Friday, December 24, 2010

A beautiful offering.....

On Sunday, I received the sweetest gift. The best part about it was that it wasn't for me. It was for the orphans in Zeway. A sweet friend approached me at church today and handed me a Christmas bag. She went on to tell me that her boys, Rocky & Jude (ages 3 & 5) had been saving their tithe all year for the orphans in Zeway. She asked if I would make sure it got to them. What a beautiful offering. Bless their sweet little hearts. You bet I'll make sure it gets to them. My heart felt so full of joy that these sweet boys already had a heart for children they didn't even know.

As I was driving home, I was reminded of Mark 12:42...the widow who gave her coins which equaled just a few cents. No, these boys aren't widows and as you can see, there is more than a few cents.....BUT....they gave what they had. You know, there was a whole lot of gumball or hotwheel money in that Christmas bag.

The Tanner boys blessed my heart today. Thank you Rocky & Jude. I know the orphans in Zeway are thankful too. If God allows me to return to Zeway, I think I would like to personally hand this bag....just the way it the director of Food for the Hungry in Zeway. I think his heart would be touched. Just as mine was.

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Hope in Ethiopia partnership will be making ornaments this year that will feature a picture of an orphan and their beautiful artwork. When you purchase an ornament, you will be feeding a child for one month.
To purchase an ornament, simply click on the picture and it will take you to the website where you can make a purchase.

Thank you for your continued support of our Hope in Ethiopia partnership.

"Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me....." Mark 9:37

Click on the picture to purchase an ornament.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Meet Denachew

I'd like to introduce you to Denachew. He is a sweet boy we had the privelege of visiting while we were in Zeway. Our team first met him when we visited his home and we painted his house. He was so eager to help and offered to carry our paint cans as we moved around the room painting the 4 walls that comprised his home. Denachew lives with his older sister Mesaye and they are both part of the Child Head of Household program through Grace and Food for the Hungry.

We were so blessed when we found out Denachew and his sister Mesaye would be at our CHH art day. During our visit, Denachew touched our hearts in a way we weren't prepared for. Several of the children drew individual pictures but Denachew had drawn several pictures in a series. Denachew was able to share with us he had drawn out Jesus betrayal, crucifixion and his resurrection! He told us that his neighbor had been reading him the bible and that he was learning about Jesus because of her. Here is one of Denachews drawing that he explained was Peter denying Christ and the rooster crowing.

As I began working on a special project for the orphans in Zeway, I began looking through their drawings and came across this picture. It occured to me that Jesus really is a universal "love language". He can build any bridge, close any gap and cover any language barrier for us to be able to love on these children. They are precious in His sight and I hope they are precious in yours.

The Hope in Ethiopia partnership will be making ornaments this year that will feature a picture of an orphan and their beautiful artwork. When you purchase an ornament, you will be feeding a child for one month.
To purchase an ornament, simply click on the picture and it will take you to the website where you can make a purchase.

Thank you for your continued support of our Hope in Ethiopia partnership.

"Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me....." Mark 9:37

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

FH Podcast about Zeway

Check out the FH Podcast recorded at the Together for Adoption Conference explaining the holistic approach this Partnership is taking with churches in Zeway and Food for the Hungry. Dawit Kassaye from Ethiopia is highlight of the podcast.

FH Podcast

Dawit's answer to why he stayed in Zeway to care for the poor is especially inspiring.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Short Update from Zeway

We received an update from Rachael who went to visit Zeway this past week (she lives in Addis). She took a photographer with her from the States, and he was able to get some outstanding photos that we cannot wait to share with you!

Please be praying for Lydia. She is a 13 year girl with 3 other siblings. Her sister who is 17 is head of the household, but there is a strained relationship between the two of them. Lydia has been extremely sick for several months now and she in the hospital currently. She is doing better, but she has been there for 4 days.

We also received a picture of Eden. If you recall, Eden was one of the first children the July 2010 team visited this past summer. Eden's story is very traumatic and heart-breaking. Below is a picture of Eden as of yesterday.Continue to pray for Eden. There are still many obstacles for her, but it is so encouraging to see her with a face that beckons a future and a hope!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Highlights of the Partnership

A unique part of this partnership is that it is a community to community (c2c) model. We feel that it is important that the local community comes together to care for the community in Zeway. That is one reason why we have not offered sponsorships of single children. This is a great model too, but we are trying something a little different.

Why are we trying something new?

Because we believe that the Church can unify locally to care for the orphan. We should really be unified on most things, and orphan care is an easy common desire and concern.

We also feel that when the local community comes together, their support is magnified. Just as it says in the Book of Matthew that when 2 or more are gathered together to pray, God makes things happen. Also, when many people combine their gifts, ideas and efforts, great things are accomplished.

