Thursday, July 29, 2010

Linking Together

"I began to ask myself questions - questions like why wouldn’t I take in a child that needed a home? I would think about my 8 passenger minivan (with 5 passengers), my 6 seater table, my dedication to convenience and comfort…"

@Unveiled Faces
"So, I've heard a few times that if I keep telling it like it is, then no one will want to adopt older kids anymore.  I have to tell you that this idea expresses a complete misunderstanding of what adoption is all about. When families adopt, (as God does), we don't set out to take the path of least resistance."

"Remember, we have no biological connection to Jesus. We began our lives in a different household, slaves of a different master. But we have been adopted, and our new legal relationship is true, real, and glorious. A right understanding of spiritual adoption can transform the way we think about physical adoption."

@Rage Against The Minivan
"I was glad to share a bit of our adoption story on a national media outlet. Leading up to the show, my mind was racing with points I wanted to make about adoption. It's something I'm so passionate about, and it's hard not to replay what I wish I would have said. Here's a bit of it . . ."

@It's Almost Naptime
"Usually when God is willing you to do something,
the doors will just open."

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

I Promise!

The Hannula family in Wisconsin brought Titus and Makeda home from Ethiopia in October 2009.  Kate sent us the following email, which gives you a little peek into family life with two kids adopted from Ethiopia. 

Titus and Makeda are pure joy! Titus is a non-stop talker and mover. He is super sweet and obedient, but wow, is he active! He is all boy, that is for sure! Makeda is a real sweetheart. She is very obedient. She has us laughing everyday as does Titus. They are both very funny. Makeda is very loving towards me but it did not happen all in one day. She is trusting and willing to love as the months go on. Now, you can tell that she truly is in love. Titus is still a bit stand-offish - as a boy can be - but I also feel that he is somewhat loyal in his affection to his birthmother. How can anyone replace her?  I can understand why he wouldn't or couldn't easily accept the affection of another. I am not concerned, just observant and understanding. He invites me to play soccer with him and that is definitely a sign that he accepts me and loves me. To play soccer with Titus is an honor!

They both cry at times for their mothers and their country and culture. We accept it as natural and healthy. They are both very open and honest about it with us and we are able to talk freely about it.

Makeda proudly said at dinner time, "I am going to eat ALL my food even if I don't like it!! I promise!!" Ooohs and ahhs filled the room. Then silence. "Weellllll...maybe I will. I may forget my promise."

Sunday, July 25, 2010

I Saw Jesus

Jeff Butler traveled to Ethiopia with YWAM by invitation from one of Adoption Ministry’s board members in April of 2009. Jeff most delighted in the children and connected immediately with the men and women serving in the orphanages and the streets of Ethiopia. When Jeff returned to the U.S., he and his wife began adoption proceedings and 8 months later, a 5-year-old girl and a 6-year-old boy joined their family! Jeff is leading a team from his church on a missions trip in November, 2010.

I Saw Jesus
by Jeff Butler

When was it that I saw Him?

Was it one of the many faces crowded on the busy streets of the teeming city we passed through?

Was it the beggar without legs and without hope, reaching out her hand for a scrap of bread?

Maybe I first saw Him there at one of the many orphanages where children curiously stared at my pale face.

Perhaps I saw Him comforting the dying mother as she said goodbye to her child for the last time.

I’m sure I saw Him holding numerous motherless babies who reached out from their cribs for a touch.

Or was it when two little children arrived from the countryside, no parents, no food, no names, and no clothes?

I know I saw Him more visible and real when, for the first time, I washed the dirty feet of a little orphan boy who is now my son. As I washed this little boy’s feet, I not only saw Jesus but I heard Him speaking to me very tenderly about real ministry and real worship, about real love, about real sacrifice, real giving and real joy. I saw Jesus up close and personal in the many faces of the people of Ethiopia, and my life has been changed forever.

The words of Matthew 25:34-40 became a living reality to me as never before. 

