This summer, I found myself in an impromptu meeting with a woman named Ayneabeba. (Don’t worry, we call her Ayni for short. Think “I-knee.”) She is the director of the ministry site Summit partners with through Children’s HopeChest. This ministry site, or CarePoint, is located in the urban capital of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, home to 3.4 million people. While sitting in her second-floor office, we could hear the sound of the 120 children outside playing in the small courtyard below.
As she was sharing her hopes and dreams for her ministry, she said something that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about. She said, “A mother providing care for her children—that’s God’s plan. Us providing that care for them—that’s our plan.” To me, this was a great summary of what we’re striving to do by partnering with organizations like Children’s HopeChest. God’s design is for a family to be the primary source of love and care for their children and for each other. But because we live in a fallen world, we often find ourselves at the mercy of uncontrollable circumstances. And sometimes these circumstances render us incapable of fully living into that potential God has designed in us.
Enter Children’s HopeChest. Enter Ayni and her team. They are working to provide restoration to the relational brokenness often found in families of orphaned and vulnerable children. They are working to rehabilitate mothers and family members to better provide for their children while the CarePoint provides supplementary care in the meantime. Ultimately, they are working alongside these families to empower them to live into “God’s plan” for their lives.
This is also where the story of my friend, Courtnee, comes into play. For a while, she had been feeling God tugging on her heart to go to Ethiopia. It was during this time that she took Summit’s 3-week Join Africa Class and began to explore more deeply what it means to invest in this type of work.
One of her biggest takeaways was learning that poverty is actually rooted in broken relationships rather than a lack of material possessions—that the lack of material possessions is actually a symptom of this underlying problem. And the truth is that we all face a brokenness of relationship and therefore each face different types of poverty. The class helped her to unpack this idea and allow her to move forward with a greater mindset focused on building relationships with those we were going to serve alongside.
Beyond that, the class also gave her the opportunity to keep Africa at the forefront of her mind as she was praying and considering whether or not God was nudging her to go. And on a personal note, I’m so glad she did. I had the opportunity to see her come alive in all the ways God has gifted her as she led a children’s camp, ate new foods, communicated in a new language, told stories, and ultimately built brand new relationships with people she now calls friends.
If going to Africa is something you are already sure you want to do, or if it’s just something that continues to sit quietly but persistently in the recesses of your mind, I would encourage you to sign up for this class. In addition to exploring the roots of poverty as mentioned above, we will spend time learning about mission, justice, cross-cultural work, and short-term mission teams. You will gain a better understanding of God’s work in the world and more about how you might join Him in it. I hope to see you there.
Nathan Boyett is the Global Partnerships Coordinator for Summit Church. If you would like to pick his brain for more information about ways you can partner with what God is doing in this world, he'd love to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org.