Monday, May 31, 2010

Poor in the eyes of the world - Rich in faith

from Joy in Ethiopia

For the first part of our trip to Ethiopia, a team from a YWAM ministry called Streams of Mercy has traveled with us. It has been great fun to show these good people the various works that YWAM-Ethiopia are involved with. I have to admit that it has been extremely challenging for me to find the time to write. When I do get to my room at the end of a day, I am so tired I can barely wiggle! However, I want to tell about the day we drove out to a small village.

This village is out in the middle of nowhere where it is very hot, there is little water and the people are poorer than I have ever seen. The children are in rags and there are many health problems. This past year has seen 108 families convert to Christianity, secondary to national missionaries befriending these people and gently teaching Jesus Christ in a culturally relevant way. You can read an earlier blog post about the exciting day our Missions Director and local pastors baptized some of these converts.

After a two hour drive, we stopped at the property given to the converts of the village. It was fulfilling for me to see the water station we have built bringing clean water to the village. Previously, the closest water was 2 kilometers or more away. Our group was immediately surrounded by exuberant children and we had fun blowing up balloons and seeing the delight of the boys and girls batting about the bright red, blue and green balloons. We walked across the field to the large tree adjacent to the property where 22 goats and 20 families were gathered. These goats were donated by Life Church in Olathe, Kansas to be given to the twenty very poor families identified by the village elders for our sponsorship program. The goats each had a number painted on their rump and there were numbers in a hat. One by one the sponsored child and his or her parent came forward and drew a number and then picked the matching goat. It was great fun and a huge, HUGE blessing for these families. Two widows were also presented with a goat, and they were beyond happy. The village chief gave a speech giving thanks for the water and his appreciation that Christians were concerned about the welfare of the entire village and brought in water before building a worship center. He concluded his speech with, "May your God bless you." The government representative for the village seconded the chief and thanked us in advance for building a kindergarten for the children. He took his hat off and bowed to show his appreciation.

There are so many that cooperated in various ways to make all these things happen for the villagers... and then I ask, why here? It has nothing. The people are some of the poorest of the poor on this earth. Yet, God loves each one of them as much as He loves you and me. The scripture from James 2 haunts me, "Did not God choose those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and inherit the kingdom promised to those who love Him?" It goes on to say not to insult the poor and definitely not to show favoritism. Being with these villagers has shown me God's heart on many levels. He certainly is no respecter of persons. I sat next to a woman from Streams of Mercy who is extremely wealthy and loves the Lord, and on the other side of me sat a dusty, illiterate woman who has nine children, her husband is dead and she has never known what it feels like to be full. My wealthy friend and this widow both glow with love for Jesus, and I, too, am radiant that God chose me to be in this place at this time. He is so wonderfully GOOD!

photos in Gutumuma taken by Mike Monahan, March 2010

Sunday, May 30, 2010

The tragedy of abandonment

Report from the Streams of Mercy team visiting YWAM's Widows and Orphans Home in Adama:

By Wick Nease

The stories of the babies are tragic.  In Ethiopia, a single girl who gives birth usually can’t keep her child.  This would bring great shame on her family, so there is an epidemic of abandoned babies in this nation.  Our hearts broke when we heard that many of these babies are taken out to the wild and left for hyenas to eat.  In the remote villages, when they hear the hyenas howling in the night, they say “A baby has just been eaten.”  This is an unbelievable tragedy.

Streams of Mercy brought in infant T-shirts and baby formula for the orphanages.  It is extremely difficult to obtain baby formula in Ethiopia.  It is scarce and VERY expensive.  We were able to bring in about 100 lbs. of baby formula for the four homes...

Read the whole story at the Streams of Mercy blog:  I LOVE babies!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Updates from Ethiopia

Streams of Mercy Team in T'ede

I have three updates from Ethiopia to share via the Streams of Mercy blog:

We are here to present two donkeys to Pastor Zerahun and his wife from Streams of Mercy. This will enable them to carry water and food to the needy of his area. This Donkey Hauling Link (DHL), will provide transport to help many poor villagers in 5 villages in this area. These are some of God’s hidden heroes scattered around the world...

Samuel stood before us. He’s 11 years old. He was nervous, but quickly overcame the pressure of speaking before us and said “I am very happy - I love my home here.” Then, he told us the difference this home has made in his life. Samuel was orphaned when both of his parents died. He was taken in by an uncle and, as is often the case, became a slave of the family, forced to work and care for the couple’s child. When he didn’t work hard enough or quickly enough, he was repeatedly beaten. He tried to escape once, but they caught him and beat him mercilessly. When he got a chance, he ran away for good...

The Ethiopian food was fantastic. The serving staff came with a huge assortment of food all served directly on Injira bread. Then came the fun of eating everything with our hands…. no silverware is used, and I have to admit that several people were a little nervous with the experience. We had beef, lamb, spinach, lentils, and a huge assortment of national dishes. The Injira bread is “interesting”, and not quite like anything any of us have ever eaten before...

