by Joy Casey

A missions team from Virginia Beach planned on doing a lot of repair work in the Widows and Orphans Home in Gimbie located about twelve hours west of Addis Ababa.  There was much to do there and the team was ready with hammer, drill and paint to bring the facility up to snuff.  Real estate in Gimbie is at a premium.  Most places don’t have good running water and if you are lucky enough to have electricity to your building, it is one small line, enough to light one light bulb in the ceiling.  In this orphanage, the electrical system would not support a refrigerator or water cooler and we learned the hard way not to plug in a computer.
Unexpectedly, a compound more centrally located in the town and closer to the doctor’s office and hospital became available for rent.  It was spacious and had better electricity and the plumbing worked!  Halleluiah!  Plans for the old facility were put on hold and the team turned their attention to this new place. 

When they walked in, they gasped with shock.  This recently vacated clinic was gruesome.  There was blood spattered on the walls and pooled on the floor.  Buckets were left standing with tissue and blood still in them and death permeated the atmosphere.  As the team wandered in shock from room to room, they knew that something terrible had been going on in these rooms.  Their worst fears were confirmed.  This space recently had been an abortion clinic where hundreds of lives were forcefully taken and carelessly discarded. 

Several of the women started weeping as the reality of the violent deaths settled like a heavy weight on their spirits.  They could no longer remain within those walls and regrouped outside to pray and discuss what they should do.  With the large quantities of blood, no gloves and needles lying around, it was dangerous for them to attempt clean-up.  They left shaking their heads and wondering if renting this facility was a good decision or not.

A month later, after hours of back-breaking cleaning and painting and a new floor installed, the rooms were spic and span and ready for occupancy.  It would be so nice to have plumbing that worked and reliable electricity!  But before we would allow one baby or nanny to step foot in this former clinic, three pastors came and prayed over every inch of this new space and dedicated the former tomb to be a beacon of hope and life for children. 

The next day, twelve little people, many of them saved from abortion themselves, moved into their new home.  Every morning and every evening at shift change, the nannies gather and sing praises to their Lord and pray for the children in their care. 

Our hearts break for the young women who face an unplanned pregnancy in Ethiopia.  The social pressure is immense and comes with severe consequences in most cases.  Their options are limited.  If a single gal has a child and is not married, she most likely will never marry because a man will not consider her or her child worthy.  If a woman should find someone to marry, most times her new husband will not accept her child and she has to make other arrangements for her offspring.  It is no surprise that abortion seems like the only way out to many women.

Living Hope Maternity Home and pregnancy counseling center was opened last year in Adama, Ethiopia.  It is the only one of its kind in Ethiopia and offers security and shelter to pregnant unmarried women.  Here the women are loved and discipled, given healthy food and a safe delivery.  They can come back with their babies and live until they have earned enough to live on their own and support their little one.  Jewelry-making and sewing are taught and the items are sold here in America.  60% of the proceeds go into a savings account for the women and 40% goes toward the support of Living Hope – Ethiopia.  Hats off to the visionaries who have pioneered this good work in Ethiopia!  We cannot just say abortion is wrong; we must provide alternatives for these desperate women and give them and their babies a hope and a future.

The Widows and Orphans Home in Gimbie is a visual of how God can take death and turn it into life.  Living Hope is another example of turning a despairing circumstance for a young woman into a life full of His love, forgiveness and courage to face the future.