Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Truth That Troubles Me

by Jeff Butler
Program Director, Adoption Ministry 1:27
A repost from April 2012



The Truth:
We as Christians worship an all-powerful, perfect, loving and gracious God.
We as Christians today are part of the richest church in the history of Christianity.
We Christians live in a world that is experiencing the greatest global human suffering.


How can these truths co-exist? How can there be an all-powerful loving God, limitless in strength, knowledge, resources and compassion, yet 1,000 children die every hour from starvation and preventable diseases?

There’s no lack of power or compassion within God’s heart!  The truth that troubles me is what I discovered within my own heart - this is where I found the biggest problem!  You, I, and the rest of the church are Christ’s hands, feet, arms, eyes and ears on planet earth. We have been given His Holy Spirit therefore we have everything we need to make a global impact.

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I was serving as a pastor of a community church a few years ago. I was invited to go to Ethiopia along with a YWAM missions team to visit and serve at their Widows and Orphans Homes.  I had no idea why I was going, but I really believed God wanted me to go. The suffering and loss of the poor - people just like me - shattered my heart. Global poverty and suffering became more real and personal. I came back burdened but unclear about what I was to do about it.

Since then I have been back to Ethiopia five times. My wife and I have adopted three children from YWAM’s orphanages. I helped lead a church mission team to serve with churches in Ethiopia.  I was reading books such as The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns, and Radical by David Platt. God was schooling me. Each trip I took to Ethiopia, I would see more of the bigger picture - what causes poverty, widows and orphans. 

Orphan Care: I saw the work being done to care for widows and orphans. Most of us realize this is our biblical mandate found in James 1:27:  “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this:  to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”  YWAM has four Widows and Orphans Homes in Ethiopia where widows and children are lovingly cared for, both in the homes and in the surrounding communities.

Orphan Reduction: Next I saw the need to reduce the number of orphans in the world through the God-originated idea of adoption. My wife and I had already adopted four children domestically before my trip to Ethiopia so I totally got this one! Orphan reduction though adoption. The minute an orphan is adopted, they become a son or a daughter!

I felt there was something more that needed to be done. I believe God gave me a picture of the crisis to help me understand at a deeper level. I pictured a poor struggling family, like many single-parent families I had encountered in Ethiopia, standing on the bank of a raging river when a crisis occurs. The mother, trying to hold the family together, loses her grip and the children slide off into the raging river. The mother desperately tries to save them but can’t. Downstream, on the bank, are some people that reach out and try to grab hold of some of these children before they go over the impending waterfall and are lost.

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This is a true story that is occurring everyday in our world!  When these families, mostly held together by a single parent, fall apart though death, disease or starvation, the children fall into the most perilous of circumstances. They live on the streets where they fend for themselves without protection from abuse and exploitation. Many simply don’t make it.

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Some are rescued by those downstream. They may end up being cared for in orphanages and a few are adopted. Should we simply wait and if it’s not too risky, or too costly, or too uncomfortable, to maybe reach out to a few to try and pull them out?  But what about those who don’t get a family? What about those who don’t get a meal or a shelter?

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God was already moving to answer the question that lay heavy upon my heart and it seemed that He had laid this burden on a few others of the YWAM Leadership Team. God was also moving to connect the YWAM team with local Ethiopian churches to birth a new work…

Orphan Prevention: We as the Body of Christ need to come alongside vulnerable families and help to sustain them so that their children don’t become orphans. This can’t be a government solution, or a parachurch solution; it needs to be a local church solution: Orphan Prevention through the local church!

In September of 2011 Adoption Ministry of YWAM Ethiopia launched a new work known as Adoption Ministry 1:27 to partner with the Ethiopian Church to care for widows and orphans. We have developed partnerships with several indigenous Ethiopian churches to care for vulnerable families in some of the poorest regions of Ethiopia where we launched the “Adopt a Family” Program.  Local church pastors identify the poorest, most vulnerable families in their communities – either single-parent families on the verge of collapse or guardian families who are willing to take in orphaned children but need financial help to do so.  We seek those who will “adopt” one of these families for $40 per month. 100% of the money goes in-country to Ethiopia to run the program and care for each family with food, medical care and help with income-generating activities.

I have visited many of these families who have been adopted through Adoption Ministry 1:27 and have seen radical transformation, revitalized health and renewed hope.

