As if my last blog post wasn’t complex enough…

A couple of days ago I wrote a blog entry talking about some of the complexities of poverty.  My plan was today to write on a different topic – maybe a bit more light hearted, thought provoking or devotional in nature.

But, then I walked to the Day Care and was faced with one of those situations that can only be solved through prayer for a direct intervention of God.  Complex does not even start to explain this one away.  I share it because it fits so closely with the previous blog.

Here is the situation.

We have a mom and her son in the project.  I am going to refer to them as Senayit and her son Tamerat.  They have been with us since the beginning.  Tamerat is 3 years old and making light speed progress on all levels.  Senayit came to us as a mom who was totally shut off from the outside world, depressed and untrusting.  Her husband had left her, totally abandoning her and her young son to chase after a life that he felt had more promise.  He never filed for divorce, but rather he just stopped showing up. He has never sent any form of support.  He has never cared or been concerned.

Until a couple of weeks ago.

Dad heard through the grapevine that Senayit was now working and that there were people working alongside her. He decided he was going to show up and cash in.  He didn’t just want a piece of the $36 USD she was now making per month.

He wanted all of it.

In this kind of situation, Senayit is powerless.  She cannot seek a divorce.  She must listen to him when he returns.  So, he showed up at the door and started to demand money.  She tried to resist him, yet the scene he caused in the neighborhood left only one possible outcome – permit him into the home.

Now, Dad is coming and going from the home.  He shows up long enough to demand money from Senayit, which he then goes to the bar with and stays all day and into the night drinking away.  She works.  He drinks.  She is watching her hard earned money being drank away by this man who never cared…until he learned that there might be something for him.  She was starting to dig her way out…now he is helping her to dig a deeper hole.

And, if history repeats itself, when the going gets tough again and the money dries up, he’ll be gone once again.

As you can imagine, this is a complex situation – and one that our staff has to handle delicately.  Please pray for wisdom – and for a mighty move of God.   Pray that this man could come to grips with the wake of destruction that he has left in the past and is repeating in the present.  Please pray for Senayit as she is caught powerlessly in the middle.  Please pray for little Tamerat – a truly innocent bystander who shouts “Daddy” in Amharic at every man he sees in the center.    And, please pray for our staff – as we try to see what God wants to do in this situation and partner with Him in it.

Fortunately, we know that we serve a Master who is in the process of making all things new.  The Redeemer can redeem this too!   We are a people with great hope…and that’s Good News!

8 Comments on “As if my last blog post wasn’t complex enough…

  1. Oh, Jerry and Christy. We will be praying for you and this family. May Senayit, her husband, and son also come to know their Redeemer.

  2. Ouch! That is tough. We have lived in the inner-city of Minneapolis for 15 years and see so much of that within the urban poor. Women on welfare, men living off them, I guess the difference is that the moms I see aren’t working necessarily. However, they do realize what the men are doing and seem powerless to send them away (not by culture but by choice). In is frustrating because government assistance (my tax dollars) are involved, it is so messed up! It would be great if you could follow up with explaining the culture. Why can’t she divorce him? What cultural expectations are on these women? I would love to learn more about the culture in Ethiopia. I think it would give more insight to your supporters (you may have shared before but I haven’t read all your posts).

  3. This physically makes me hurt. Immediately my heart and mind turn to my fleshly sin nature of so many ungodly feelings. I’ll be in prayer and please keep us posted on how everything turns out.

  4. Life is complex and the answers to life’s problems are more than the human mind can tackle. Jesus is the only solution. I’ve seen and experienced interventions from God that have overcome worse. Nothing is impossible for God.

  5. Bree. You are absolutely correct. We continually try to be mindful of Ephesians 1 – “That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which He exerted in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given not only in the present age but also in the one to come…”

    Without Jesus…there really is nothing.

  6. Ingrid. Great questions.

    There are a number of factors here to keep in mind. These are from my perspective, so there may be other perspectives out there as well, but this is what I have seen practiced and heard.
    1. We do not have a social welfare kind of system here that could intervene for this family.
    2. Advocacy is not an option except for a handful of organizations that are specifically licensed to advocate. To all others it is restricted.
    3. Moms like this one are powerless and invisible. They have nothing to offer others, so therefore they are not seen as worth intervening for.
    4. Divorce among the lower income structures is only something that a man can initiate. There are some cases of middle class women filing for divorce now, however women among the lower class are not permitted. Dad is free to come and go and Mom is expected to keep the door open. There also are cases of men having multiple wives in different cities. The woman is not permitted to divorce even in this case.
    5. This is a shame based culture. Therefore women are culturally conditioned to respond out of shame. When there is enough poured on, they will give in.
    6. Culturally there is an expectation to keep your stuff to your self. Therefore if your drunk husband shows up and starts to cause a scene, you are going to be likely to take it indoors and live with it, rather than having it aired outside.
    7. In many cases in the slum, men are not hard workers and women are. Because of unemployment, hopelessness and choices, one is more likely to see groups of men sitting around the bars or sitting on the corner chewing khat day after day while women are working very hard within the home as well as outside the home in order to provide food for the family. This is true for young and old. So, for a dad to want to spend the day at the bar while mom is working is not uncommon in the slum area. T
    8. This one spilled out into the community where neighbors were hearing them arguing. A common community response would be for peace to be kept at all costs and for some pressure to be placed on Mom to let him back in.

    Again, these are my observations, for what they are worth. hope it helps a bit.

  7. This is so heart-wrenching!! Yet, I know it is so true. You all are in my thoughts and prayers in a very special way.

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