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We came to the top of a hill and peered down. At the bottom we saw a structure comprised of corrugated metal sheeting nailed together. It was the home our team was visiting for the afternoon. Although the hill wasn’t very steep, the journey down was slow and precise. Being the rainy season, it was covered in some of the thickest mud you can imagine. With some of us wearing rain boots—and others wishing we had—we made our way toward the home. Upon reaching the bottom, we began the fruitless effort of trying to scrape the mud from our shoes. It just would not come off. Crouching to about half his size to fit through the doorway, John [Parker] was the first inside. He quickly poked his head back out and told us not to worry about removing the mud before entering. I thought this was a bit odd, but we soon abandoned our efforts and followed him inside.

I quickly realized why the mud on our shoes was not an issue. The majority of the floor had been arranged with large rocks for people to step on as they moved about the home. These kept our feet largely out of the mud and water spread throughout. We followed the rocks into the next room, where a woman, the owner of the home, welcomed us. We accepted her invitation to sit down, which led to us sitting on every flat surface in sight, including along the edge of her bed.

Through translation, we began a conversation with her as she shared a bit of her story. I’m not normally one to focus heavily on the hardships in a story, but it’s simply unavoidable here. Without covering all the details, we learned about the husband, who had left her and her children. We learned of the children not currently living at home during the rainy season because of the conditions it left her house in. We cried as she thanked us for visiting her—something her own family refused to do because of the danger involved. It was quite possibly the most heartbreaking story I’d ever heard.

And yet, somehow, there was hope. In the middle of all the darkness of her story, I knew this was exactly why we had come. I knew this was why Summit had begun working with Children’s HopeChest. Because of them, this woman and her children (and others like them) are beginning to receive care they so desperately need. As a recent member of their empowerment program, she has begun receiving support to help her into a better way of life for her and her children—things like job training, clothing, food, medical attention, and spiritual care to supplement her own work to support her family. Through support from child sponsorships, our Summit community, local Ethiopian partners, and God’s blessing as He leads, this work will not only be possible but successful. We’ve already begun seeing glimmers of a better future…

God has opened an amazing door for partnership through Children’s HopeChest in Ethiopia. I’m excited our church gets to participate with them in the years to come. Perhaps it won’t be long before we hear stories of the lives changed as a result.

 

At this weekend’s special Join Africa services, you’ll have the opportunity to talk with staff from Children’s HopeChest and find out more about child sponsorship and how you can make a difference. You won’t want to miss it!

Learn more about Children’s HopeChest at hopechest.org.