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The truth that troubled me is being used to transform me.  You and I, the Church, are God’s answer!  Let’s start being the Church.  We need to get off our comfortable spot on the bank of the river, swim upstream and wrap our arms around a vulnerable family to sustain and support them.



(28) 1-27 web pics
Jeff Butler serves as Program Director for Adoption Ministry 1:27 and is also on the board of Adoption Ministry.  He and his wife, Chris, have adopted three children from Ethiopia.


If you would like to ‘Adopt a Family’ or just want more information about Adoption Ministry 1:27, please visit our website Adoption Ministry 1:27 or contact us at: jamie@adoptionministry.net







Thursday, April 24, 2014

What Would Jesus Do?

by Mark Wolbert

The overused words What Would Jesus Do? will never mean the same to me again.  I was visiting a desperately poor widow, a mother of the church.  She warmly invited me into her room and I noticed that some of her six children looked distinctly different from each other, like they were from various tribes.  I asked the pastor, who was my interpreter, about this and he said that only four of the children were birthed to her and that she had taken in two others to raise.  I looked around her tiny room wondering where they could possibly sleep.  I remembered her the day before gratefully taking the maize the mission team provided, knowing that most of the sustenance for her family came from scavenging in the garbage dump.  Why did this woman take on two stranger’s children when she could barely feed and clothe herself and her own children? 

“Why?” I asked her.  “The Bible says to,” was her simple answer.  “It is what Jesus asks us to do.”  Yes, it is.  But would I trust in His provision if I was in such desperate want?  I humbly had to concede that no, probably not.

God spoke to me profoundly that day, and I hope I am never the same.  I will help the church help this woman and her family.  I will introduce more people through mission teams to Jesus in the disguise of the leper, the homeless, the abandoned.  I will simply say “yes” when I am asked to care for the poor, trusting that God will provide.

Cora<br /><br />Photo by Britney McIntosh
“Each of them is Jesus in disguise.” – Mother Teresa



Mark is currently in Ethiopia with our first mission team of the year from Federal Way, WA.  Like us on Facebook and following along on their adventures!


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Singing Halleluia!

by Joy Casey
reposted from March 2013


What a day! Abebe and I picked up four visitors from Texas this morning. They were pretty tired from their long trip, but I know from experience that it is best to keep pushing forward and not give in to sleep until a little closer to bedtime. After a nice breakfast and some strong Ethiopian coffee, we headed to one of our partner churches, Nefas Silk Meseret Kristos.

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On Saturday mornings a group of men and women meet for prayer, and we tiptoed into the room and dropped to our knees alongside them. For some reason, I always feel honored to join in prayer with my sisters and brothers in Ethiopia and today was no different. After a time in prayer, the group from Texas brought their greetings and several in the prayer band expressed their appreciation to us for praying with them. We then invited them to join us on Mt. Entoto that overlooks Addis Ababa for prayer, and they eagerly accepted our invitation.

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The air was fresh and the sun hot as we hiked to a rock outcrop overlooking the sprawling metropolis of Addis Ababa. Our prayers were for the church in Ethiopia … strength and energy and resources to push back the encroaching push of Islam that is systematically trying to take over Ethiopia. We also prayed for the government and for peace and prosperity. One person prayed that not only would Ethiopia become a strong Christian nation, but that Ethiopia would bring the gospel to their neighbors in Somalia, North Sudan and Djibouti. The prayers, both in Amharic and English, were powerful. Afterwards, our Ethiopian hosts began to sing and rejoice. Even though we Americans didn’t know the words they were singing, we were caught up in the exuberance and spirit of the worship!




Monday, April 21, 2014

His Grace is Sufficient

A repost from 2012
by Joy Casey

 
Yigesu
 
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Yigesu is a memorable man. I met Yigesu and his son in a remote town in Ethiopia, and I have not been able to quit thinking of him. I meet a lot of people and see and hear many heart-wrenching stories, but there was something extraordinary about this man. Maybe it was his kind face or the way he lit up when he talked about Jesus. Maybe it was his tattered clothes and hand-made crutch that belied the twinkle in his eye.
 
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He was one of many waiting to be interviewed for YWAM’s Adoption Ministry 1:27 program, but he stood out to me. He had nothing of material value, not even a house to live in. His clothes were dirty and full of holes and it was pretty obvious that food was not plentiful. His son was with him and was sick. I found out his wife died nine years ago after giving birth to a brain damaged girl leaving him to cope with a child who will never walk or talk. Life has not been especially kind to Yigesu, yet his love for the Savior supersedes his humble station in life.
 