"For I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger and you invited Me in; naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.” vs. 35-36

Going to Ethiopia has changed my life, my family and my ministry. I thought I was going to help the people of Ethiopia, but God used the people of Ethiopia to help me! I saw the hands and feet of Jesus ministering to the people of Ethiopia through His followers serving, giving and loving. I saw the face of Jesus in the lives of the suffering, the hurting, the broken and the abandoned.

Be prepared to be changed forever when you go to Ethiopia. You need Ethiopia more than Ethiopia needs you!

Jeff (at left) with Ben Hull and five boys at our
Adama Widows and Orphans Home.
Cherinet (far right) is now at home with the Butlers,
along with his sister Beza.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Parenting children who come from a hard place

Children from hard places have unique histories and needs. As a result, parents of these children need to learn how to love and parent them well. This requires that parents not only learn strategies that will be effective in helping them heal, but they will also need to ‘un-learn’ previous ways of parenting — whether those are parenting strategies that were successful with their biological children, ways that they themselves were parented or parenting approaches that others in their church or circle of friends are using.

In this brief video, Dr. Purvis explains the need for parents to focus specifically on the child that God has called them to love and care for, and to parent that child in a way that can bring hope, healing and joy.

Learning & Un-Learning to Parent Your Child from a Hard Place from Tapestry on Vimeo.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Orphan Sunday - Nov.7th

This is something every church can be a part of.  How is your church involved in caring for orphans and widows?  How might you be a catalyst for change in response to God's command?  There are some really exciting things happening in churches all across America in answer to this call.  Stay tuned for more helpful information on church orphan, widow and adoption ministries.

Orphan Sunday Campaign Aims for 2,000 Local Events Nationwide

MCLEAN, VA — From Christianity Today to Catalyst, the biblical call to “defend the cause of the fatherless” (Isaiah 1:17) is on hearts and minds of Christians in a way not seen in generations. Last year, the national Orphan Sunday campaign led by the Christian Alliance for Orphans helped stoke this movement to a new intensity, including more than 1,500 local Orphan Sunday events nationwide. The 2010 campaign aims for more than 2,000 events across America the weekend of November 7, 2010 calling Christians to adoption, foster care and global orphan ministry.

Each Orphan Sunday event is led by local Christians stirred by the plight of the orphan. For these advocates, Orphan Sunday is an opportunity to spread their passion in their church and beyond. It’s also a chance to add echo to a nationwide movement. Events are as diverse as their organizers, from prayer gatherings and sermons on God’s heart for the orphan to student-led fundraisers and foster family recruiting.

Alongside these local events, a national concert will be simulcast live from Colorado Springs to college and high school groups nationwide on the Friday of Orphan Sunday weekend. Featuring The Desperation Band and other artists, the event will challenge American youth to a vibrant, Gospel-centered faith that includes real sacrifice for “least of these,” including orphans.

More than 75 national organizations have joined forces in the Christian Alliance for Orphans to promote the 2010 campaign, including household names like Bethany Christian Services, Buckner, Focus on the Family, Show Hope and Family Life.

“Orphan Sunday calls the Church to make the Gospel visible,” said Jedd Medefind, President of the Christian Alliance for Orphans. “When Christians open their hearts and homes in adoption, foster care and global orphan ministry, we mirror the God who did the same for us.”

The website serves as a hub for the campaign, offering event ideas, downloadable materials and ways individuals can partner with orphan-serving ministries to hold local events. The site also contains a map of the country that will highlight local events nationwide as they are scheduled.

“The need of orphans is so vast that no government, no nonprofit can overcome it,” said Jodi Jackson Tucker, national coordinator for the Orphan Sunday campaign. “There’s only one potential source of the love, nurture and belonging that every orphan most needs: that’s the Church.”

There are more than 500,000 children in the foster system in the U.S. today, with nearly 130,000 waiting to be adopted. Globally, an estimated 15 million children have lost both parents. The Orphan Sunday campaign invites Christians to be God’s answer to these needs. As the 2010 Orphan Sunday video puts it, “We set the lonely in families because God set us in His.”