We also believe that when the Church in Zeway is unifed and supported as a community, their impact will be magnified.

We saw evidence of this first hand when the orphans gathered together to form grief and loss support communities. On one of the first meetings, one orphan stated "I thought I was the only one!" Now those groups are caring for one another, praying for one another, and being an extended family to others.

So how can you be a part of this community-to-community partnership?

A great place to start is to ask your small group, Sunday school, work friends, neighbors, anyone you are in a community with, to consider pooling your resources and supporting a community in Zeway. Go to the Food for the Hungry box to the left of this post to read more about donating.

We'll then send you a prayer book so that you can learn the names and faces of all the orphans in the partnership. We'll send you regular updates so that you can share them with your community. Your local community can pray together and rejoice together as we see community transformation through orphan care.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Hope for Ephrem & Tasfa Jewelry

God never ceases to amaze me. When He calls us to do something, He is there with us every step of the way. The Hope for Ephrem jewelry sale was a major success. Within 48 hours, all the funds were raised to provide for his entire month of live-in physical rehabilitation! Sales have continued to pour in and we've been able to take that extra money and purchase extra supplies for the Tasfa jewelry to feed the orphans in Zeway. So, should I have been surprised when we were asked at the last minute to sell the jewelry at the T4A adoption conference? No. Over $1600 was sold at the conference! We are humbled by the way God is allowing us to help care for our dear friend Ephrem and the orphans in Zeway.

You lived among the least of these. The weary and the weak. And it would be a tragedy for me to turn away. All my needs you have supplied. When I was dead you gave me life. How could I not give it away so freely? - Lyrics, Follow you by Leeland

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Hope In Ethiopia at T4A

The Together for Adoption Conference is in Austin this coming weekend, Oct 1 and 2. Over 1000 people are expected from all over the country to learn more about how the Church can be a part of the solution for the global orphan crisis.

There will be two sessions that will focus on the Hope in Ethiopia: Zeway partnership. We are thrilled to be able to present to others what God is doing in Zeway, offer them the chance to come partner with us, and also encourage attendees with their own orphan care initiatives.

Please be praying for this weekend. Not only for the Zeway sessions, but also that more people's hearts would be broken, as God's is, for the orphan.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Hope for Ephrem

While we were in Ethiopia, we had the priviledge of meeting Ephrem. He was a social worker in Ethiopia who was paralyzed in a car accident. Although his story is tragic, God has been faithful and continues to place miracles in his life. I made a personal promise to Ephrem that I would keep in touch with him and that He would always be a part of our family. Although Ephrem is paralyzed, he recently began feeling pain in his legs and the doctors are hopeful that his nerves have started to heal! This is truly a miracle!! Ephrem needs to go to a live in rehabilitation center for this care. The cost is $700 per month. It has been the burden of my heart to help my brother Ephrem. We've been in prayer about this and I have decided to donate 100% of the profits from my Funky Fish collection to help Ephrem with his medical expenses. Please consider making a purchase and helping our brother Ephrem. If you can't make a purchase, please consider spreading the word.

To see the jewelry, please visit or Funky Fish on facebook.

Thank you.

The godly cry out and the Lord hears; he saves them from all their troubles.
Psalm 34:17

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Artwork in Grace Gallery

Be sure to drop by the Gallery at Grace Covenant Church to view the exhibit: Hope in the Faces of Zeway. During the summer team trip, the orphans in the partnership were offered paper, colored pencils and materials, and inspiration to create beautiful works of art. The inspiration were their own faces as they drew self-portraits.

There will be more to come on-line about the artwork for those of you who do not attend Grace Covenant, so please be looking for more information about the exhibit.

Enjoy a sneak preview of Hope in the Faces of Zeway:

Monday, August 16, 2010

There are never enough words....

"So, how was it"? This is the question I am asked the most about my experience in Zeway. Most of the time, I find myself at a complete loss for words. How do you put an experience like this into words? Whoever coined the phrase "a picture is worth a thousand words" was a true genius. If a picture is worth a thousand words....a video is worth even more. If you didn't have the opportunity to attend "Hope in Africa", I invite you to watch a video created by our trip leader, Matt Kouri. It truly captures the very essence of our trip and I believe it will touch your heart.

Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." Matthew 19:14

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Please Support the Orphans of Zeway

The orphans of Zeway and the Zeway partnership need your support. We would humbly ask that you pray about how God might allow you to be involved. You can:

- Commit to pray for one of the Zeway orphans (or all of them!) and even write them a letter
- Pray about whether God might be leading you to visit Zeway at some point in the future
- Pray about whether you can make a financial gift to the partnership. We are working to raise more than $200,000 a year for 3 years, and we are making good progress. But we need more support. You can give in a number of ways, including:

1. Make a commitment to a monthly pledge of $50 (or more!) which covers all of the costs of supporting one orphan. (click here)
2. Make a one-time gift to the partnership that will be use to support the partnership broadly. (click here)
3. You can even go shopping here for hand-made African jewelry! 100% of the proceeds go to support the Zeway orphans.

Thank you for considering being a part of what God is doing in Zeway!

Hope in Africa - August 1

If you are in the Austin area, please join us in sharing how God is working in several countries in Africa. There will be food samples, cultural displays, videos and testimonies. It is on August 1 from 3:30-5:30 at Grace Covenant Church Auditorium.

People who served in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Uganda, Kenya, and the DR Congo will be sharing and of course, the Hope in Ethiopia Summer Team will be sharing. Please join us!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

More About This Rachael

Out of the team of 5 who went to Zeway only 4 returned. Rachael Moise, recent masters graduate of social work stayed behind in Addis Ababa. She has lived in Ethiopia for several summers and returned this time for a 2 year stay working at a mission guest house.

Rachael goes to Austin Stone when she is in Austin, but upon hearing about Hope in Ethiopia and Grace's work there, she attended several gatherings to learn more. Her heart, her skills and her interests seem to just match perfectly with the vision of the Hope in Ethiopia.

She was able to join the team that went in July and as Matt recalled "She just looked like one of those girls who you see photographed in magazines serving in Africa."

It has been amazing to see how God is weaving all sorts of people into this Partnership and with Rachael's skills in social work, she is a perfect thread in His tapestry. Already, she is tackling several reports and research projects for the Partnership while she also serves at the missionary guest house.

So please be praying for Rachael as she serves alongside us, though across the ocean. You can read more about Rachael's adventures on her blogsite.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Relationship Built On and By Prayer

by Ellen Tuthill, contributing blogger

A couple of years ago, my son came home from Sunday School with a small brown card from the Zeway team. It had the picture of a teenage boy on it. He was handsome and thin, sitting on a bed, alone. His name was Ibsa.

The card instructed us on how to pray for Ibsa, who was forced to be dependent on his not-entirely-dependable older brother. My son, being the dutiful first-born, was upset to hear that a big brother wasn't taking good care of his younger sibling, since Baker spends lots of time doing just that. He quickly fell into a pattern of praying for Ibsa, unprompted by us, in his bedtime prayers. He often prayed for Ibsa's brother to "do the right thing", because that's the way his own heart leaned.

Sometimes there would be weeks or months when he forgot about Ibsa, but then the young man would pop up again in Baker's prayers. It seemed like Ibsa had become very real to him, even though he lived on the other side of the ocean and lived a very different life. As my little son grew and developed over the last year, he started to be more concerned about Ibsa's emotions. We would read updates from the Zeway team and talked about how we wished we could give him hope. Baker began to pray against Ibsa's loneliness and for God to help him not to be afraid. And he always asked God to give Ibsa a safe place to live.

There isn't anything so sweet to me as seeing a 6-year-old start to understand that the world is much bigger than what he can see, and that God asks us to care about -- and for -- those who are far away and in distress. Whereas I can become despondent and overwhelmed at the thought of the great suffering in the world, my son is very comfortable just taking up the needs of one young boy in prayer. He feels that this is his job, and he does it, happily. He doesn't worry about what he CANNOT do.

I hope that I can learn from him how to shoulder not EVERY burden -- that's God's job, isn't it? -- but the ones that the Lord lays before me specifically, the children whose names I can know and speak out loud and pray over, and maybe even someday visit. I have a prayer list of Zeway's orphans on my fridge, and over time, I have gotten so familiar with their names that it almost seems like I know them.

Names are powerful things. We can't really know an individual until we know his name. I love supporting the Zeway partnership because there are real live children with beautiful Amharic names "living" on my fridge. There are real live friends from Grace going to Africa to meet these children, comfort them, pray for them in person on our behalf, and meet their many needs. And there are dedicated Christian social workers and pastors on the ground, every day, tending to these precious ones. These adults have names and faces too, and the team has asked us to pray for them as well. What a privilege. I'm so grateful that God has given all of us -- even my son -- a way to partner with Him in His mercies.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Back in the States

The team landed safely back in the U.S. this afternoon, and they will be home this evening. Keep checking back as there will be more updates directly from the team and contributing bloggers.