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Rarely does a casual meeting remain with me months after the encounter. What was it about Yigesu that has caused me to examine my own relationship with God? Do I claim faith because the lifestyle is comfortable for me? Do I presume upon God to give me what I want so I can be comfortable? Do I love Christianity or do I love Jesus apart from all the trappings? Could I love God fully if everything of consequence were taken away, or would I mumble and accuse and become a martyr full of self-pity and self-righteousness? Meeting Yigesu has been a good thing. His response to circumstances brought me face to face with the words of Jesus, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9
 
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I suppose it is only natural to want to help this man and his two children. The church can preach all it wants, but if it doesn’t reach out and touch and heal and give hope to the less fortunate, it does not accurately represent our Lord.
 
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If you’d like to sponsor a family in Ethiopia who are at risk like Yigesu's, please visit our Adoption Ministry 1:27 webpage here.

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Friday, April 18, 2014

Ready Set GO!


Our 2014 Missions season begins this month with a team from Brooklake Church in Federal Way, Washington.
 
Brooklake is one of a growing number of ‘radical’ churches who are partnering with Adoption Ministry to meet needs in Ethiopia (see the video they did about this partnership here). Because they are committed to a long-term relationship with those they serve, the church is sending a team of 12 people who want to meet those they are sponsoring through Adoption Ministry 1:27 in Shashemene. Two churches in this city have identified over 50 at-risk families that Brooklake has found sponsors for and the team will be serving many of those families, spending time getting to know them and also working on a small construction project at the Mana Gammachuu orphanage.
 
Brooklake team
 
Fundraising is a huge part of any mission trip and together this group organized a “Mission Dinner and Auction” with entertainment and lots of items up for both live and silent auction. They raised almost $13,000 to help with airfare and in-country projects. Some creative team members sold handmade jewelry and art pieces in their church foyer on Sunday mornings. One guy bought 100 lbs of green Ethiopian coffee beans that he roasted himself and sold to church-goers as a unique “Brooklake Ethiopian roast”! One couple, who we featured on our blog in January, has been raising money specifically for a house for the woman they have adopted through AM 1:27. The good news is that all $5000 was raised, which was the goal to reach by the time the group leaves next week!
 
This team has met weekly for the three months leading up to their departure and their preparation serves as a great example for any group going on a mission trip. Our missions director, Mark Wolbert, used the video series “Missions Dilemma” as a teaching tool (view preview trailer below) and a catalyst for some great discussion. It has impacted each team member, helping them approach the trip with less of a Western mindset and with a desire to be culturally sensitive in serving. Their goal is relational: to plant seeds of friendship with the families they sponsor and to bring Christ’s encouragement and practical help.
 
You can follow this team on their Facebook page and we’ll also be linking to blog updates!



Missions Dilemma–7 part series for Missions preparation


Monday, April 14, 2014

Passing the Torch–Adoption Training


Adoption Ministry is joining others in passing the adoption torch to Ethiopian Christian families. Traditionally, adopting outside of your family was taboo in Ethiopia. Even now adoption is equated with a lesser position within the family unit and Ethiopians cannot fathom cherishing an adopted child as they would a biological child. But the tide is changing! We have been speaking in churches and to individuals about God’s heart for adoption and challenging couples to take care of the orphans in their community.
 
Shashemene town is where YWAM has a sweet little orphanage with mommy nannies tenderly caring for throw-away babies brought to us by the police. One little miss has already been adopted by a family in Addis Ababa... 

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but there are eight little sweethearts who need their very own families.

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(How I wish I could show you these adorable little faces... but only after they are adopted!)

At the end of February, our orphanage director planned a two day seminar for Ethiopian couples interested in adoption. A knowledgeable and respected judge spoke about the legalities and procedures of adoption, and a representative for the Ministry of Women’s Affairs painted a picture of the unadorned realities and bleak future awaiting children without parents. Abandoned children are either raised in an institution or on the streets making them highly vulnerable to slave trade. She also gave compassionate insight as to why mothers abandon their children. A highlight was when a young man named Belay shared. He grew up as an orphan in Ethiopia and gave the attendees a snapshot of what life is like from an orphan’s perspective.
 
