Sunday, December 21, 2008

Prayer Changes Everything!

Tezera Kebede - Orphanage Director
Orphans and Widows' Home

We had a great question from one of our blog readers:

I just read a little on your blog page (great blog and website, btw!!!). If you get a moment, what happened with the baby boy? Sweet little thing, I am praying that he is alright. Blessings, Cathy

So glad that you asked, Cathy! Here is Joy's response, retelling in more detail the story of this sweet baby boy.

Three months ago an older, very poor woman gave birth to a baby boy. She simply had no resources or strength to care for him, so she brought him to our orphanage wrapped in rags. We cleaned him up, fed him and tenderly cared for him, but he was in a weakened condition and became quite sick. Our nurse took him to the doctor who placed him in the local hospital on antibiotics for his pneumonia. Pneumonia in Ethiopia can be, and quite often is, fatal. Over the next month or so, this tiny baby was in and out of the hospital struggling for survival. He was not gaining weight. When I went to see him in October nothing could have prepared me for the condition of this extremely poor, crowded and dirty hospital. A nanny stayed with our baby around the clock providing full care including his bedding, food, diapers and clothing. I was alarmed at this tiny patient’s condition and obvious deterioration, so we made the decision to pack him up and take him to Addis Ababa where more sophisticated care could be provided.

A very capable pediatrician examined him in the Korean Christian Hospital in the capital city, and he immediately hospitalized him and put him on a broad spectrum antibiotic. This hospital was clean and well staffed. His nanny at his side, our precious boy received good care. The doctor also was concerned about his heart and ordered an echocardiogram and EKG. The results of those tests showed he has a ventricular septal defect which is a small hole in his heart. This can be corrected with surgery, or many times it closes by itself over time.

Now Baby M is back in our nursery and is doing very well! With his pneumonia finally cleared up, he is gaining weight and is a happy boy. Every month our staff takes him back to the cardiologist in Addis Ababa and the doctors feel confident that his heart problem will resolve on its own. And now he is available for adoption!

Many, many people have lifted this fragile little one up before the Lord and we know that God’s hand is on him. One of our orphanage directors has a prayer room in her compound. Tezera is a prayer warrior of the first order, and once a week her prayer team meets for 24 hours of prayer. While we were in Addis with the baby, Tezera called me and said, “Joy, Baby M’s heart is okay. During our prayer time last night, God said he will have no trouble with his heart.” That news came at a time when I wasn’t all that sure of the prognosis! What an encouragement to know that this godly woman prays for the children.

If any of you reading this has a heart to pray, would you consider praying for one of our children until he (or she) is given a permanent family to love, care for and guide him? My goal is to have every child in our adoption program matched with a prayer partner here in the U.S. who will commit to diligently pray for that child. When a family has chosen a particular child, then we ask that you continue to pray for the child and his family until the adoption is finalized.

What an honor we have to stand boldly before the Lord of all holding the hand of one child. John 15:5 says, “Apart from Me, you can do nothing,” and we know that is absolutely true!

Joy Casey

Thursday, December 18, 2008

We Know Our Kids

by Joy Casey

When we started our adoption thrust in Ethiopia, we knew one of the strengths of our ministry was our relationship with the children in our orphanages. I rely on the directors to identify children for our adoption program, but because I am the point person for the adoptive families here in the U.S., I also needed to meet and get to know the children myself.
I traveled to Ethiopia with the express purpose of exploring the backgrounds, strengths and weaknesses of the children. I talked to the orphanage staff who were very forthcoming about the children, but I also wanted to get an assessment of how they were doing in school academically as well as socially.
So, I set about visiting every child’s school and speaking with their teachers. Not only did I get a chance to talk to the person who spends the majority of every day with the child, but I was able to see the school setting and assess their teachers and quality of education. I am happy to say that the educators I met and spoke with were dedicated professionals wanting to bring out the best in their students. Class size is extremely large and many schools teach in shifts, but still the teachers knew the children and candidly shared with me about them. I asked how they could be better supported academically, and over and over the teachers said that if they had consistent help at “home” most of them would be good, if not exceptional, students. To that end, Adoption Ministry hired a tutor to come to the orphanage every afternoon and spend several hours helping the children with their homework with an emphasis on their English studies.
I also had time to just hang out with the children. We took long walks together, they showed me their homework, and loved combing my hair and marveling over my freckles! The older children had a fairly good handle on English and talked to me about their hopes and dreams. I played peek-a-boo with the toddlers giving them big hugs and spent hours holding and feeding the babies.
It was during these precious times with the children that the Lord impressed on my heart His incredible love for each child. Yes, I need to do my part as well as I can, but this ministry is in His hands and we will move ahead under the anointing of the Father of the fatherless.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A Time To Listen - A Time To Pray

By Mark Wolbert

My wife Liane and I led a missions team to Ethiopia this past July bringing encouragement to orphans and widows, teaching children in a VBS setting, giving medical check-ups to street children, and building relationships with YWAM leadership in Ethiopia. A busy time! My trip this past October was much more relaxed and I was able to devote longer periods of time to listen to the children’s testimonies and to minister to the spiritual needs of the YWAM Children’s Director as well. This was a great privilege.

I stayed in a small wooden building in the YWAM Children’s Home compound. My makeshift room soon became known as a prayer chapel. The young people came one by one eager to tell the amazing stories of their life experiences. Through tears, they recollected their parents’ death from complications due to AIDS and the terror of being turned out onto the streets by relatives, some as young as 5 or 6 years of age. They laid bare their souls as they told about begging for food to stave off starvation. Some of the children had formed pseudo-family groups for protection and then watched as these “family members” over-dosed on street drugs or were killed in gang violence.

When the leader of YWAM’s Children’s Home showed up with bread and tea to give to the hungry children on the streets, it was hard for these throwaway children to believe Abdissa was genuine and had pure motives. Abdissa did not push children to come in from the streets right away; he spent time getting to know them. He fed them, befriended them and introduced them to Jesus. He reached out as a father to these fatherless children and they slowly began to trust Abdissa. Because of this young man’s consistent love, one by one, 25 children moved into the sanctuary of the Children’s Home where security, regular food, education and reassuring boundaries awaited them. I was able to pray with each young person who came to me and I especially loved the end of their stories when they told about finding the saving grace of Jesus and how He healed them and brought them into a good place.

For several nights I sat and listened to the pain of these young people. I listened to their hopes and fears of the future. My heart began to break like a father for every one of them. I had no solutions to offer. I could only reflect the Father’s love to these children as I prayed for each one, broken but now on the path to wholeness.
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