As I sit on a plane somewhere over the Atlantic I have a heavy heart for the country of Ethiopia and people that I left behind. The questions I have been asking myself since my first trip are: Why me? Why Africa? Why so far away? Why couldn’t I have fallen in love with a country closer to home or even my own country?
If anyone had told me 3 years ago that I would be called to go on a Mission Trip to Africa, I would have laughed and told them “God knows how scared I am of going out of the country since 9-11, he knows that I am terrified I would end up on a plane bound for some National Monument so he would never do that to me”……… Wrong. Don’t ever say or think that God won’t call you out of your comfort zone, three years later and 2 trips to Africa, here I sit on a plane crying because it was time to leave.
The past 10 days have been nothing short of amazing for me and I still have lots to process. There was good and bad, things that made sense and nonsense but we went with a purpose to love on the people and share the good news of Christ and I believe we did that ten-fold.
We spent time in Shashemene and Korah getting our socks blessed off and then we went to feed the homeless in Addis…. I have always had a heart for the Homeless, I remember my dad telling me that when I was a little girl and we would go to Nashville I would ask so many questions about why they didn’t have a home and I remember him telling me that I would be in tears begging him to give them money or our “take-away” if we had been out to dinner.
I stood in amazement as hundreds of men, women and children, a large part of them blind and crippled filled table after table to get probably their only meal of the day.
It’s bad enough to be homeless but to be blind, crippled and homeless in Ethiopia is beyond anything I can comprehend. As they filed in and I began to serve them something that I am ashamed to say I probably wouldn’t eat, my heart became very heavy, I had to step away and take a minute because I starting to melt down. After I calmed down (with the help of Pastor Duane:) These people had the sweetest faces and biggest smiles and when I was standing among them serving the food and one of the older gentlemen grabbed my hand and said “Thank you! Jesus is so good.” I thought, “this is it, this is why I am here” If one person knows that Jesus is good and Jesus loves them, then all the preparation and hard work was totally worth it. I am honored to have that man grab my hand and Thank me but really I should have been thanking him.
Family and friends told me that they admired me, and told me that I had such courage to go so far away. I don’t have courage, courage is the men I saw that were so crippled they could only walk on their hands and drag their legs behind them, the blind that had to depend on others to help them out, the women in the countryside that carried huge water jugs on their heads back to their families, the men, women and children pilfering thru the trash dump to find food for their families… That is courage. I am nothing, people…I only did what God called me to do and if I live my life from here on with the love and appreciation that the people of Ethiopia showed me, then I will be a much better person because of it.
Below are some of the lyrics to a new Casting Crowns song, it was my “Battle Song” for the week:
Jesus, friend of sinners, the one who’s writing in the sand
Make the righteous turn away and the stones fall from their hands
Help us to remember we are all the least of these
Let the memory of Your mercy bring Your people to their knees
No one knows what we’re for only against when we judge the wounded
What if we put down our signs crossed over the lines and loved like You did
Oh Jesus, friend of sinners
Open our eyes to world at the end of our pointing fingers
Let our hearts be led by mercy
Help us reach with open hearts and open doors
Oh Jesus, friend of sinners, break our hearts for what breaks yours
You love every lost cause; you reach for the outcast
For the leper and the lame; they’re the reason that You came
Lord I was that lost cause and I was the outcast
But you died for sinners just like me, a grateful leper at Your feet