by Joy Casey in Ethiopia
written on 5-30-11

Jeff Burns and I just returned from a week’s adventure to the three Widows and Orphans Homes in the western part of Ethiopia.  It is always a joy to go to these orphanages and see the progress of the children, meet the new arrivals, and see the nannies and other staff that have become so dear to me.  The wet season has begun here in Ethiopia and we experienced some wonderful thunder and lightning storms with torrential rains, causing the streets to become small rivers of red mud.  One morning in Dembidollo we couldn’t even step out of the hotel and go anywhere until the sun came out for a couple of hours and dried up the streets!

Three years ago God clearly called Adoption Ministry of YWAM to reach out to poor women and children in Ethiopia.  I didn’t know quite what that meant and certainly did not foresee what it would entail, but I and our Board of Directors said “yes” to His call and thus began a ministry that has gone far beyond anything I could ever have imagined.  Am I up to this calling?  Absolutely not!  But God will use anyone who says “yes” and He can use even me and the incredible staff He has brought around me to do this work.

Adoption Ministry is launching a new work with the poorest people in Ethiopian society and we are calling this new thrust Adoption Ministry 1:27 (after James 1:27).  We are partnering with churches in Ethiopia who are already a) adopting children within the church, b) raising up guardian families (like foster families) within the church, and c) helping at-risk families to stay intact by providing for some of their physical needs.  These churches are doing a marvelous work but desperately need financial support to meet the identified needs in their community.

Let me tell you about Dembidollo.  Dembidollo is close to the Sudan border and is very far from the urban capital of Ethiopia.  It is a 17 hour car ride over hideous roads.  The church of Jesus Christ is alive and well in this town of 50,000, and over the past two years the leaders of three large churches have identified 1,000 full or half orphans in their town that they want to see put in strong Christian families either through adoption or guardian families.  So… taking a deep breath, I interviewed 60 desperate families that we want to find sponsors for.  Their stories challenge me and break my heart.  I met some men and women who have given up their own dreams and ambitions to raise the children of their children or the children of their sister, brother or neighbor.

Our sponsorship program will help the family of a little 12-year-old girl named Gadise.  Her mother and father are divorced and her mother works as a laborer on a farm far away.  Gadise is left to care for herself, her 7-year-old brother and 6-year-old sister.  Her mother sends them 10 birr (about 80 cents) to live on for one week.  Even in Ethiopia this is impossible and the family is on the brink of starvation and disruption.

Then I met a grandmother who stole my heart!  This wonderful lady has certainly encountered tragedy in her life, experiencing the deaths of three of her children to AIDS.  She is now adopting 9-year-old Obsa and 8-year-old Latu along with three other grandchildren!  Her face radiates her love of Jesus and she is meeting the challenge of her family situation with confidence that her Lord will help her.  I want Adopton Ministry 1:27 to be a part of her solution!

How can we be so blessed to have God ask us to help the poor?  What an opportunity!  What a privilege!  If you want to learn more about our Adopt-A-Family project or if you would like your church or ministry group to become involved in Adoption Ministry 1:27, please contact us!

Jeff Butler – Adoption Ministry 1:27