As we have experienced Ethiopia, it has become quite evident that there exists a wide separation between those that have and those that do not. Onesimus ministers to many children who have little and this became even more evident to us today.
One of the young ladies that Onesimus ministers to is named Sarah. She has been at the mission center for each of the last two days and often assists the staff with odd jobs. As I was looking for supplies today, I noticed a hillside that contains a city made of sheets of tin and I realized I was observing one of the poorest areas of Addis Ababa. When I got back to the mission center, I asked the rest of the team to walk back down the road at lunch so they could observe the needs that existed. Our translator then told us that Sarah lived close to there and she wanted to take us to her home. After lunch we decided to go with her and she led us down the road and then we walked up a few steps and then a dirt path. As we approached the top of the hill, we were met with a 4 ft. by 8 ft. structure made up of a few cross poles and a few tarps for walls. Sarah’s mother was present and her family was there also. We soon realized that her parents and her three siblings lived in this room as well. They wanted us all to enter their home and sit down and talk. So we squeezed 10 people into the small structure and you could sense the pride that Sarah had over her family and their surroundings. From an American view, we would think that they had none of the basic necessities of life. No running water, no electricity, no appliances or furniture or even a bed to lay on, but yet there was a joy present. We also experienced an immense level of hospitality as Sarah removed the scarf from her head to place over a sack of coals in the room so that I would have something to sit on. I can’t imagine a 10 year old American being concerned about others in a similar surrounding.
I am certain that God was speaking to our team through this and that Satan didn’t want any of it to happen. While we were visiting, a man came to the doorway and started yelling at the interpreter and the family. It was evident that he was very much influenced by a spirit from a bottle and his conversation was such that it caused concern amongst the team and the family. Sarah’s mother tried to calm the gentleman and our interpreter constantly remained calm through the process. After a few concerning moments, we were able to separate the man out of the doorway and we decided it was best if we began the short walk back to the center. As we left, Sarah held my hand tightly and was leading us back. The man also was following us and began to speak loudly again. It was with great joy that I was able to share with him about our purpose for being there and how our every desire was to accomplish God’s will and hopefully help children like Sarah. I also shared with him that God loved him as well. It was awesome to see how the mention of God’s name quieted him and calmed him. The power of God is amazing.
Upon mentally reviewing these events, I can’t help but wonder where our priorities are in life. Is my joy in my possessions? Is it in the comforts of life? Is it my accomplishments that I have pride in?
All of this brings me to the conclusion that it should be fulfilling God’s purpose that brings me the greatest joy. It has certainly been an awakening experience to be this close to someone with such a great need. I have to ask how I am serving others on a daily basis or am I too focused on what I want. On a side note, we were told that for a family of 6 in these conditions, their basic food needs would be met with around $25 per month. How often do we act so self-absorbed and waste so much more than this. There are many opportunities to help and I pray that I am more aware of the needs around me than ever before.
What am I willing to give up to help others?
Written by Jimmy Burns