Saturday, May 31, 2014

Bragging on one of our own


Those are just a few adjectives that describe Jeff Butler, our board member and Adoption Ministry 1:27 Director.  He and his wife Chris are a vital and well-loved part of our Adoption Ministry family.  If you haven’t met them yet, you really need to!  They have nine children, seven who are adopted (three from Ethiopia) and Jeff volunteers selflessly in directing the 1:27 program.  The Butlers are financially committed to this ministry as well.

Recently, Jeff was honored as ‘Volunteer of the Year’ by the company he works for.  He is directing the $5,000 grant he was awarded to Adoption Ministry of YWAM Ethiopia

The company featured Jeff in a recent article in the employee newsletter which goes out to over 40,000 employees and brings tremendous exposure to our ministry.  Here are some excerpts:

 “Poverty is a prison that traps people. When we can give them a key to open the prison door, they run out and find freedom and hope,” says Jeff Butler, who recently won the Volunteer of the Year gold award.  Two of Jeff’s peers nominated him for the award in recognition of his volunteer work as director of Adoption Ministry 1:27.

This U.S.-based charity focuses on humanitarian efforts in Ethiopia, with U.S. donors supporting Ethiopian counterparts through an adopt-a-family program. To date, this effort has provided financial assistance to more than 400 families fighting poverty and illness.
In a country where it’s commonplace for children to be left orphaned in the streets when a family can’t afford to care for them, the goal of Adoption Ministry 1:27 is to keep Ethiopian children with their parents.  Jeff makes an annual two-week trip to Ethiopia at his own expense to monitor the progress of the program.


He explains that his goal in creating Adoption Ministry 1:27 was “to help stabilize these families and enable them to become self-sustaining by teaching them how to start small businesses.” Some of the businesses include injera (Ethiopian bread) baking, sewing, selling fruits and vegetables at the market and livestock raising.

Jeff credits his job for giving him the means to both have a large family and help so many other families through his volunteer work.

“I had visited several orphanages and saw what happens to children who lose their parents. I thought that if we could get upstream of the crisis, we could help vulnerable families before they disintegrated. We should not only adopt orphans, we should also help prevent orphans. This is what  Adoption Ministry 1:27 is doing.”


Just back from his seventh visit to Ethiopia, he describes visiting a family of eight. “They were among the poorest I’ve seen. The father died, and the mother was left trying to care for the children. She had severe health problems and couldn’t work.”The children felt hopeless. They couldn’t go to school because they had no money for uniforms, books or lunches. Thankfully, a couple traveling with Jeff decided to support this needy family. Jeff says, “You should have seen the faces of the kids and mother when we told them the news.”

Jeff says he’s very thankful to the Foundation for awarding a $5,000 grant to his nonprofit and for the many other grants he’s earned each time he logs 25 hours of volunteer service.

“I believe it is the mark of a great company that understands the value of serving and giving back. The award means more desperate families will see a brighter future.”

His reward? “My reward is seeing lives change one family at a time. We can all do something, and that might mean everything to someone else.”


If you would like to read more about Adoption Ministry 1:27 please visit our website here.  Jeff is also available to come to your church to share opportunities for congregations to partner with us. We are seeking an interested church to adopt one of our YWAM project areas, similar to what Brooklake Church and Lake City Church in Washington state have done (read more here). Please contact us at: for more information.

Monday, May 26, 2014

A Whole New Perspective

A group of guys representing the University of Kentucky football team, along with the assistant athletic director, their trainer and a few athletes from other sports are in Ethiopia getting a firsthand look at life in a country a world apart from their own. 

These young men are held in high esteem in their world.  In this one, they humbled themselves and served – with great hearts.

Lining walls with canvas ‘insulation’

Roof repair

Furniture delivery


Food distribution

Prison visits with food and gifts

The daily existence these folks experience is hard to fathom for all of us who live in wealth and plenty but the team has been quietly taking it all in as they interact with and love on many of Ethiopia’s poorest. 









