Monday, October 17, 2011

Hope in Ethiopia has a new website!!!

Please visit the brand new website for Hope in Ethiopia!!
If you will be at T4A in Phoenix, stop by and say Hello! We'd love to tell you more about this awesome partnership!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Congratulations Dawit and Hiwot!

A year ago we had a special guest to Austin, Dawit Kassaye, who was the FH Zeway director. Dawit is from Addis Ababa and it was his first trip to the U.S. He blessed many by his prayers, wisdom, and compassion for the poor.

In August 2010, Dawit decided to attend Denver Theological Seminary and after arriving in the U.S., re-acquainted himself with an old friend, Hiwot Alayew. She lived in Minneapolis, but that certainly didn't stop them from falling in love!

Dawit and Hiwot married today in Minneapolis and Hiwot will be joining Dawit in Denver so that he can finish his graduate work. Congratulations Dawit and Hiwot! Pray for God to richly bless their marriage!

Tom Sanchez, Global Outreach Pastor of Grace spoke at the reception.

Dawit, always mindful of the poor, shared about the drought in Africa during the reception, and made a call to action to his guests to care for the poor during his wedding speech. That is Dawit.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Hope in Ethiopia event

We had a great event on Sunday sharing about everything God is doing in Zeway. In case you missed it, here are some pictures!

The Tesfa jewelry collection. Want to see more? Schedule a home party! Learn more here.

Beautiful artwork from the orphans of Zeway. Several pieces still available!

Baker Tuthill shares about how on his birthday, instead of gifts, he asked for donations for the orphans of Zeway. Baker collected $92.00!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

We are so excited to introduce another item that will continue to raise awareness to the Hope in Ethiopia partnership and the beautiful children of Zeway.

Ethiopian Clothing Cards
Artwork drawn by Senayet. Notecards designed by Kathy McClelland.

Designed by Senayet, this set of four clothing cards contains brilliant drawings of a dress, a pair of pants, a skirt and a sweater. Many of the colors in the note cards - red, yellow and green - represent those of the Ethiopian flag. Made by an orphan of Zeway, let this set of cards be a fun way to drop a note to a friend!


Available here.

Flowers and Homes of Africa
Artwork drawn by children of Zeway. Notecards designed by Kathy McClelland.

Several orphan artists created this compilation of beautiful cards. The green bordered card containing neatly drawn flowers surrounding a house was done by Abyham. Gumane drew the hut and flowers in the brown border. The large vibrant and colorful flower with the blue border was the creation of Hiwot. And the delicate pink flower was designed by Samerawit. Use this diverse set of cards to send thank you notes knowing you are sharing the work of orphans.

$10.00 Available here

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Bible Listening Groups in Ethiopia

One of the amazing things that happened on our trip to Zeway this past June was being able to take a "Proclaimer" audio bible (, recorded in Amharic, the most widely-spoken Ethiopian dialect, as a gift for the Zeway Evangelical Church leaders. They had literally just started to tell us how they were struggling with being able to get the Gospel story out to people when we were able to give them this gift! It was a Holy Spirit moment, and as these pictures show, they are making great use of this very cool little black box. Praise God for this!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Hear More on August 7th

God is doing so many wonderful new things through The Hope in Ethiopia partnership that we can't keep them to ourselves!

Please plan to join us on Sunday, August 7 in the Children's Auditorium at Grace Covenant Church at 1:15.

We'll share the ways ophans' lives are being transformed and how the community is transforming through orphan care. We’ll also share new plans to bring water to dry places, and an exciting extension of the partnership! The people of Zeway are encountering hope in the form of Jesus Christ and His provision through local churches, loving social workers, and the outpouring of love from the people of Grace.

We suggest you pack a sack lunch or pick up food and drinks before we begin at 1:15. All children are welcome, or you can pre-register your 0-4 year old children for childcare. Children must PRE-register on the Grace website. The event will end at 2:15.

We hope this gathering will be informative, fun, and inspiring for both kids and adults. Feel free to forward this invitation to your adult communities, life groups, and friends!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Ibsa's X-ray

This is a picture of Ibsa's hand. He injured his hand during a soccer game and he went to the FH offices to see if someone could help. Typically, Ibsa would not have seen that as an option, but with the support of the partnership, medical care is very much an option.

