in our lives.

Samrait especially was overwhelmed. I do believe she had never had this experience. She bought a pretty flowy skirt. Abdissa suggested a practical top but she eyed one with bling, white sleeves and a hood - very cool. She ran her hand over it while it was on the mannequin and I told her to try it on with the skirt. The truth is, it didn't match one bit, but in it she was a princess! Helen was very practical, choosing a jogging suit. Next came shoes. Samrait chose what I feared would be a terrible choice - shiny black shoes with a darling bow on them. But when I looked at them I was so pleased to see that they were Pum*s and had as good a sole as a tennis shoe - these would give her long wear and comfort. Helen again was reasonable, choosing tennis shoes. I think Samrait's hug and her "thank you," which was so full of awe and gratitude for something that she never in her entire life dreamed possible, was one of the sweetest moments of my life. You will be hearing more of these young ladies and the three young mothers God has brought into Abdissa's care as we figure out a way to help him feed them and their babies. So little goes so far here.


Yesterday we went to Adama and our Living Hope Maternity Home. The girls and staff were out waiting for us and what a reception! It was so amazing to come back six months after we had talked to these precious women and find a well-run home and six girls. The director, Meseret, is a truly amazing servant of God. She is also an ardent defender of Ethiopian unborn babies. Two of the girls in her home are there because she stood outside the hospital, which does abortions (even though it is not technically legal), and talked to the young women. When they changed their minds, they knew that the price for doing so was to be kicked out of their families with nowhere to go. She brought them to the home. You cannot imagine how excited she was to see all of the educational materials we brought with us, including fetal models, graphic brochures with fetal development and of course "Precious Feet."

Today we see our precious grandbaby in the orphanage. Can't wait to hold him...if he lets me, that is. 
(Mike and Dinah's daughter and son-in-law are adopting a baby boy from our orphanage - they even got to bring him from Gimbie to Adama before they knew he would be their grandson!)

So much to do on all our parts but this has already be a wonderful journey and God has blessed it in amazing ways. Keep praying for health and stamina. Luv ya all!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Ministering to "the least of these"

I know that many of you faithful blog readers look forward to reading an update here from the team in Ethiopia.  As the one who gets to post these bits of news on the blog, I love them as much as you do!  (Maybe more, since my husband is clear across the planet with Mark and Joy for over three weeks.)  You could say that I'm checking my inbox "fairly frequently."  Liane and I talk on the phone often and share every bit of news we get!

What we have to remember:
  1. This team is busy - they are going almost non-stop and I know from experience that after a few days with that schedule in Ethiopia, you have very little time or energy for writing.
  2. The internet seems to fight you every step of the way.  If you're fortunate enough to get a connection, it can drop out randomly and sending pictures is a miracle!
  3. This team is busy!
But this morning, I got a short email from Jeff.  I had asked him if he could find just a couple of minutes to jot a few personal reflections.  Here is what he sent, along with some photos I had to go along with his impressions.

It's hard to get used to the extreme poverty that exists everywhere - with few exceptions. The needs are monumental.  That's what makes the work of Abdissa, Sammy and Ruth (YWAM Mercy Development) so amazing. They are providing a future, food to eat and Jesus Christ for some of the "least of these." These are giving people.

Abdissa - YWAM Mercy Development

Ruth, Rebecca and Sammy
YWAM Mercy Development

And then I get to meet people here who are making a difference for pregnant women - in a beautiful facility - and teaching them skills to make an income.

Dinah and Mike Monahan
Living Hope Maternity Home

There are so many people who are making a difference in orphan's health and hope by adopting them or by providing formula for them.

Tezera Kebede - Orphanage Director

It is hard to play with the kids in the orphanage and not to want the best for them.

Not everyone is trying to change the whole world but watching people doing what they're called to do, being stretched greatly but staying the course anyway - it is rewarding to see. 

Jeff Burns

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sing to the East and the West

written from Ethiopia by Joy Casey, Adoption Ministry Director

Shout to the North and the South
Sing to the East and the West
Jesus is Savior to all 

Lord of heaven and earth!

Jeff, Mark and I sang this, along with other songs that declare God's praise, many times during the six days we spent in the three remote towns in Western Ethiopia where we have established Widows and Orphans Homes. Along with the rewards of seeing the children and the uniqueness of each place, came intense spiritual warfare that kept us on our knees. The closer we got to the Sudan border, the more intense the battle.

Tezera, our orphanage director, and Abebe, our country representative, spent long days meeting with various governmental heads and working through the massive bureaucracy that is the hallmark of working effectively in Ethiopia. Without prayer (and lots of it), I am convinced that very little headway would be made. Because of God’s grace, we found favor with the officials of Nekemte, Gimbie and Dembidollo and our orphanages are flourishing. It is hard for us Americans to understand how relational everything is in Ethiopia, and without solid relationships on many levels, nothing gets accomplished.

The trip is a rough one, road-wise, but also spectacularly beautiful. I love getting into the “real Africa” away from cities and observing day-to-day village life, harvest time with old-fashioned haystacks dotting the landscape, and the thrill of seeing families of baboons and black and white monkeys swinging in trees. The avocados are as big as grapefruit, and we bought bananas from a youth selling them for a penny a piece right from a freshly picked bunch. Unbelievable flavor!

The joy of my work is being with the children, and I like nothing better in this world than to enter one of our centers and see the progress of the children I left behind 3-4 months ago and then peering into cribs with tiny new people that I can hardly wait to get to know. We have several toddler boys now, and they are scared of us White newcomers at first. After sitting on the ground with them for awhile and letting them get used to me …. placing a small piece of candy first on their knee, then in their hand, and eventually into their mouth …. they warm up and allow themselves to be tickled and played with. What an honor to give hugs, kisses and tickles to these precious children god has assigned to us! Jeff got out his harmonica and played songs and the little boys had a grand time interacting with him.

Kara Portilla (from Into The Streets of Ethiopia) and her mother have joined us for a few days and tomorrow we will spend the day with the street ministry that YWAM has in Addis Ababa. We have three families who have come for their court dates this week and I love seeing them and introducing them to their children. Two of the families will be making the journey to Nekemte and Gimbie to see the orphanages where their children are from. It is a busy upcoming week!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...