Mark your calendars now for August 1. Bridges of Grace will be hosting a Hope in Africa trip update and all those who have traveled to Africa over the past year will share their stories -- from Zambia to Zimbabwe, Congo to Ethiopia, the Lord's name is proclaimed through the people of Grace in Africa!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Almost Done

The team did some sight-seeing today and they spent several hours meeting with the Food for the Hungry staff and directors to discuss the progress of the Partnership. Food for the Hungry has been a blessing to work with as they listen and care for our participation in the Partnership.

Now that the team is in Addis, they have a bit more internet connection and they are able to send pictures. Enjoy!The team at church with Dawit translating -- nothing like impromptu speaking for short-term mission goers!
A widow and her childFather and son whom John prayed with to accept and trust Christ

Dawn and Melkete the Artist! Notice Melkete's beautiful hair!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Back in Addis Ababa

The team is back in Addis Ababa now and wouldn't you know they are having Tex-Mex for dinner this evening. That should be interested!

Tuesday, they will visit a few government run orphanages in Addis. Pray that the Lord fills them with joy to visit the children, care and love them.

Before the team left Zeway, they made one last stop to Melkete and Denebe's house. You'll be reminded of their story if you watch the video on the side bar. Melkete has put her trust in Christ and is doing very well. Unlike our first visit to their house, Melkete and Denebe are joy-filled, they have their physical needs met, they are going to school and Melkete is beginning job training. The Lord has been gracious to let us be a part of this transformation!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Seeing God's Love in Nature

As Norman Furley preached today at church, one way of understanding the vastness and careful concern of God's love is to find it in nature. That is what the team is doing today. Their trip is slowly coming to a close.
There is a lake near Zeway and a retreat center there. Odd that a retreat center and hotel would be located near such poverty, but that is the dichotomy of our world. The team retreated to this hotel for the night to debrief and be close to nature as they process and rest with the Lord.
Here, the team bought Dawit, who visited Grace in February, a massage (gotta love $9 massages!). He thoroughly enjoyed it! Dawit sometimes appear to hold the world on his shoulders as the director of many programs caring for the needy. Please pray for him as he makes difficult decisions daily. God's grace is poured on him daily and may it never cease!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Joy-Filled Day of Play

Food for the Hungry regularly organizes play days for the orphans. It is time for them to safely play and for the social workers to check in with them. The team was able to participate in this play time, and they brought along art supplies so that the children could do some painting and have a creative outlet (these paintings and photos of the children will be on display in the Grace Gallery after they return!)

Most of the updates we receive are from text messages (texting is more accessible and reliable than internet connections) so the updates are a bit choppy, but precious all the same!

From the Team

The children loved the artwork and there are some awesome pieces. They loved it and we had a sweet time interacting with all of them. We got to see and get updates from Alemetsaye, Alemayhu, Mohomed and Chala, Cherenet, Hawa and many more.

We also played soccer and we re-enacted a rematch of the U.S.A verses Ghana. This time the USA won 5-3. Matt scored 2 goals and John was a rock wall on defense.

Keep praying for the team as they are on the down hill of time on the trip. They will be spending church with the Zeway Evangelical Church Fellowship today and they will have some time of good fellowship.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Making God's Blessings Available

by Scott Thacker, Contributing Blogger

This past week I began reading a book by Mae Cannon on Social Justice. The opening of the book spends time exploring God’s perspective on justice and our part in seeing it carried out within the world we live in. As I read, the following quote stuck out to me: “Comprehensive biblical justice is the scriptural mandate to manifest the kingdom of God on earth by making God’s blessing available to all humankind.” It stuck out to me because it was the answer to why my wife Heather and I believe in caring for orphans – why we believe in Zeway. Plain and simple, we want to be a part of making God’s blessing available.

So what does it look like to “make God’s blessing available”? I think it takes a couple of forms. In scripture, the blessings of God were both spiritual (Matthew 5) and physical (Matthew 25). God’s expectation is that we will respond to those who are in need (hungry, thirsty, naked, in prison) while also sharing the good news of Jesus with those who are lost. That is exactly what our friends are doing this week in Zeway. They are loving the orphans by caring for their physical needs while telling them of the love of Christ. What an amazing thing to be a part of God’s work.

Do you want to be part of making God’s blessing available this week? Easy way to do it – pray. Pray for Ethiopia. Pray for the orphans in Zeway. Pray for the team. Let’s see what God does.

God is Moving!

Today the team visited a few of the newest additions to the Partnership and those are widows dying of HIV/AIDS and their children who will be orphans soon. These visits can be very difficult and one can leave with great burden and a sense of hopelessness for the people in that household.

God blessed the team, however, by allowing them to visit Amaloek, whose situation is bleak, but not hopeless. Please read below the update from the team about this God-fearing widow.