It seems simple enough to fix a sprained or broken finger, but many cases in Zeway and other parts of Ethiopia, it isn't simple at all. Many children who break a finger, arm or foot when young never get it medically treated and the bone realigns improperly and causes other related problems. It is very common to see a foot or a finger that has healed in a crooked and painful way.

We are thankful for the support of the partnership that Ibsa had his hand x-rayed and treated properly. He should be well on his way to recovery.

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Tesfa Jewelry Collection

I love how God creates beauty from ashes. I love how God has allowed what most people would consider trash....old, unwanted be used by women to create a beautiful item. The paper bead. And I love how He has used those paper beads to help feed orphans in Zeway, Ethiopia.

When we first started the Tesfa jewelry collection it was just Cathy Clark & myself stringing up as many bracelets and necklaces as we possibly could. We were seeing beads in our sleep. But more women are getting involved and we are excited to see whats happening. Recently, a group of women who are in a Life group together asked if they could string up beads as a "girls night" activity. Here's what happened:

Another lady from church asked if she could make jewelry. She was given this box of beads:

And she made these:

It's so exciting to see how God is allowing so many people to use their gifts and talents to help the orphans in Zeway. Jewelry is just one, small way to get involved. Consider having a home party or giving Tesfa jewelry as a gift. These bracelets & necklaces are not just a fashion statement...they are opportunities to share about what God is doing in Zeway.

To see more of the Tesfa jewelry collection, click here.

Interested in a home party? Send us an email!

'Tie them as symbols on your careful that you do not forget the LORD'
Deuteronomy 6:8 & 12

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Chala Update

We learned that Chala indeed took his college entrance exams during the week of June 13, but we will not know the results until September. (the month he will also enter college if he passes). His sister, Genet, who took her 10th grade exams, will also wait until September to know if she passed.

Bezawork, the CHH director in Zeway, did say that he met up with Chala after the exams to ask him how he did. Chala said that math and physics were a bit hard, but he felt good about the rest of the exam.

Hopefully there will be good news in September!

from left to right: Bezawork (CHH director) Mohammed, Chala, Genet

Adoption Conference Update

After the Zeway pastors, elders and wives came home from the Addis Seed Adoption Conference just over 3 weeks ago, they shared with Matt and John that they wanted to share what they learned about adoption and orphan care with their congregations.

They were eager to get started so they have set the dates of July 15 and 16 to have a local adoption conference in Zeway. THIS is fantastic!

Please be in prayer the weeks before and following July 15 and 16.
  • That the pastors would present a biblical based view of adoption and orphan care
  • That this biblical view would transcend any cultural biases
  • That families would be moved to care for the orphans in Zeway and even adopt them into forever families
  • That the orphans would be prepared for this!
  • For all the details to come together for transportation, facilities, schedule etc.
Thank you for praying! This is exciting times in Zeway!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Seeding Adoption in Ethiopia

It was a lot like watching a president’s victorious speech on election night, or maybe how it must have felt to witness Lincoln unveiling the Emancipation Proclamation.

In a few years, I believe we’ll look back on the Seed Adoption conference I was able attend this June in Ethiopia and see it as nothing less than the spark of a national spiritual and cultural transformation for adoption and the orphan. It just might have been the beginning of the end of the Ethiopian orphan crisis.

I was blessed to participate (along with Pastor John Patterson from Grace Covenant in Austin) in one of three trainings in which hundreds of Ethiopian pastors, elders, and nonprofit leaders (both husbands and wives together) heard powerful messages about the nature and extent of the Ethiopian orphan crisis, scripture’s clear call to care for orphans, God’s invention and use of adoption as the means by which we join Him in right relationship, adoption in an Ethiopian historical and cultural context, and the practical aspects of adoption in Ethiopia. Session presenters included a member of the Ethiopian federal parliament, the former Africa director of Worldvision, the General Secretary of a large Ethiopian Christian denomination, a senior Ethiopian leader from Compassion International, Nick Ostermann (pastor of The Rooted Church in Fort Worth), and many others, all of whom were Ethiopian except for Nick. There were 150+ people in attendance, including 46 from Zeway and Food for the Hungry where our current orphan care and indigenous adoption initiative is centered.