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Clothing is Optional - Formula is Life!!

by Dinah Monahan

In March, my husband Mike and I went to Ethiopia. For Mike, a man who likes to nail down every detail of life, going to Ethiopia just didn’t fit. We knew of the amazing work of YWAM through a childhood friend who was involved with Adoption Ministry of YWAM Ethiopia. We wanted to see the orphanages and the other work there and bring the story home to our small church. But the truth was, when someone asked us “Why are you going to Ethiopia?” a week before we were to leave, we looked at each other and said, “Why ARE we going?” But we did go and it changed our lives forever.

We connected with Joy Casey, the director of YWAM's Adoption Ministry in Ethiopia, who allowed us to tag along as she did her “rounds” of three of YWAM’s four orphanages. Two of the orphanages - one in Nekemte and one in Gimbie - were inland on a road that was a washboard on steroids and potholes that you feared you would not be able to climb out of. While the scenery was beautiful, complete with baboons and a twelve foot python, the trip was twelve jaw-jarring hours.

When we arrived at the orphanage, we of course snatched up the babies. My heart went out to one in particular, a very malnourished two month old little guy named Baby Z. You could count his delicate ribs and his arms were so skinny they would have fit a large ring on them. His huge eyes locked onto mine and my heart was his. He has started life two months early and because of lack of nourishment, was having a hard time catching up.

Before we left, I had asked Joy what they needed. “FORMULA” was her emphatic reply! Looking at our allowed weight limit, we decided to take few clothes and LOTS of formula. Our church filled three large suitcases with 90 cans of formula and baby food. We were worried that the Ethiopian customs would question and even confiscate it. Our fears were heightened when we saw that our suitcases went through x-ray machines. I can’t imagine what all those metal tops and bottoms looked like! But they went through without a sideways glance! I’m sure our church’s prayers back home helped on that one!

Standing in the baby room at the Nekemte orphanage, surrounded with eight small babies, I spied about ten cans of formula. I pointed them out to Mike, saying, “They seem to have a supply.” “No,” he said, “they are all empty but one, and it is only half full.”  I can’t tell you how excited we were to open our suitcase of formula, some of which was high potency for preemies. When we went to the orphanage in Gimbie, the situation was the same. Tezera, the director of the Widows and Orphans Home in Adama, said it very well when she said, “Formula is life for these babies.” Indeed, Baby Z is a testimony to this. I saw a picture of him three months later and I could not recognize him. He was actually chubby!

Dinah holding Baby Z

“What do they give the babies if they don’t have formula?” I asked Joy. “Powdered milk,” she said, “which does not have enough fat or nutrients for them to thrive.” We realized the desperate need for a steady supply of formula for these babies but the cost of shipping it was prohibitive. But, as Joy talked about work teams and couples coming from the states, I realized that they could do what we did… bring it in their suitcases.

Our program, “Clothing is Optional, Formula Is Life” was born. We ask people going over to fill at least one of their suitcases with a 50 lb. limit of formula - more if possible. They really don’t need many clothes as they can be laundered in the hotel for very cheap. As God is the great “dot connector,” He had provided the Crisis Pregnancy Center I direct with a pallet of formula that was quickly expiring. There was no way we could have used it all so this was perfect. (It is good for a year after expiration date.) Since we own a mail order business, we simply send the formula to whoever is leaving for Ethiopia to be packed in their suitcases. Since April, we have sent close to 400 lbs. of formula! We have many more families going. The program is so successful that we quickly ran out of formula!

I started calling around but to no avail. But God is, as usual, way ahead of me. He connected me with a woman named Kristen who has a blog called We Are THAT Family. She has thousands of faithful readers. She put the word out and it has exploded! Other bloggers picked it up and we found ourselves with over 1,000 cans on the way and close to $3,000 in donations to help with shipping costs. Now there is talk of a baby formula company providing many pallets a month. Amazingly, we have just doubled the size of our warehouse! So, as it looks now we have lots of formula. We want to start sending it over in small batches to each of the orphanages on a regular basis. And we will continue to send it with everyone who goes to Ethiopia!

As for the reason we made the trip? Well, it wasn’t the formula. In our eleven days there God made it clear that he wanted us to start a maternity home in Adama  We now have the home, four of the six employees and are poised to open in October!

WHAT AN AWESOME GOD WE SERVE! When you really let go He takes you on a crazy and amazing ride in life that you never dreamed would be possible!

