Monday, February 11, 2013

Foster Care At Its Best

Jeff Butler (Adoption Ministry 1:27 Director) and his wife Chris sponsor several families through AM 1:27.  Jeff recently returned from Ethiopia where he met with our in-country staff and got to visit some of the families who are sponsored.  Here is the amazing story of one family who the Butlers sponsor…

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(l to r) Wakjira, Pastor Samuel, Jeff Butler, sponsored mother, Pastor Garamu, Abinesh

Adoption Ministry 1:27 is an outreach to the poor in Ethiopia.  Our main goal is to preserve families on the brink of dissolution and by so doing, prevent orphans. The local church partner identifies the most needy families in their communities, most of whom are single moms. We also encourage stable families within the churches to adopt children with no parents or to become a foster family for a child.

Samuel, pastor of one of the Full Gospel churches we partner with in Dembidollo, took in a 6-year-old girl named Sena.  Sena has living parents and four siblings, but six years ago Sena’s father became very ill and could not work.  The family was struggling to survive. Out of sheer desperation, Sena’s mother asked Pastor Samuel if he and his wife would take little Sena and raise her; they simply could not feed all their children. Pastor Samuel said yes, and for the past six years has loved and cared for Sena like she was his own daughter.

Pastors are a dedicated group in Ethiopia. They answer the call to serve as shepherds knowing full well that finances will be a struggle. When Adoption Ministry 1:27 began in Dembidollo 1½ years ago, Pastor Samuel’s family was accepted into our program as a foster family that we wanted to support.  At that time we were not aware of Sena’s whole story and did not know she had a living biological family.
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Anyone who has been a foster parent knows that after six years, your heart is entwined with the child you have been given to raise, and Pastor Samuel and his wife were no different… they loved Sena and delighted in watching her grow from a little girl to a pre-adolescent. But Samuel knew that the highest good for Sena would be reunification with her mother, father, brothers and sisters, so he declined the monthly support and instead asked that Sena’s parents receive the support so Sena could once again live with her original family.

Jeff Butler, the AM 1:27 Director, recently was in Dembidollo and was touched by the selfless actions of both Sena’s biological parents and her foster parents. Jeff met Sena’s birth parents and asked her mother how difficult it was to choose one of her children to give away. She stated she simply had no options and had to do it for survival, but the decision filled her with deep sorrow. She was under no illusions that their situation would ever improve and sadly accepted the reality of their situation. But now she is filled to overflowing with joy because her daughter is home and, with monthly support, all members of their family can eat every day. Both parents are full of gratitude for Pastor Samuel and his wife and for their willingness to step in and provide a loving family to Sena for six years of her life.
Sena, too, is glad to see her family doing better, and gladly accompanies her mother on the 1½ mile walk into town each month to receive the food provided to the family by the AM 1:27 support. Together, they carry the almost 100 pounds of staples back to their home and do so with gladness of heart. They will have food to eat for a month!

Her mother has also joined a community credit union where each of the 100 members contributes 10 birr a week (about 53 cents), and then one member is chosen every week to receive the 1,000 birr collected. Each member receives 1,000 birr one time, and then the cycle begins again. This simple program helps alleviate some of the pain of deep poverty.

These two families, Sena’s birth family and foster family, capture the vision and heart of Adoption Ministry 1:27, which is to preserve families and prevent orphans.  The reunification and sustenance of one family with the help of AM 1:27 and the local church embodied by Pastor Samuel, is a wonderful picture of Christ's love and care expressed to this family!

If you would like to sponsor a family in Ethiopia, please visit our Adoption Ministry 1:27 website where you can select a family to support.  Your partnership with this ministry will directly meet the needs identified by our church partners.  You’ll receive a prayer card and updates about your family as we receive reports from the case managers.  Thank you!

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