One Year in Ethiopia

One year ago this month we landed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  After a long journey from California, we landed with 18 bins, 3 kids (glad we didn’t lose any), and the feeling like we just got pushed into the deep end of the pool without our floaties.  I can remember the first few words out of Clayton, who was 3 at the time, was, “Look at all the trash everywhere, why don’t they just pick it up”.  The look on the kids faces were priceless, but all the craziness aside, we had peace that this was now home.

In the first few weeks upon arriving, we found a home, a car, cell phone service, and somehow navigated government offices to get driving licenses and other necessary documents in order to live here.  Thinking back on the early days, sleeping on foam pads in our unfurnished house, it’s crazy to realize how much has happened.  This past year has been the biggest adventure in our life and it’s also been the most challenging.

As we look back at this past year and think about the year ahead, that feeling of being in the deep water isn’t as scary.  We have realized that the deep water is where God intends us to live, and with Him and only Him is what keeps us afloat.  It would be dishonest to say that there weren’t times when we tried to bring out the floaties to keep us going, but at the end of the day this past year has been as much about refining our own relationship with God as it has been about impacting the people in Ethiopia.  After a year into our time here, we certainly feel much more at home and enjoying the adventure of Ethiopia.

Donate Your Day

Donate Your Day - Leap Year

Make your days count.

A few weeks back God gave us Psalm 90:12 “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom”.  I, Ian, woke up in the middle of the night a few weeks back with over 20,000 children on my heart.  Currently it’s estimated that over 20,000 children die per day around the world from preventable disease, malnourishment, and generally things that could be prevented.  When multiplied out over a month, it’s over 500,000 children…so in the context of Psalm 90:12, we feel a greater burden to make each day count.  How will you make your day today count?

A few quick statistics on Ethiopia: SFL VIDEO*

• Home to 90 million people (2nd most populated nation in Africa)

• 5 million orphans

• 100,000 street kids in Addis Ababa

• 1 in 10 children die before 1st birthday

• 1 in 6 children die before 5th birthday

Powerful Prayer

Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. (James 5:17 ESV)

I’m finding this verse very encouraging and challanging to me, to think that here in James we are told that Elijah was a man just like me…what!?  A man who prayed for the beginning and end of a drought, raise the dead, and called down fire and water from heaven, yep a man just like me…  Elijah was a mighty man, but the truth is that he was just a man.  His belief and relationship with God was what took this ordinary man and made his extraordinary.

Elijah wasn’t afraid to speak boldly and in 1 kings 18:21 we see his boldnesss, “Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.”  But the people said nothing. (1 Kings 18:21 NIV).  Elijah challenged the people to act and make a stand.  It’s a challenge that is in front of us today, one that requires much but there is great joy in taking a bold stand for God.

I’m intrigued by this man, I’m inspired to be a man like him and allow God to do what He does.  It’s amazing that God desires to use us to bring His glory on earth, it’s also where our greatest joy will be found.

Are there Heroes Today?

lil HerosI was recently sitting down with my five year old watching Iron Man when he stopped and asked me a great question. “Daddy, are there heros in real life today?” Many of our kids growing up today see guys like Iron Man, Superman, and Batman as cartoon superheroes but what is a real hero made of and where do we find them today? As a father, what a great opportunity to share what a “real” hero is today, and it’s certainly not just some guy dressed up in a costume behind a mask beating up bad guys. I would suggest that there are modern day heroes all around us today, a hero is made because they are moved, not in there head but their heart. They are willing to spend themselves on behalf of others, no matter the cost. God has designed us to become true modern-day heros. Men and woman, boys and girls, who are devoted, courageous, fearless, immovable, and marked with uncompromising integrity in a world that often is defined by the opposite.

So are there heroes in real life today…yes! As a father, I feel compelled to raise up my boys as a modern day hero. Consider “Hero Training” now in session!

Blind But Now I See

In my most recent trip with Ethiopia, I spent time in a smaller community outside of the Capital of Ethiopia called Mekele. The region was home to many of the people who would fall within the lower end of the poverty scale. I had a chance to meet a few blind young women who loved Jesus and had hopes and dreams much like many young woman who graduated high school and want to have opportunity. Unfortunately, many of these young women were subject to such extreme poverty, abuse, and many are not only physically abused but sexually abused. We were invited over to their home but before getting there we would have a walk of about 15 minutes to walk to get there. The roads were hard enough for a capable person to walk but the challenges of walking them blind were crazy.

When we arrived we witnessed what living off $.50/day looks like in Ethiopia, a small 4X8 shack shared between all three girls, a place where they would cook, eat, sleep, etc. I was speechless in this moment, everything inside me wanted to FIX this situation. I didn’t want to leave until I was able to change the situation, and frankly this is what burns inside me right now, this just isn’t right, it’s not fair, but at the same time how easy it can be to go home and sleep just fine tonight…why is that?

This issue is known as DEPRAVED INDIFFERENCE.

Depraved indifference is a term actually used in legal textbooks, and the term a legal term for an action that demonstrates a “callous disregard for human life”. If you are in a courtroom on charges of “Depraved Indifference” it could constitute for second-degree murder…not light conversation for a Sunday morning.

An example of Depraved Indifference would be for example imagine yourself sitting by a lake, then along comes someone who jumps in the lake and can’t swim, you sit there and watch that person without any regard for their life or saving their life. This is known as Depraved Indifference.

When we first started to look into international adoption, I came across this clip on Depraved Indifference. This was something that influenced us greatly as it paints a strong and clear message of our call as believers.

Watch the clip (DEPRAVED INDIFFERENCE LINK HERE)

ARE WE WILLING CHURCH?!
Coming home each time I have been to Ethiopia this year has been stretching my faith and comfort level.

While in Ethiopia I kept asking myself a few questions:

Are we WILLING to hear the Word even if it convicts us?
Are we WILLING to obey the Word even if it costs us?

James 1:22 22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.
James 2:14-17 14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

I once was able to live in a world where I would see great injustice happening, but then go back to “business as usual”. Today, I am no longer able to sit around and watch, but am now compelled to put faith into action. I guess you could say, I once was blind but now I can see.