Formula truly is life for these little ones.  Adoption Ministry of YWAM Ethiopia is beginning a partnership with Into The Streets of Ethiopia, so that through the help of Dinah's ministry and Kristen's blog readers, people are stepping forward to provide formula for our babies!  We are incredibly grateful for the generous response of so many!   

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Everybody needs a time to get away.  And we are no exception!

Sunday and Monday of this week, our little staff had the opportunity to spend two days at the cabin of some dear personal friends and close friends of the ministry to pray and strategize.  We also managed to squeeze in time to do a lot of laughing, eating and soaking up the sun and scenery.  We only wish our Ethiopia staff could have joined us!

Here's our retreat invitation:


Monday, July 12, 2010

An update from Shea

Shea Connell, from Tacoma, Washington, is serving Christ at YWAM's Mercy Development in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for the next several months. Mercy Development is an outreach to children living on the streets of the city and includes a home where many of these children have been taken in.  He works and lives with 11 boys, ages 10-18.  He recently had to leave the country in order to obtain a new visa (that's a whole 'nother story!) but God faithfully provided a place to stay in Kenya with a pastor there. 

Well I have been back in Ethiopia for 2 weeks now!  The boys are all finished with school and some will soon start up jobs for the summer or will be taking summer classes.  Seven out of the eleven boys are the top 5 in their classes!  All passed their finals and will be able to move to the next grade in September.

Every Tuesday and Thursday, we have been reading from the book of Matthew. We read a chapter at night and then discuss about the chapter. The other night we talked about repentance and what it means to repent.

Please continue to pray for favor with the boys and that the Lord would continue to give me wisdom.

Also - it looks like Immigration is only giving one month extensions for visas because too many people were working with tourist visas so they stopped giving 3 and 6 month extensions. So it looks like I will have to go in on the 26th of July to apply for the extension and if they only give me one month, I will have to leave the country in late August. So please pray that the Lord would do a miracle and that He would make things clear to me!

Thank you all for your support and prayers!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Help One

We set a goal in May to find sponsors for 20 children in the village of Gutumuma, Ethiopia.  We have found sponsors for eleven already, leaving only nine more to go!  Might your family be the ones to make a life-changing difference for one of these children?

04 Derartu Bedeso
8-year-old Derartu is one of seven children. Her mother is very young and beautiful and her father is dead. They rent a hut for a very small amount. Derartu is unable to attend school because they cannot pay the small tuition. Derartu’s mother sells firewood and also does cooking for others.

07 Husen Gemechu
Husen is 5 years old and is #4 of 6 children who are all living with their mother who was widowed two years ago after the children’s father was killed by an angry man. Husen’s mother has nothing and she and her family are living with her mother-in-law. She brings in a small income by selling firewood.

11 Midaso Abdela
This 8-year-old boy is an only child whose mother died. His father is a guard and earns about $20 a month. He is unable to go to school because of lack of finances. His father’s salary is very small and they live in extreme poverty.

14 Teshita Beriso
This 6-year-old boy came barefoot with his mother. His father is dead and 6 brothers and sisters are living with his mother and 2 others are living with relatives. Teshita’s mother has no resources and tries to provide enough to eat by gathering and selling firewood.

16 Durti Geda
Durti is 5 years old and lives with her mother and father and is #3 of five children. Her father is a missionary in this village and earns about $35 a month, which is not near enough to support a family of seven people. This good man needs help!

17 Masho Feysa
After 6 year old Masho’s father died, her father’s brother became the husband of her mother. Masho is the oldest of 2 children and her mother is pregnant. Her step-father sells firewood to bring in a small amount of money.

18 Sebona Kedir
There are 5 children in this 5-year-old boy’s family and they live with their mother and father. His father tries hard to provide for his family by selling wood he gathers for fires and he sometimes helps others farm their plots of land.

19 Alemitu Shume
4-year-old Alemitu lives with her mother and father. She is #3 of 4 children. Both her mother and father sell firewood to make a living. This is an extremely poor family living on the edge of starvation.

