Toward the end of my husband Jeff’s trip to Ethiopia, he and Mark Wolbert (Missions Director for Adoption Minsitry) went to visit the leper colony and the neighborhood by the dump in Addis Ababa. Almost all of this huge city is marked with extreme poverty but this area is the most destitute. Mark has served there in the past and has become friends with a pastor who ministers to the people who live on the ragged edges of society.

These are difficult photos. This isn’t the beautiful African savannah. It’s not even the happy-ending result of a lot of relief work. This is reality for hundreds of thousands of people in one corner of the world. And here, some faithful Christians are living and ministering to the very ‘least of these’ in Jesus’ name.

The church at the leper colony.

The sanctuary with the burlap floor.
Mark Wolbert with a man who has lost both legs to leprosy.

This woman has AIDS and lives day to day in a mud-walled hovel.
Jeff asked if he could take her picture.

I know how hard it is to walk around with a camera in places like this. But it’s so important to bring these images home.

Another resident of this neighborhood cooking her family’s meal.
One of many ‘homes’ with trash from the nearby dump that is burned for cooking fuel.

A women let them peek inside her home.
Many people live here.
This mother and her daughter know the pastor and also showed them inside their home.
Just look at that beaming face!
Jeff was captivated by this beautiful girl in her red frilly dress.

There were so many beautiful faces in that dark place…

It is so good for me, during this season of Thanksgiving and Christ’s birth, to remember these precious people who God loves and to ask what He wants me to do in response.

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.                
                                                  Isaiah 61:1-3