Ethiopia, Day 1 – May 2012

23 May
Onesimus. A name used in the Bible to describe a man that was once useless but was made useful through the work of God in his life (Philemon 11). In our first day here in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, our team of seven was blessed to hear Pastor Nega share the heart that God has given him in starting the Onesimus Children Development Association (OCDA) in Addis, a ministry which the Lord has led the James Initiative to partner with and support.Nega’s heart behind Onesimus is to work with street children with the goal of providing first and foremost for their spiritual need of having a relationship with Jesus Christ. The foundation technically works with children ages 5-16, but as Pastor Nega said, “spiritual ministry and evangelism are for all ages.” Children are living on the streets as a result of circumstances such as their families’ low income, the divorce of their parents, and/or the death of their parents, leaving them to seem very “useless” not only to their families but to the community. He told us that even local churches seem to look at them with disdain.Even within the thirty minute presentation that he gave us about Onesimus, it was obvious 
how broken his heart is for street children. The name Onesimus was aptly chosen by Pastor Nega because of the desire that God has given him to see children that are “useless” to the world around them, and teach them and their families that they are extremely “useful” – for the future of Ethiopia and to the Lord and Savior of the universe. OCDA is seeking after street children, with the compassion of a shepherd tending after its flock, and pouring the gospel over them. Within OCDA, the children are taught math, English, Amharic, and art. They also get to play games, learn proper sanitation like brushing their teeth, and receive overflowing love and counseling from the Onesimus staff. OCDA focuses not only on sharing the gospel with the children, but making sure that they are truly being discipled. It was amazing to hear the testimonies that Pastor Nega shared with us about the children that they never gave up on, even when they would come into the Onesimus program and return the streets over and over again.

I know that my explanation could never give this organization that God has planted in Ethiopia any justice whatsoever, but I wanted to give a glimpse of how the Lord is truly moving in Addis. During our team reflection and prayer time after dinner, the weightiness of the gospel implications of today were tangible. We are all like street children. We choose destruction and sin over a holy and perfect Savior. But God called us to Himself, waking us up from the dead, and pulling us out of the rotting pit of stuff that we were clinging to. He took us from being “useless”, and turned our hearts towards Him, leading us to repentance and trust in His saving power. He made us new creations and “useful” in His sight. How beautiful! The testimonies of the children that have gone through and are currently going through OCDA is a breathtaking testament to the fact that the gospel is the power of God to save every single person, regardless of their circumstances.

Please be praying that God would provide a new house for OCDA’s Halfway Home for Boys and Forsaken Children’s ministry office. They have been told by the renters of their current home, which holds about 11 boys, that they will need to move out almost immediately so it can be used for other purposes.

More information can be found at: which also has continuous updates as to what God is doing there.


Written by SD


One response to “Ethiopia, Day 1 – May 2012

  1. Penny Smith

    May 25, 2012 at 2:31 pm

    Our God is an AWESOME God! I’ve had the honor to work with Nega and his staff at Onesimus. They are God loving, God guided, and God blessed. I pray for them and their continued success. Continue the good work, Nega, and God bless Onesimus, The James Initiative, and UBC Missions. Thank-you for a wonderful post.


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