And there has been lots of fun too!


As the team finishes up their week on Wednesday, they’ll return to the UK with an altered perspective and an experience of a lifetime!


For more perspective on this team, be sure to read Brett Johnson's blog.  Brett went to Ethiopia last year with the UK mixed sports team and is in Ethiopia for an extended trip this summer, serving in a variety of mission opportunities.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

A Gift of a Lifetime

by Anna Jones
Mission Team Member – Brooklake Church

Knowing that we’d soon be meeting the family that we’ve sponsored for over a year felt kind of like a blind date. We already considered Firehiwot and her kids a part of our family. The people of Shashemene have been in our thoughts and prayers daily, since Brooklake adopted them in 2012. We couldn’t help but wonder what our first meeting would be like and if Firehiwot would love us as much as we already loved her. We spent an entire day driving from Addis to Shashemene. The next day, our mission team went to Mana Gamachuu (the YWAM Orphanage in Shashemene) to distribute the monthly food and supply rations to the widows in the Adoption Ministry 1:27 sponsorship program that Brooklake supports. Ephraim, the Director, told us that Firehiwot just found out the day before that we had wired the money and fully paid for her new house. She knew a team of people would be there but she had no idea that Pete and I would be on the trip.
As our van pulled into Mana Gamachuu’s gate, we saw the women (about 45) seated in the grass awaiting our arrival. We all jumped out, eager to meet them. Pete and I were standing, waiting to hear what we should do next, when Ephraim walked up and asked if we’ve met Firehiwot yet. We said no. Even though we’ve seen her in pictures, I couldn’t pick her out of the large group of women. He left for a second and came back and said that she was coming over. Instantly, I had butterflies in my stomach. She emerged from the group and he spoke to her in Amharic. He was explaining to her that we were her sponsors! What happened next helped move this day from typical to one of the pivotal and best days of our life (along with our wedding day and the birth day of our son).

Firehiwot heard that we were her sponsors and she immediately leapt into our arms. She was hugging us so tight and tears were streaming down her cheeks. She doesn’t know much English but she kept repeating “I LOVE YOU! and THANK YOU!”. The look on her face said it all. Every ounce of her appreciation and gratitude showed and I could tell that she felt the same about us as we did for her. As we (Anna & Firehiwot) continued to hold each other, Pete surrounded us with his arms and just held us. There aren’t enough words to express what we felt in that moment. We all just held each other, sobbing with joy. I asked her where each of her kids were, calling them by name. She was astounded that we knew each one and knew their names. We wanted her to know that we meant it when we said that we consider them family. The kids were at home so she invited us to her property.

That afternoon, a group of us drove over to meet the rest of her family and check out the property. We were excited to see where the new house would go. The entire family and neighbors were waiting outside and greeted us as we pulled up. Besufekad, the boy that is a year older than our son and who we helped get medical care for his eyes, was a bit shy and stood behind the family. We called each of the kids by name and they continued the be mesmerized by the fact that we actually KNEW them! We took time to hug and kiss each of them and Firehiwot asked us to come into the existing home. She showed us around the 2 rooms and then we brought out the puzzle piece picture we had made of their family. We explained that it was through God that we were able to provide the new house for her and that many of our friends and family donated to help with the costs – we didn’t do it alone. We explained that each puzzle piece contained the name of a donor and then our picture was at the bottom. I couldn’t get through the explanation without crying and Firehiwot began crying, too. It was so humbling yet so amazing to acknowledge how faithful and powerful God is and how he can work through even the most average of people. I read her the verse that we wrote on the back of the puzzle: Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”. Firehiwot immediately put the framed photo on the one table in the house. She continued to repeat “thank you – thank you”.
I know that verse is very true for Firehiwot and her family. God does have plans for them, and he will give them a future full of promise. Firehiwot is not defined by her circumstances. Her husband abandoned the family when she was pregnant and her older daughter left her own child in Firehiwot’s care while she abandoned the family, too. Yet, through all this struggle, Firehiwot has managed to keep the family intact and make sure her kids attend school, very hopeful to break the cycle of poverty that they’ve been subjected to. One thing never left – God’s love for the family and Firehiwot’s love for her children. We could feel that from the minute we saw them together.

