Famine on my Heart at Christmas

As we prepare to return back to The US for Christmas, I am leaving Ethiopia with a heavy heart. I should be excited, and deep down I am. I am grateful that God worked it out so that we will be back in the US attending USCIS appointments over Christmas. I am excited to be spending our first Christmas with family since 2008. I love the Christmas smells, sights and traditions. I love how there is at least a remote possibility that our culture will pause in between Frosty The Snowman and Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer to at least consider O Come O Come Emmanuel.

And I love the food. The tastes of Christmas are absolutely amazing. But, this is when I start becoming conflicted. The excess of Christmas stands in great contrast to the many who are suffering in Ethiopia right now.

This is not your typical “Clean your plate because kids are starving in Africa” kind of reality. Ethiopia is rapidly expanding. Construction is booming. The economy is growing. Less people are in desperate poverty. Roads are improving and educational opportunities are expanding.

Yet, the reports are that by January, 15 Million Ethiopians may be in need of food aid. An El Nino induced drought has meant that in some areas of the country, they are only harvesting 10% of a normal harvest. Crops have failed and cattle are dying. People are losing their entire livelihoods and now are just holding on – hoping for a change. Along with those numbers, the UN reports that already 350,000 children are severely malnourished enough that they need therapeutic intervention to survive and that number is also expected to climb. But, there is not enough to go around and not enough funding to cover all of the needs.

In Addis Ababa, we must drive a couple of hours or more to be in the midst of these drought-stricken areas. It is dry in Addis and dusty, but it is that every time of the year. We still see some green, the fields right outside of the city recently had suitable harvests and the only real sign of a shortage is that food prices continue to climb, making it harder for the poor to feed themselves.

But, now the reality is finding us. Every day, we have more families showing up at EHE’s gate whose stories sound very similar. These are families with 2 or 3 children who lost everything in Wollo and Gojam. They snuck out of the region to move to the city where they hoped that someone would be able to help them. Now they are on the streets, begging, with no food, sick and malnourished.

But while physical poverty is making their bellies ache, it truly is the psychological and spiritual poverty that is hitting the hardest. They feel hopeless having lost everything and now facing nothing.

It is to these families that Embracing Hope Ethiopia wants to help in the short term. Our desire is to provide them with relief over the next year to help them make it through, to infuse them with hope and to help them get back on their feet. Daily now, our local officials call or stop by with another hopeless situation they have found. They are begging us for help.

They even use those words that cut me to the heart, “As a Christian, could you please do something for them.” These words come from officials whose hands are tied and they can do nothing – but they are hopeful that Jesus followers will do something.

Would you help us during this season to feed, clothe, provide medical care, spiritual care, counseling and hope to the poorest of the poor who are displaced in Kore’?

Your gift during this time of year helps us to provide this needed relief in Jesus’ Name in the face of famine. We commit to get the relief to those who need it most around us – caring for the most desperate first.

You can even give a gift to our Famine Relief Fund at www.EmbracingHopeStore.com in someone’s name and we’ll email you a card that you can give to them this Christmas letting them know that someone’s life is given hope as a result of that gift.

And, please also help us this Tuesday. Tuesday is #GivingTuesday when social media turns its attention to giving to non-profits around North America. Would you help spread the word about EHE’s work and encourage people who are giving with purpose this #GivingTuesday to give to EHE?

Soon we’ll be on a plane to the US, enjoying snow, turkeys and twinkly lights. But O God, in your mercy, please do not let us forget about those who are suffering and in need at this time of year.

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