My major take-aways from the conference include:

  • The training was very professional, motivational, theologically sound, and spirit-filled
  • Several key messages were repeated by almost all speakers (evidence of the Holy Spirit moving):
  1. The church must be the answer to the crisis
  2. Adoption is the most effective solution for orphans (as opposed to foster care or orphanages)
  3. Individual action by everyone there was expected (“Each of us here can add one more child to our family.”)
  • The ancient Oromo (a large Ethiopian tribal people group) practice of “gudifecha” can serve as a strong foundation to build upon for Ethiopian adoption, but it needs the influence of scripture and other more acceptable modern practices to be truly effective
  • Adoption is the “heart of the gospel”, and all of scripture can be seen to be about God’s vertical adoption of each of us, which should motivate us to respond to His calls to care for orphans (through adoption ideally)
  • A new national Task Force on adoption and the church was formed, and two pastors from Zeway were elected to serve

There were many moving testimonies presented by attendees and speakers, and some of the key quotes I recorded include:

  • “I believe that God has raised Seed Adoption Ethiopia with a great and different vision to reach children who have no families/guardians and caregivers.”
  • “This is about you, not someone else.”
  • “Just like the stories of Moses and Esther, God can use adoption in Ethiopia to can change the story of our nation.”
  • “The orphan crisis is bigger than you think, not just children who have lost parents, it is humans who have lost our God.”
  • “Pure religion calls for men of courage and boldness, men who will march into dark and diseased places, take a child with difficulties and look at them and say you will be mine. Your identify will be in me and in this family, I am your father and you are my child. Pastors, men, my brothers, we must be the ones to lead the way in rescuing the fatherless.”
  • “God invented adoption, and it is at the center of His plan.”
  • “Local adoption is a lasting solution for the orphan crisis.”

I am so grateful for the Seed Adoption organizers, the individuals from Grace who helped underwrite the costs of the conference, and for my wife for making it possible for me to experience such an amazing event. Please pray for this movement to continue and for God to change the hearts of Ethiopians to give the millions of lonely orphans in their midst the families God intends for them to have (Psalms 68:5-6).

Monday, June 13, 2011

Zeway Missions Weekend Video

On the weekend of June 12th, this video was featured during the church service. During the service, the video ended a little early to allow time for a live update about the most recent trip to Zeway. Now you can see the full video here.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Pray for Chala on June 13

Please pray for Chala (red shirt). He is 17 and he'll be taking his college entrance exams the week of June 13.

He is a Zeway orphan who is overcoming tremendous obstacles as he lives without parental care with his 3 siblings. He is now the eldest of his family. Genet (in green) is 15 and will be taking her 10th grade exams the same week. Pray for her as well. Tariku is another brother who is not pictured and Mohammed is next to Genet.

Please pray for Chala specifically to pass these exams. The Partnership would like to offer him a scholarship to school and engage local leaders to mentor him. Pray that Chala would be an example for other orphans in Zeway to overcome their struggles!

Friday, June 3, 2011

One less orphan

One of the unique things about the Hope in Ethiopia partnership was the decision to incorporate the dying widow. It was discovered that there were several children in Zeway that were not orphans, but that their only living parent was dying and that the child (or children) would soon become an orphan. The idea was to not only provide for the child, but also care for the dying widow and give them the comfort of knowing that their children would be cared for.

Something amazing is happening. HOPE. Hope is happening. You see, these widows are not dying. It is amazing what proper nourishment, encouragement, proper medication and JESUS can do.

Last summer we visited a father & son....Negatu & Johannes. Negatu was the widowed father who had active AIDS. Johannes is his son. Johannes had never been to school, Negatu had extreme guilt for the choices in his life and was a broken man. During this emotional visit, both father & son prayed to accept Christ.

This past March, we saw Johannes. He was a completely different child. His eyes sparkled, he was in school and he was a happy boy. But, Negatu was ill. Very ill. Not only did he have AIDS, but he also had TB. The outlook was grim. But God is a Healer and He hears our prayers.

John and Matt visited with Negatu & Johannes today. Negatu is healthy again!! Thank you God for hearing our prayers! They were overjoyed to see John and Matt and the hugs were huge and the tears were plenty. Johannes made them coffee and John said it was the best coffee he's ever had.