We had no idea this happened but after our meeting with Firehiwot, a few Brooklake staff members on our mission team interviewed Firehiwot. They asked her what life was like before we sponsored her. She told them it was pretty destitute and that she was able to send the kids to school but they had no food, she couldn’t even provide them with tea for lunch. Now they have plenty to eat and have access to medical care that is crucial to their survival. Besufekad can see again! The team asked her what it was like to meet her sponsors and through teary eyes she said “It was like meeting my mother for the first time. It was one of the best days of my life and when I look at them, I see God.” When we heard this, we stood there and cried. The magnitude of this entire day fell over us and we were speechless. We stepped out in Faith, following God’s plan for us. There were times of doubt, pain, and sacrifice, but we plugged on, knowing God was in control. The reward of that moment was greater than any struggle it took to get there.
The plan all along has been to use our sponsorship to stabilize Firehiwot’s family, get them healthy, provide a safe house for them to live in, and provide an income generating activity. Once that’s achieved, Firehiwot will be self-sustaining and will no longer need our support. She’ll be a contributing member in her community and will have a great freedom in being able to provide for her own family. Even though someday soon Firehiwot will no longer need our sponsorship, she will always be our friend and part of our family. We found out that Firehiwot has already taken the required classes and submitted her proposal to start an income generating activity. She wants to open a kindergarten and she’s well on her way. We are so proud of her and support her 110%. We hope to be able to travel back next year to see the family, the new house, and hopefully her business. Most of all, we just want to continue to show her that we’re there for her, we love her, and that God is providing a hope and a future for her. He is prospering her already! God is SO good and SO faithful. If ever we should forget, we’ll look back to this time in our life as just one of the many proofs he’s given us.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

No Longer Abandoned

by Joy Casey in Ethiopia

I wish every one of you could visit the orphanage in Shashemene called Mana Gammachuu. It is a sweet place for eight babies ranging from 4-months-old to 15 months, all but one found abandoned.

If you have been reading this blog or Facebook over the past year, you will know that our goal is to pass the adoption torch on to Christian Ethiopian families for them to adopt these gems. Several of you have donated funds to make this happen, and we THANK YOU from the bottom of our heart!
In February the orphanage held a two day training for couples from the surrounding churches who might be interested in adopting an orphan from their community. We were ecstatic when, after the training, six families came to the orphanage and picked out a child to love forever!
Tuesday, Jeff and I had the satisfaction of witnessing the court procedure, legally giving three of the babies a forever family. Afterwards, we all squeezed into our van and headed to the orphanage to unite Saron, Hawii, and Sena with their new parents.
It mostly went very well, except for little Sena who was overwhelmed with all the new faces and only wanted his favorite nanny. Because of this, his adoptive mother will come and live at the orphanage for several days and become his primary caretaker until he relaxes with her and she can take him home peacefully.
One little boy, Tamarit, was abandoned by his birthmother a year ago, but his maternal aunt’s family came forward and offered to raise him. Kabene and her husband Bekele and their four children are a sweet family, albeit very poor. In order for them to have the means to raise little Tamarit, Adoption Ministry 1:27 has added them as a sponsored family. I can’t think of any other family more deserving of help. Tamarit will be cherished by his aunt’s family and our case manager will be following his progress monthly.
I have learned a lot walking through the process of domestic adoption in Ethiopia. The lead woman in the Ministry of Woman’s Affairs is a lovely, kind woman who has a heart for women and children; her position is not just a job to her.
Tamarit adoptive mom tamarit MOWA lady
She is advocating with her superiors for adoption, and sees the necessity of continuing with international adoption, too. The president of the court is also very pleased with children being adopted domestically, and without his influence and support this new thing in the Shashemene area could be much more cumbersome.
Three other babies are waiting for their chosen families to finalize their adoption paperwork, and that will happen very soon. That leaves one little one to be adopted... and seven empty cribs that will again be filled. Then the process will begin again to find families for these new children God has assigned to our care.
There are costs involved with a domestic adoption in Ethiopia. Sometimes the adopting family can easily cover the fees for their homestudy, police investigation and medical examinations, but the orphanage (that is us!) is required to provide the training (about $2,000 a session), pay for the court proceedings, make triplicate copies of all documents, and provide a contribution to the African Children’s Fund. We will, of course, also help a family financially if they are unable to cover their costs.
We have set the average cost of a domestic adoption at $300 per adoption. If you would like to join us in passing the adoption torch to Ethiopian families, you can 'purchase' an adoption through our Gift Catalog… we would be most grateful!

