Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Intangibles

by Jeff Butler
Adoption Ministry 1:27 Program Director

Ethiopia is a place of many contrasts. I’ve seen the ugliness of what diseases such as leprosy or tuberculosis do to destroy bodies, and I’ve seen the beauty of what healing hands and effective medicine can do. I’ve seen the pain of hunger brought on by extreme poverty and yet the joy that comes from a little food and a warm embrace.
I’ve seen the despair of hopelessness when there is no work to do and no way to provide, and I have seen the vigor that comes from beginning an income-generating activity leading to a life of self-sustainability! Poverty and richness, sorrow and joy, death and life, despair and hope, suffering and comfort. These contrasts are everywhere you look in Ethiopia.
It’s always challenging not to see people and their circumstances through my American eyes. Their lives and culture are so vastly different from ours, and yet - just like you and me - they are people with wants, needs, hurts, and hopes. Our work in Ethiopia is to move the most vulnerable families from the verge of collapse to stability, and then help as many as possible move to self-sustainability through economic empowerment. Helping people out of hopelessness is both hard work and great joy! Nothing is more gratifying than seeing people’s lives transformed and the contagious enthusiasm that spills from their lives as they are able to provide for themselves.
Most encouraging are the tangible changes I am able to see in the lives our AM 1:27 families each time I go to Ethiopia. I see tangible change in the health of the children and parents, in the work they can do, in the ways they can now provide and in their ability to help others within their communities.
But on my last trip one of our case managers helped me to see some dramatic “intangibles” in the lives of the families we serve. Ephrem serves as our AM 1:27 Case Manager at our Meseret Kristos project area in Addis Ababa. After we visited families in the MKC area, Ephrem shared with me how the lives of many of the families are being transformed from the inside out! He shared with me how the AM 1:27 Program is having a holistic impact on the total health and well-being of these families. When people suffer from extreme poverty, they typically have no self-worth, no self-esteem. As a result, it’s difficult for them to have healthy and productive relationships with other people and isolation results, profoundly affecting everything in their lives. I began to realize that extreme poverty does not just have a physical or material impact, but an emotional and psychological one as well.

Ephrem continued to share with me how when a family is stabilized and sustained, they begin to become healthy, not just physically, but mentally, emotionally, and spiritually! The support they receive begins to heal and strengthen the whole person. Ephrem says our AM 1:27 families begin to look for ways to engage with others and to help others within their communities. Many begin growing in a Christ-centered faith and become more involved within their churches. Their renewed lives lead them to dream and hope for a better life for their children. Often they express a desire to learn a new income-generating skill so they can become self-sustaining and no longer need support!
MK0032 2
Ephrem helped me to see more clearly that the tangible help that all of our AM 1:27 Sponsors are providing is having an incredible impact on the “intangible” transformation occurring in these families. Thank you AM 1:27 Sponsors for your partnership with us to help people experience the tangibles and the intangibles of life transformation!

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