20 Kuftu Abdo
Kuftu, 6-years old, is the youngest of 8 children living with her father and mother. Her father is a missionary in this village but does not earn near enough to provide enough to eat for his family.

For a monthly commitment of only $30 per month,
you will help to provide food and shelter
for one of these children.
If you'd like to join us in helping the families
of this village, please email

Below is a video from Streams of Mercy, an amazing ministry dedicated to changing the lives of orphans around the world.  Wick Nease partners with orphanages on five continents, helping to raise awareness and funding for many ministries - including Adoption Ministry of YWAM Ethiopia!  This video includes footage taken in Uganda and also in the village of Gutumuma, Ethiopia when Wick and his son Michael were there with Joy and Mark in May of this year.

Prayer Of The Children from Michael Nease on Vimeo.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Work To Do

I think we'd all agree that we often take for granted the technology and labor-saving devices that we use every day.  When I look closely at these photos taken in June of the new construction for our Widows and Orphans Home in Adama, I'm reminded of how spoiled I am and even how 'entitled' I feel I am to the things that make life easy. 

The work looks backbreaking without backhoes, jack-hammers or excavating equipment.  But it's the people's faces I stare at.

These are hard workers.  Grateful to have a job. 

Young and old alike.

I wonder if they know who will be living in this compound...

How many children will be rescued from a life without hope.

How many widows will be fed and discipled.

I think most likely they're just thankful to be getting a paycheck so they can feed their families.

Here is a video that Mark took when he was in Ethiopia in May.  What an amazing sight! 

Please pray for the rapid completion of this facility! God has faithfully provided, through the generous giving of our partners in ministry. Now we need to complete, furnish and staff this wonderful place!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Abba Changes Everything

Have you seen the July edition of Christianity Today?  It's centered on adoption and orphan care! Four different articles help sound a clarion call to the Church: God cares passionately for the orphan and His people are called to do so as well.  Here’s a preview of the articles featured in this issue from the Christian Alliance for Orphans blog from Jedd Medefind.

Why Every Christian Is Called to Rescue Orphans

It’s a beautiful thing. For Christians who yearn to see the Church grow impassioned for the Gospel and the orphan, the newly-arrived July edition of Christianity Today is little short of thrilling. The cover declares, Abba Changes Everything: Why every Christian is called to rescue orphans. Inside, the framing introduction to the magazine is headlined, “Adoption is Everywhere. Even God is into it.”

That the leading print voice of evangelicalism in America would choose to make orphan care and adoption the center of its July magazine underscores what many of us already knew: God is stirring His people to again be known as those who “defend the cause of the fatherless” (Is 1:17).

Page 18 begins a tremendous article by Russell Moore, which gave the magazine its cover language, “Abba Changes Everything.” I’ve heard Dr. Moore articulate this message from the podium, via radio and over the dinner table, but I must admit I felt my heart expand against my ribcage as I read this fresh expression. Beautiful and heartbreaking; daunting and inspiring; and profoundly rooted in the ultimate reason for it all: the Father-love of our God revealed through the Gospel.

Page 23 starts the cover story, “Coming Alongside Parents: Churches are getting real about adoption’s challenges—and helping families after the child arrives.” It shares the experience of Summit VI and highlights the robust growth of orphan ministry within churches. Writes author Carla Barnhill, “…[T]he Summit drew more than 1,200 attendees, most of them ministering to orphans through their home churches. Watching those gathered, I knew this was not my parent’s generation.”

Finally, page 52 carries a list of list and descriptions titled “My Top 5 Books on Orphan Care” that I had a chance to provide: Russell Moore’s Adopted for Life, Dr. Karyn Purvis’ The Connected Child; Melissa Fay Greene’s There is No Me Without You; Tom Davis’ Fields of the Fatherless, and Doug Sauder’s The One Factor. (Several others came to mind after I’d submitted that I wish I’d included as well, but five was the limit).

If you can, pick up a copy of CT from the newsstand today. If not, all these articles will come available online over the month ahead, and we’ll post them on the Alliance blog as they do. In the meantime, advocates of orphan care take heart: God continues to build both passion and action in His Church for these children He so deeply loves.
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