Why do I feel it's so important to share this? Because these children don't have to be orphans. With the church learning about indigenous adoption and the help being offered to the widows, transformation is happening. Mothers & Fathers are living. Children are thriving. And the Gospel is being shared which is the ultimate source of Hope.

Today my heart is full knowing there is one less orphan in the world.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

A Cry from Zeway

This post is authored by Dawit Kassaye who acted as Zeway Food for the Hungry Director for several years until continuing his studies at Denver Seminary. Dawit is pursuing his Masters in Biblical Studies. Dawit has walked with the poor in Ethiopia for many years and has a passionate heart for the plight of the orphan.

There are many barriers that inhibit many families from adopting children from within their own community especially in Zeway, Ethiopia. First, the level of poverty hampers the lives of so many people which would not let them ‘adopt’ a child into their family. These families normally have large families. The average number of children per family is six and mainly the father wins bread but the mother in most cases is a housewife or else makes a very insignificant amount of income. Thus, impoverished life situation makes them have a blind spot on orphan crisis. It would not let them bring in a child to include as a permanent family.

Second, many people are insensitive to the orphan crisis. It is a spiritual or social sense ‘leprosy’. Their antenna could not detect the danger. They comfortably live with the orphan crisis. The community at large the church in particular lost their sense for many reasons. As the crisis inundate like a tsunami no active response is being seen!

Third, the wrong assumption of the solution to the problem, that is, many think that the problem of the orphans can be resolved only via the adoption agencies or NGO. This has been reflected as I work in the area. Many families who can afford to help at least one child come to our project office along with orphaned child with the intention that we (as NGO) assist the child. These mindsets cripple them to care for the parentless. These agencies are erroneously considered as “parents” for the unparented. Many state that “these children are yours”, thus as I decipher the concept, it marks a shift of responsibility. However, what I actually appreciation with the BOG, FH/E Zeway and ZECF is that it is a partnership which saves itself away from this danger!

Fourth, many parents afraid that the ‘adopted’ child would spoil their children in character, discipline etc consequently they do not want to include them in their family. However, it is preferred to temporarily help a child away from their home. No one would dare to take a long life commitment of these kinds of children. Fifth, children are cheap! Culturally no due attention is given to children. Many are passive when they see orphaned, homeless, hopeless children sleeping on the street, begging daily for food on the street. Finally, if they ‘adopt’ they fear that the child when grow up would leave them to get connected with his or her distant or close relatives. This takes place occasionally.

To sum up, the stated problems should not leave us with gloomy future for these orphaned children. However, better strategies need to be designed and implemented via the families, community, church and government. I would argue that the church is the best solution to the stated problem because the church is given God’s heart for the orphans!

To hear more from Dawit and his work with the poor, listen to this FH podcast.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Broken Hearts for Orphans

God is moving in Addis Ababa! Ethiopia is going to help lead the world of indigenous adoption and it is amazing to hear of the transformations!

A story from today's Seed Adoption conference:

After attending the first day of the conference, a woman went to the director of Kidmia and asked if there were specific children she could consider for adoption. The director said yes and gave her photos of two children who were available. She said she felt her heart move for adoption but she needed to talk with her husband. She went home and prayed and talked all night about God's heart for adoption and these two particular children.

In the morning the couple agreed that those two children were meant to be part of their forever family! She announced to the conference attendees on the 2nd day that her and her husband were going to learn more about the children and adoption that very day. The entire conference erupted in praise and they prayed for her in that Ethiopian power prayer way!

What is Indigenous Adoption?

Indigenous adoption is the term that is being used to describe when families adopt from their own country. So in this Partnership, we are praying for Zeway families to adopt Zeway children.

This is still a very new and unknown practice for many countries. The U.S. is very progressive in their adoption of children (and for those who have adopted this may be surprising!). But in comparison to other countries, adoption is very well-accepted here.

The term and concept of indigenous adoption is still in its early stages and it looks different for different cultures. Here are a couple of Q and A that may help explain it from our viewpoint and working with Zeway.