Thursday, May 15, 2014


by Joy Casey in Ethiopia
Shy smiles, giggles and tattered clothes,
A naked baby with runny nose,
Mothers coming with hope in their heart
For their child’s life to have a good start.
Mana Gammachuu, a kindergarten to reach
Young souls and minds to tenderly teach,
God’s love for them in amazing ways
To guide them and keep them all of their days.
It was a lovely May morning and patient mothers and eager children waited for their turn as each was called by the case manager of Adoption Ministry 1:27. With the generous backing of Lake City Church in Tacoma, Washington, we are opening up a brand new kindergarten in this village, a predominately M*sl*m town.
Forty children of the families being supported by Adoption Ministry 1:27 will be given a kindergarten education, free of charge. This is a big deal, believe me.
The families we have been working with these past months are destitute and many of their children have not had the opportunity of school… ever. The goal of Adoption Ministry 1:27 is to get all children registered for school, and the case manager in this area will be hard at work in August getting children registered and buying uniforms and school supplies.
In Ethiopia, first grade requires that a child be able to read and write and most children, if given the opportunity, start kindergarten at age 4 in KG1 and progress through KG2 and KG3. We are opening up two classes of KG2 for children ages 5-9. One class will be for the younger and the other for the older children. Down the road, we hope to add KG1, which is more of a nursery school, for 4 & 5-year-olds.
After taking the information about the child, the boys were measured for pants and the girls for skirts. The women trained in sewing at Living Hope Maternity Home in Adama are going to make the uniform pants and skirts and t-shirts will be ordered to complete their school outfit.
“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” … remember that adage? Some sports clothes and soccer balls were donated and we gave them out. White shorts went to the evangelists and black shorts for the church staff, and a rousing soccer match ensued. I think it might have been the first time that many of these men had ever worn shorts!
They did not have sports shoes, so they were out in the field kicking the ball in dress shoes, sandals, flops and bare feet. Most of the church staff were “seasoned” and most of the evangelists were younger… but guess what? The old guys won! It did my heart good to see these men who work so hard and face so many challenges, laugh and play together.
Today I learned that pests don’t like garlic or hot peppers. Wario, a YWAM missionary who is teaching sustainable organic gardening techniques to our evangelists in two villages, saw that some insects were invading the cabbage that was planted, so he mixed up garlic, berbere, and soap and sprayed it on the plants. He also planted garlic all around the perimeter of the beds to repel the damaging insects.
Wario had a teaching time with the evangelists about how to grow vegetables next to their homes to help feed their families. These gardens can only produce during the rainy season; however, the large garden on the church property has water year-around and can flourish. Those evangelists living in the towns can benefit from selling fresh vegies during the dry season when traditionally they have to import the food from other areas of Ethiopia. Our hope is that creative gardening plus harvesting the leaves of Moringa trees that have been planted will bring in much needed income for the evangelist’s families.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...