For the past three days we have helped the staff at Onesimus run a medical clinic for the orphans and street children they reach. This has been both a joy and a challenge. It has been so neat to work alongside the staff here to help them develop this portion of their outreach. Among the poor here in Addis, the common illnesses that these children suffer are ones that American children rarely encounter. Most of their illness stems from malnutrition and unsanitary living conditions. Being surrounded by such extreme poverty has a way of making a situation feel hopeless. In spending time with these people, it is evident that they are clearly not hopeless. Their joy in even the most terrible of circumstances puts us as Americans to shame. Their hope is only in the Lord. He is their source of strength, joy and hope. While working in the clinic pharmacy this week, I have struggled with feelings of hopelessness for these children. I want so badly for the conditions that affect their health to be improved. It seems as though a weeks’ worth of multivitamins will not fix this. God has been so gracious to teach me through this.
Although I have feelings of hopelessness for these kiddos, I have been blessed this week in spending time with them to see that they are not without hope. I know this to be true in the Word, but I have seen it firsthand in the lives of these people. I was encouraged last night by the passage in Matthew 25: 42-45 where Jesus says, “For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me. They also will answer, “Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?” He will reply, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.” Although multivitamins for seven days seems insignificant to me, it is not, to these kids who do not even have nutritious meals to eat. This was comforting to me, but I was also reminded of something greater. I do not have to be in Ethiopia to serve the least of these. It is easy to give everything you’ve got when removed from your daily routine and given the task to serve others. How often though do I look outside myself in my everyday life to serve others in Jesus name? I am so often self-focused, only thinking of my agenda. May I return home from this trip with eyes to see the needs of those around me in Fayetteville. May I desire to serve others at home in my daily routine with the same heart that I have desired to bless the people at Onesimus here in Ethiopia.
Written by Cari Ward