by Joy Casey in Ethiopia, Aug 3rd

Today we visited the village where we have constructed a security wall.

About three weeks ago one of our longtime guards died suddenly leaving behind a large family.  Our country manager and I needed to pay our respects to his family, so on the way to the village we stopped and bought some coffee and sugar to bring to them.

The family lives near to the Christian compound, so after parking we walked to their home.  I have known this family since we started ministry in this village nine years ago.  Several of his children have been students in our kindergarten. There is a large extended family to help take care of the children, but all of them are all very, very poor.  A year ago money was donated to build the guard’s family a spacious house, so at least they have an adequate place to continue life, albeit with an altered normal.

Though the day started with a somber note, it proceeded at an upbeat pace.  The church planted in this village is the first Christian presence in an all-M*slim area.  The church recently was blessed with a new pastor, although he is not new at pastoring.  Pastor Danny is a conscientious shepherd nurturing his flock well.  I sat with a contended smile on my face hearing about Bible studies popping up, prayer groups formed and fallen away Christians returning to the fold under his capable leadership.  There is a systematic plan for evangelism at an unreached village.

Then our attention turned to the kindergarten, now on summer break.  Planning is already taking place for the new school year.  The staff are beginning the selection process for 20 new KG1 students.  The children are selected from the most poor in the village… those who are severely disadvantaged.  Not only does our school give them a solid educational foundation, it also ensures one nutritious meal a day accompanied with a multi-vitamin.

In this village, food provided on a regular basis is a huge gift.  We see children start school with dull eyes and hair, skin problems, runny noses and low energy.

A short time later the children are laughing, playing and learning with enthusiasm like kindergarteners anywhere else.

It is a joy to sow into their bodies, minds and spirits and see them transform over the three years we have them. (Kindergarten in Ethiopia is KG1 (preschool), KG2 (pre-kindergarten) and KG3 (kindergarten).)

I rejoiced seeing the security wall being completed!  That was a huge undertaking.  We also talked about the proposed training center we hope to build on this compound.  It was fun plotting and planning for future ministry and seeing in my mind the end product:  men and women equipped to disciple new converts, pastor churches, reach children and youth and teach the Bible.  We envision new converts coming and learning more about faith in Jesus and accepting baptism.  This is what the training center is all about.

I sat with our amazing, amazing staff under a big tree by the school listening to their ideas and strategies for evangelism, the role of the church in village life and kindergarten education.   Waves of thankfulness welled up in my heart to God for asking us to partner with Him in Kingdom work.  At that moment in time I did not want to be anywhere else on earth.  I experienced incredible peace knowing I was exactly where God wanted me to be.