The final visit of the morning was a mother, Amaloek, who has 3 boys 10 years, 6 years, and 4 months. She was stoic and they had the most barren house we had ever seen-- a couple pots and a canvas sheet on the floor to sleep on, no pad at all, and she is nursing a 4 month old.

Her husband left recently because he is a polygamist and has another family and provides her no support. She said she was mentally crazy, but then she found Christ and was healed!

She attends an evangelical church when she can. She had a Bible and reads it regularly, and she spoke about God in such a mature, sold-out way! SHe said she would rather have God than food, that she wants her boys to get a good education and grow up to be Godly men. WE were so encouraged by her. She asked us to pray that the God who rose from the dead would also bring her from the grip of this deadly disease, so we prayed with more vigor and faith than we had all trip for her and her boys. Please pray for Amaloek that He would heal her and continue to use her as an example of Christ for all. Her neighbors, the clinic staff, everyone is alwasy asking her how she does what she does with her strength, and she points them to God!

Didn't have a good pic of her with me now but more later. This one is Dawn giving her a Jesus necklace.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Praying for the Innocent

by Brandi Banks, Contributing Blogger

The innocent whose innocence has been stolen. This makes my heart weep. I grew up in a very safe home. My father, who is in law enforcement, did experience many threats on our family, but I never knew about any of it. Why? Because, by the grace of God, I had my parents watching over me and protecting me.

These innocent orphans, however, because of the depravity of man, have been subject to fear, disease, and violence. Their parents have been taken from them, and they are left with the responsibility to grow up quickly, care for their young brothers and sisters, and be supernaturally courageous. I never knew this kind of fear or responsibility as a child. As an adult however, the Holy Spirit has opened my eyes and heart to God's order that we care for these orphans. I hurt for them, and it is my desire to do what I can to help them. When I can give financially, great. But, more importantly, I CAN PRAY. And, there is no circumstance that prevents me from that ability.

It's easy to see pictures of orphans and keep them two-dimensional in our minds. We must realize these are individuals that are uniquely created by God. We must be mindful of their souls and the eternal significance of their lives. I pray that these children would thirst for righteousness more than they thirst for water and that they hunger for intimacy with the Father more than they hunger for food. They need help. Let's shoulder their burden and let them be children again. To God be the glory.


If you have been moved by the Orphans of Zeway or with other orphan care situations, and you would like to contribute to the blog and share your story, please email!

Hairstylists in Training

The team arrived in Zeway this morning and they were able to visit a few of the girls who are in job training through the partnership. These girls are learning to style hair. Melkete, whom many have prayed for because she almost lost her home, is one of the girls in training.

A Visit with Eden

The reports from Zeway can be heart-breaking. We know that the God above has placed His people exactly where He wants them to care for these children. It is not within the time frame or with all the measures that so often we would like to see. We are not always called to be rescuers of these children; we are called to pray for them, to advocate for them, to care for their physical needs, to point them to the place of an eternal banquet in which our cups will overflow: at the feet of Jesus.

Keeping all that in mind, still won't make this easy to read:

from Matt in Zeway:

Our first house visit was with Eden, a young teenage girl who is new to the partnership. She is in rough shape. She is HIV positive. Her father died last year and her mother died when she was 3. She also has epilepsy, and about 4 months ago had a seizure when she was roasting coffee and fell unconscience into the fire. She was severely burned on her left arm and leg. Because of our FH partnership and funding, they were able to get her to a hospital for treatment. She is doing better now but still has significant grief.

She opened up to us in an amazing way. Her step-mother who practically raised her refused to have anything to do with her since her father died and since she learned she had HIV. She is so desperate for a family, so much so that she called her relatives from another town and acted like she was a friend of herself and told them that Eden had died, just to see their reaction. They immediately came to Zeway and to Eden's house, but only to collect her things for their own use. When they saw her, they were angry and demanded that she pay for their transportation costs back home.

She wept with us, and when Dawn shared with her a very personal situation from her past, she immediately connected with Dawn, who got up to hug her, and they hugged for a very long time. Each time Dawn tried to pull away, Eden held her tighter. She is so in need of a mother.

We finally left and prayed for her, and we are happy that she will spend all day tomorrow with Dawn and several other girls getting trained on jewelry-making.

There is great sadness and great joy with these trips. Please pray; the Lord will remember His beloved.

Psalm 72:12-14 He will have compassion on the poor and needy. And the lives of the needy He will save. He will rescue their life from the oppression and violence. And their blood will be precious in His sight.

Isaiah 53:5 But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our sins. The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him. And by His wounds, we are healed.