Joy reports that there have been nine newly abandoned babies that were brought to our Widows and Orphans Homes in the western part of the country.  We thank God that those children were rescued and brought to us!  Those are nine precious lives that will be matched with forever families in the United States.  All of them will be brought to our Adama Widows and Orphans Home where they will be nourished and loved on. 

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Streams of Mercy Team

Joining Joy and Mark in Ethiopia right now is a team of wonderful folks with Streams of Mercy, led by Wick Nease.

Turning off the main road unto unpaved, bumpy, trash-filled streets, we knew that we were headed for a place out of our comfort zone. The leper colony in Addis Ababa is home to 15,000 lepers. Our discomfort was not just physical. It was nearly impossible not to notice the overwhelming smells, the swarming flies, and the staring eyes all around. We walked into a small courtyard with the lepers' community church building. It’s a simple structure made out of blue plastic and large sticks for the walls and ceiling. It has a sackcloth floor, collected from the dump. The pastor beamed as he described the history of the church and the joy at having this beautiful place to worship. This is the worship center to over 200 members...

To read more about this day, please go here to the Streams of Mercy blog!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Mark checks in from Ethiopia

Mark Wolbert is our Missions Director.  He arrived in Ethiopia last Thursday with Shea Connell and Dr. Tom Siler.  Mark sent this email before Joy arrived there Sunday night. 

Dear Friends,

I'm writing to you from my room at the Catholic Guest House. Rain drops are tapping on the windows, wind is blowing through the trees and the numerous dogs are barking about their dislike of the current weather (or whatever dogs bark about at all hours of the night here in Addis Ababa). 

We've been to the Leper Colony to meet with the Pastor and the young people who help run the ministry there. They are such wonderful people - men and women who've decided to serve the poor living at the city dump and who love the outcasts of Ethiopian society.

We've met with the orphans at the YWAM ministry and renewed our friendships with the directors and staff. I feel like part of the family now!  The boys ask me if I'm going to be living at "home" while I'm in Ethiopia - how's that for feeling welcomed?!

In a few days we'll travel to Adama where we run a home for widows & orphans together. The director's name is Tezera.  She had a dream from the Lord which didn't come true for 10 years! But now, everything in the dream is being lived out, down to an apron she wore in the dream, which was a gift brought to Tezera from my wife.  Liane had no idea she was fulfilling part of the dream; she was just wanting to buy an hostess gift for Tezera & prayed in the store, "Lord what should I buy for this woman?"  The answer was an apron and when Tezera opened her gift, she knew the widows & orphans home was going to be a reality, because everything - down to the very apron from her dream - was coming true!

We'll also travel to within 7 miles of the Sudanese border to our 3 orphanages in the western part of Ethiopia. We most likely will be hand-carrying several infants who've been abandoned back to the larger orphanage in Adama.  This is a road trip that takes 10-14 hours in a van on bumpy, curvy roads...  It's a WILD ride!!  We pass by baboons & monkeys hanging in the trees; occasionally we see herds of camel along the way.  I have yet to see a McDonalds or 7-11 though...

I'll have new photos on my return and stories of how God touched my heart and how He's using babies & orphans & widows to make me more like Himself.


Friday, May 21, 2010

Monica's Love Chapter

Monica Barlow is a missionary living in Gimbie, Ethiopia.  She and her husband Scott, who is a nurse working at the Adventist hospital there, have huge hearts for orphaned and homeless children.  Monica often soldiers without her husband at her side as he frequently returns to the U.S. to earn enough money to keep them going another year.  She shared the following paraphrase of 1 Corinthians 13...

My Love Chapter

1 Corinthians 13 in MBV (Monica Barlow Version)
(You might want to read an original version of this in your Bible first)

If I speak fluently in Amharic or Afaan Oromo, but have not love, I sound like the guy chanting on the loud speaker at 5:00 every morning (when the power is on).

If I can explain Daniel and Revelations and lead a successful evangelistic series (televised around the world), and I understand all cultural differences and can quote all of the Spirit of Prophecy, and if I even have the faith that can jumpstart the old green pickup truck, but have not love, I am worthless.

If I give everything (money, clothes, etc) to the poor and even withstand Admin Committee meetings (these are similar to being burned at the stake), but still I don’t have love, I’ve gotten nowhere.

I am not patient (far from it); I am not always kind.  

I envy those who don’t have to get as involved with projects as much as I do. 
I don’t usually boast, but I can be proud (doesn’t everyone need some respect?).
When cornered, I have been known to be rude.
I am not usually self-seeking (but don’t eat all the chocolate chips), and unfortunately when I haven’t had much sleep I can be easily angered, and (I can’t help myself) I can remember all the wrongs done to me since 1972 (second grade).
I don’t enjoy watching people hurt themselves, but I love when someone is truthful, even if it will hurt my feelings.

