by Angie Allen
Prayer is the center of an ongoing relationship that is being cultivated between the kids and youth at Everett First Covenant Church and the kids and youth at Yakibru Megelet Betekristyan Church in Kore, Ethiopia. This is how it happened:
Four years ago, when I passed out laminated photos of the kids in our Everett, Washington church to the kids at the church in Kore, I didn’t know what God had in store. I told the Ethiopian kids who took the photos eagerly in hand, “This child from my church in America is going to pray for you”. What I didn’t expect was the response from many, “I will pray for them too!” It is this response which has spurred on a friendship between our two faith communities.
When we are there, we spend time getting to know our Prayer Friends; attending their church, visiting their homes and playing in their soccer fields. When we visit Kore, as much as we can, we do life together.
Each summer, in preparation for our time in Ethiopia, we gather our kids and youth for a special day at the park for making our homemade gifts, writing our letters, making our cards and praying for our Ethiopian Prayer Friends. But we are not the only givers in this relationship. When in Ethiopia, we create the same special day with our Prayer Friends so that they can make their gifts, write their letters, and pray for their American Prayer Friend.
The first year, the kids in the U.S. created tie-dye t-shirts for their Ethiopian Prayer Friend. When the team delivered them, the kids in Ethiopia also made tie-dye t-shirts for their U.S. Prayer Friend.
The next year the Prayer Friends decorated notebooks for each other and the year after that, which is this year, we made friendship bracelets. We always keep the gifts simple and homemade so that the focus is on friendship with each other and prayer to Jesus.
This reciprocal relationship speaks value to each child, charging them with the important task of praying and caring for a friend from another culture. We have noticed that children on both sides of the world are lifted and encouraged through this mutual sharing.
Four years ago, we exchanged photos and a promise to pray for one another. Today we have evidence of friendship and love through letters, handmade gifts and a stack of yearly photos. We believe that as we share the love and hope of Jesus through this relationship, we are answering God’s call to love our neighbor as ourselves.