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The second day featured an adoptive mom from Addis who has adopted two children. She underscored the need to claim adopted children as your own and how she and her husband integrated their two children into their extended family and normalized adoption. Abonesh, the wife of our country representative, taught on the Biblical perspective of adoption.
 
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By the end of the conference, six families walked to the Mana Gammachuu orphanage and picked out the child they wanted to adopt! Those six couples are now in the homestudy process and we are hoping that within a month or two, six tiny people will be lovingly ensconced in a home where they will be loved forever.


Sunday, April 13, 2014

Adoptive Families and the Church {a repost}


Stephen Curtis Chapman shares his heart about
church orphan and adoption ministry.

Excerpt from an article by Michael Monroe.  For the complete story, please visit the Empowered to Connect web page The Safest Place on Earth.


It is fundamental that our communities of faith fully realize and embrace the lifelong journey that (adoptive)  families are walking – and commit to being a church that will walk beside them each and every step of the way.

Churches that desire to become a “safe place” must:

1. Become Missional – ...Churches that are missional as it relates to adoption and foster care reach out to adoptive and foster families. These missional churches are willing and able to translate the message of hope and love being lived out in the lives of these families to the broader church culture that, in many ways, does not have an accurate, realistic and healthy understanding of adoption and foster care. In order to become missional in this respect churches must go out of their way to tell the stories of adoptive and foster families, and to tell them honestly. They must also more fully consider the needs and unique characteristics of these families as they develop and design their programs and activities...

2. Become Open and Willing to Learn — Effectively ministering to adoptive and foster families (as well as those who are exploring) will require that our churches become far more educated on the subjects of adoption and foster care. I believe that staff and lay leaders alike must become familiar with the facts and realities that confront these families and their children. This will require that they begin to listen, read and research as they seek to truly understand realities about which too many in our churches are completely unaware. It will require much effort to understand the perspectives and struggles of adoptive and foster families, and not so much to offer “solutions” but to learn how to better love and serve them...

3. Become Honest and Prepared to Get Messy — Adoption and foster care families are full of joy, blessings and hope. I believe these realities are what most clearly and fully characterize these life changing journeys. But they also have their share of loss, grief, disappointment, fear, doubt and so many different realities that result from our fallen world and our sinful human condition...

4. Become Willing to Change – ... Will we examine our children’s ministry? Our jr. high and youth ministry? Will we seek to understand and respond to the real and unique needs of adoptive and foster parents? Will we commit time and resources to develop an effective relief and respite care ministry for foster parents?

5. Become Committed for the Long Haul — Here’s a secret about adoptive families – you ready? The adoption journey does not end when the adoption is finalized. The adoption journey (on this earth) ends when you DIE! Adoptive and foster families need churches that are committed for the long haul . . . committed during the highs and the lows . . . committed during the times of joy and the seasons of pain . . . committed to celebrating the blessing and grappling with the loss and grief... This commitment must remain strong for as long as it takes and no matter what comes.

If our churches are willing to walk this journey of faith alongside the families that God has formed and transformed through the miracle of adoption and foster care, I believe that not only will they become the “safest place on earth” for these daring families… I believe they will experience the privilege of being part of something truly remarkable. They will serve as an integral part of the visible Gospel being lived out in the lives of countless adoptive and foster families, and all for the glory of God.

Be sure to visit the Empowered to Connect website for more great insight and help with adoption issues!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Why We Need Young People in Missions


A post from YWAM’s Rise Campaign…

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by Tanya Lyons
I had my first experience in missions when I was 17. I was just out of High School and ready to venture into the great unknown. Adventure awaited, and I had nothing to lose!

Interestingly enough, I wasn’t following God when I signed up for missions. At the time I didn’t know it was possible to walk with God. I was shocked and delighted when I discovered missions wasn’t about me trying to make the world better on my own, but was about joining God in his mission of restoration and change.

Missions turned out even better than I imagined. It resulted in some unexpected changes in my life too. I came to missions lonely and broken. I was angry with so many people, bitter at the world, and ashamed of my brokenness. But, while giving away the little bits of kindness and compassion God helped me muster up, I was healed myself…

Continue reading: @risecampaign.com

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Start making plans now to join us on a mission trip to Ethiopia!  Visit our Missions webpages and read about how to begin planning a trip, a timetable for raising funds and what it might be like to join God at work serving others in Ethiopia.



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