I always protect the underdog.

I try to trust (unless you’ve duped me before).
I easily lose sight of my hope, but persevere because I feel responsible and can’t give up (that would be like getting a B-, and only A’s will do).


God never fails me.

One day there will be no sermons, no struggling to learn the native language, and understanding will reach its limit.

For now, I only can see the smallest piece of the puzzle around me and I don’t really understand very much about God.  But one day, He will come and finish my puzzle and answer all my questions.

When I was new at this Christianity thing, I spoke with ignorance, I thought of ignorant ideas, I even rationalized that I knew what was going on around me.

But now that God has opened my eyes to what really matters, I no longer want to entertain those past ideas or thoughts.

The first week I arrived here, I broke my glasses. Ever since, I have been using Alicia’s (almost a year and a half), and they are not my prescription. So, I have not seen things very clearly. But one day, I will see things that no spectacles can clear up. Only looking through the eyes of God will I be able to see Him for who He really is.

But for now, until Christ returns and all truth is revealed, I know that I must trust God completely, hope without ceasing, and love extravagantly. But most of all, I need to love extravagantly, so that my mission here will have purpose, be worthwhile, and make a difference.

Be sure to read a few of the other posts we've featured by Monica:
Helping the Poor and Needy
A Street Kid to Desire
Street Kids part 2
Old Woman in the Shoe

Don't you love Monica's insight, her honesty and her example of service to Christ and His children?  (Don't tell her but Joy is taking her some Oreos, some Hershey chocolate and a packet of Miracle-Gro.)  What would you wish for if you were living there??

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Leaving on a Jet Plane

Once again, Joy and Mark are traveling to Ethiopia.  Please pray with us regarding the ash cloud over Europe - it is affecting travel again in several major cities!  Another prayer concern is the election - and the reaction to its outcome - which will be held in Ethiopia on May 23rd. 

They'll be hosting a group of people interested in helping Adoption Ministry financially and your prayers over that time are much appreciated.  Wick Nease, of Streams of Mercy, will be with the group.  His heart for widows and orphans is lived out through his ministry - be sure to check out the Streams of Mercy website and blog!

I wanted to share a couple of good blog posts just because I know our readers want to learn as much as possible about adoption and the issues surrounding it. 

This is a very thought-provoking post about adoption really being a band-aid over a gaping wound.  Share your thoughts in the comments below.

How one family sees God at work in their children, preparing them for a trip to Ethiopia.

Such a great perspective!

Moving ahead when disappointment makes us wonder.

Thank you so much for your continued prayers for Joy & Mark, for our ministry, for the upcoming trip to Ethiopia and for reading our blog!! 

Friday, May 14, 2010

Do Something

If you are adopting and have a blog or are raising funds for your adoption, be sure to visit Kristen's blog We Are THAT Family today and link up!  She is encouraging her readers to visit the links and choose a family adopting to shop from, support with encouragement and pray over! As she writes so clearly from her heart: 

"I strongly believe that God urges every Christian to care for widows and orphans and when we do something for one of these, we do it unto Him."


Thursday, May 13, 2010


This has been a week of heaviness and hard things for our ministry.  Thanks to so many of you for your prayers and concern.  God is most certainly the Burden-Bearer.  I love how the Amplified Bible puts it:

Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully.
1 Peter 5:7

I wanted to share with you a blog post from an adoptive mom who likens her first taste of Africa and processing of it to someone who is going through the five stages of grief.  She expresses so well the overwhelming feelings that come after being there, where these precious children were born.

"Join me in this conflicted state, where my sin and my obedience wrestle daily. Choose to live with eyes open. Stop spectating. Suit up, and get on the field, where you strive for the goal but often meet resistance and sometimes fail. It is not funner. It's harder. At times it feels like a burden. But it is what is true. What is real. And it is worth it, because it is where Jesus resides."

Friday, May 7, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be His people, His treasured possession.
Deuteronomy 7:6

Not flesh of my flesh
Nor bone of my bone,
But still miraculously
My own.
Never forget
For a single minute:
You didn't grow under my heart
But in it.
© Fleur Conkling Heyliger

Happy Mother's Day!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

We Are Family Night... at the ballpark

Sunday, May 2nd was 'We Are Family' Night at the Seattle Mariners Safeco Field and a few of YWAM's adoptive families got in on the fun.  Enjoy these photos!

Sunday, May 2, 2010


Beautiful customized paintings of 20 things your family is about! 
Proceeds go to bring home an adopted child from Ethiopia!

A 9 year old reminds us that sometimes we need to do it -
even though we're scared.

Professional photographer Nathan Golden shares some amazing pictures
he took in Ethiopia on a trip with Joy last month.

Changed forever and so worth it.

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