Many of you may have heard of the Korah dump in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. If you haven't, please watch this video on YouTube that shows a glimpse of life in this small village in Addis. It is a short documentary of the people who live in and around the dump.
In 2008, a family named the Shannons adopted their youngest little girl from Ethiopia. They felt God's call to come to Ethiopia and begin a church a short time after returning home. They were obedient to God and moved their family of 6 to Addis Ababa. Their hearts began to specifically ache for the poor of Addis. God put it in their hearts to minister to Korah, the region of Addis shown in the video above. What they realized through their adoption of their daughter is that adoption is not a solution to the problem of poverty and orphaned children. It is necessary and good that God puts children into families that can take care of them; however, there must be a way to keep children with their birth mothers, and help them become healthy productive adults.
They had an idea to reach out to moms barely making ends meet, and the Embracing Hope Ethiopia Day Care was born. Mothers from Korah and surrounding areas in Addis (mostly single mothers) bring their children to a free day care with high protein meals, basic education, and medical care. Moms then can work at a regular job in the city and pick their children up after work. The Shannons and their staff empower the moms to make a living that will meet the needs of their family whether it is through their daily job, or creating their own business. Mothers sew traditional clothing, make baskets, and other crafts to sell to raise money for the Day Care. When mothers would usually be paid 2.5 birr for sewing a day, the Day Care will pay them more, and then sell the items in the U.S. to raise awareness and support. Each child at the Day Care is sponsored through a sponsorship program, and this provides them with high protein meals (like the peanut butter on bread that we saw them eating for breakfast this morning), healthcare and hygiene education, business classes for the moms, and other great resources.
Four families staying here with us this week woke up at 6:00 am to get ready for our trip to the Day Care. We arrived at about 7:30 or shortly after, and we were greeted by the Shannons and their children and a team from South Africa with Global Challenge Expeditions. The team has traveled through about 8 countries in Africa so far working with children, the poor, and interceding on behalf of the country. They are leaving Ethiopia in a couple of weeks to go to Kenya, then Tanzania, Mozambique, then back to South Africa. They are pouring out their lives, as the Shannons are to see the truth of the Gospel of Jesus fleshed out. They are demonstrating what it really means to love God by loving their "brothers".
It occured to me when I was at the Day Care this morning that had something like this existed for Zane's mother, he might still be with her. It's hard to say how I feel about that. I love Zane and want him to come home to us so badly. He's our firstborn son, our pride, and our joy. But, I'm sad for his birthmother sometimes. Life is complicated, and only God knows what's best. In a perfect world, every child would be nurtured by his birthmother, and live a long, healthy, happy life with his birth family. There would be no poverty, illness, pain, abuse, addiction, and vices that leave children orphaned and alone. Maybe that is why God said, "I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you..." and "I will never leave you or foresake you..." and "How can a mother forget the baby at her breast? Though she may forget, I will never forget you. I will never leave you."
I guess in some way, God shows us who He is through our pain. If we never had difficulty, would we need Him? Would we know Him? Would we see His glory revealed to us?
Adoption is a bittersweet concept, like many things in our lives. Through someone's pain, another finds joy. We don't find joy in Zane's birthmother's pain, but we find joy in the hope of a child. Zane's name means, "God is Gracious." Grace is the "free and unmerited favor of God, His goodwill toward sinners, His kindness." His birthmother gave him a name that means "The New One". We believe that because of God's kindness and love toward Zane, our son has been given a new beginning. This is the concept of redemption. God's unmerited favor on us, and his ability to make all things new, has given us the opportunity to receive forgiveness, love, and power through His Holy Spirit. We pray that one day Zane will choose to bind himself to the God who has redeemed him in a physical and spiritual sense. Only then will Zane know the ultimate adoption - the adoption God has offered for those of us who are willing to be grafted into His family.
I held Zane as he fell asleep in my arms today at naptime. He was warm despite the chilly rain outside, well-fed with barley and rice cereal, his face was peaceful as he stared into my eyes. His body released as he floated into a deep sleep, and I thought, "this is the sweetest boy, and I am the luckiest Mama in the world." Somehow, someway "God works together all things for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose."
"'Though the mountains be shaken, and the hills be removed, His unfailing love for us will never be shaken, nor his covenant of peace be removed,' says the Lord who has compassion on you." Isaiah 54:10
***Please visit http://www.embracinghopeethiopia.com/our-vision/ to get more information about the Day Care in Korah and how you can sponsor a child!