Why is indigenous adoption important?
There are several reasons. 1.) International adoption (American families adopting children from other countries) will not solve the orphan crisis. It won't even come close.
2. Orphan care is just not enough. (see earlier post)
3. Children placed in permanent loving families in their own communities is the most sustainable, compassionate, and loving way to care for children who have lost their parents.

Why do the Zeway pastors and wives need to attend a conference to see the need and learn about adoption?

It is not that much different in our country. Especially lately, there have been conferences all over the country sharing the amazing stories of adoption and teaching people God's heart for adoption and the practical steps to adopt. Adoption is a big step for any family and shouldn't be done without planning, learning and preparation.

The other reason is that adoption can be very counter-cultural. In countries with extreme poverty and millions of HIV orphans there are many cultural challenges that can go with adopting a child. The Seed Adoption conference is teaching what adoption looks like from a biblical viewpoint. It is helping the people see how love and the biblical understanding of adoption can transcend the cultural norms.

Will the indigenous adoption process look the same as the process in the U.S. with home studies, court proceedings etc?
This is a good question and one that we are finding the answers to through the experts brought in by Seed Adoption. Indigenous adoption in Zeway and Ethiopia will look different than a U.S. process. Likely it will have a lot less paperwork. But our desire for the children is the same. We are praying for permanent Zeway families who will make the orphaned children beloved sons and daughters with all the rights and privileges as biological children.

Will Bridges of Grace be a part of facilitating these adoptions?
Nope. There are organizations out there that know how to navigate the legal processes, matching children and families, etc. We don't. We will put the right Zeway locals in touch with these organizations so they can work out the details themselves.

What does the Ethiopian government think about this?
God's timing is amazing. Right when the government is seeing indigenous adoption as an answer to the orphan crisis, many leaders in the Zeway church are also realizing their role in adoption. It is a perfect set-up for a cultural shift in how adoption is perceived and how the church can show God's love and compassion for the children.

This conference is just the beginning of God's work in the Zeway churches to adopt children. Please keep praying that their hearts would be open and that pathways will be made. We'll keep watching and praying to see where God takes this from here!

If you have other questions about indigenous adoption and what it means for Zeway, please ask!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

News from Matt and John

Today was the first day of the Seed Adoption Conference in Addis Ababa. Matt and John were in attendance along with over 150 pastors and wives from Ethiopia. There were 44 people from Zeway at the conference!

Matt reports that it is amazing to see the teaching of orphan and adoption care in Addis. Here are a couple highlights that he reported:
  • The speakers have not shied away from being very direct about who is called to care for orphans.
  • The speakers have been extremely knowledgeable, professional,and influential in the community including a member of parliament from the Ethiopian government.
  • There have been breakout sessions including the psychological challenges of children who have had difficult and traumatic pasts
  • One speaker was very direct in speaking to the men about the importance of their involvement as fathers
The conference was a full 9 hours with little time to talk with the Zeway pastors Matt said. They did have a special time of greeting as representatives of our church are very welcomed by the Zeway pastors. The conference will be all day Wednesday, and then Matt and John will travel to Zeway on Thursday where they will have a full day to debrief with them.

Please pray for continued strength and energy for everyone.
Please pray that God would move in the hearts of the Zeway pastors to care for the children with compassion and grace.

It was a great day for Matt and John and exciting to see God moving

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Orphan Care Is Not Enough

Orphan care has many different forms. It could be providing for them physically and academically with additional food, shelter and educational supplies. Orphan care is also providing children with mentors or adult support. It can also look like building an orphanage or setting up group homes.

These are all important steps toward caring for children who are without families and parents. But it is not enough.

In the Book of John, Jesus says "I will not leave you as orphans. I will come to you."

Orphan care is necessary and a great step, but it leaves children as orphans. And as Jesus does not leave us as orphans, we shouldn't stop there either.

Which is why when the Zeway pastors said they would like to learn more about adoption of the Zeway children two years ago, we were in full support. When we heard of Seed Adoption, an adoption and orphan care conference, sponsored by many great organizations, we told the Zeway pastors about it immediately. They were also very excited to attend.

Orphan care is a step toward the ultimate form of caring for these children and that is making them beloved sons and daughters. In this Partnership, we want to strive for all the children to have forever families. Orphan care just doesn't seem like enough in Zeway.