Reflections on 9,338 miles driven!
After having driven over 9,338 miles in 2 months time and spoken to over 54 different groups of people, our time on the road is coming to a close. It has been a great home assignment and our family has met so many amazing people along the way. These people have been so receptive to the work that EHE gets the privilege of doing alongside the poorest of the poor moms day after day. These folks also warmly received our family time after time.
As I reflect on the people we have shared EHE with, there are 5 things that stand out to me about the people we have shared meals, living rooms and auditoriums with.
1. Jesus people love to give sacrificially.
It was a wonderful sight at the Sponsorship Table day after day as folks began to process how they might be able to make their finances stretch in order to partner with vulnerable families through family sponsorship. We overheard children say to their parents, “Mom and Dad. We spend way over $34 to take our family out to eat. How could we not give as a family to sponsor a family.” We saw kids make donations of change that was a tithe on their piggy banks. We engaged families who committed to prayerfully consider what they might do as they discussed with their spouse about giving. One complete stranger even gave me $20 in the Walmart parking lot for gas when he saw our window stickers about Embracing Hope. People love to give. They know the joy of giving to the poor and they love participating with God and reflecting His character through giving.
2. God has put Orphans and Widows on people’s hearts.
Everywhere we met, there were people to whom God was already speaking about the need to care for widows and orphans. God has been preparing an army of people who are able to see the invisible, the nameless, the faceless. God has brought to mind the poorest of the poor who are at the end of the line. People are praying and looking for ways to get involved. Others were allowing the issue to go deeper into their hearts as they met us in the lobbies in tears – deeply touched about the stories of perseverance and persistence and God’s rescue. We met women who are sewing outfits and blankets for orphans. We met groups who had adopted and now are looking for how to now prevent other orphans. We talked with people who are praying and considering about how God might use them to care for the most vulnerable. It is so wonderful to see God’s heart actively beating among His people to see the poor reached through the Good News of Jesus in word and deed.
3. Churches are wrestling with how to most effectively “Do” Missions.
It was so great to see how churches are getting involved in missions. Churches no longer feel comfortable in being disengaged and just sending money. At the same time, churches are wrestling with the desire to see indigenous, local, grassroots missions. Churches are refusing to be impressed by “numbers” and instead are wiling to see people transformed from the inside out over the long term. Churches are refusing to just get on board with “sexy” Missions that look good and give a feel good result to the participants. Churches are wrestling with the harm that is done at times through teams that are sent. Churches are wrestling with how to trust those who do missions on the ground Some have been burnt in the past, but courageously being led by the Holy Spirit are asking how they might trust again. It is beautiful to see this wrestling and refusing to come to quick and easy answers. They are engaging in the messiness of missions – I love it. I believe this process of discernment to be so healthy as disciples are made here in the West through this process, too.
4. The Gift of Hospitality is still very much in action.
I cannot express how grateful we are to the dozens of people and churches who opened their homes to us. People gave of their time, their energy, their money and their comforts in order to make sure we were fed things we enjoyed, that we had as much space as we needed and that we were loved on and cared for. It was absolutely humbling. In location after location we had families give up their beds so we had a place to sleep. People went out of their way to give us a place of refuge. Others put us in hotels so that we could feel we had privacy as a family. Others put money in our hands on the way out the door with a command – “This is for your family – this is not for the organization. Have some fun along the way.” Some of these folks are old friends of ours. Others are newfound friends. All along the way, they shared the love of Jesus and the Gift of Hospitality. Thank you!
5. We were again reminded of all that God has done and continues to do.
Time after time when we shared the stories of Moms and Children or the growth that EHE has seen, people would remind us of all that God has done in such a short time. When we are in the trenches we don’t see it. However, people on the road helped us to see once again how only God could do a work like this. The favor we have had. The provision we have seen. The transformations that have occurred. It could only be a God thing. That was a great reminder to us of how blessed we are and what a privilege it is to serve in Addis Ababa with an incredible God given staff and in partnership with The Incredible God.
Thank you to the many of you who shared your lives with us on this road trip. We are blessed to have gotten to spend time with you. Thank you for believing in the work that God is doing among vulnerable Moms and their Children.
Soon I’ll post about how stinking awesome my family has been in making this adventure one that we’ll always remember…
Want to know why we spent 2 months in a van and drove over 9338 miles? Check out www.EmbracingHopeEthiopia.com/sponsorships/ where you will find a number of families in need of sponsorship. They are why we do what we do.