Saturday, December 18, 2010

Lasting Change/Hope

Before arriving on Sunday, December 12, 2010, it had been six months since we last stepped foot on Ethiopian ground. It had been six months since we've seen the children that captured our hearts and God used to change us forever. It had been six months since we've been able to see for ourselves the work that Onesimus/The Forsaken Children is doing on a daily basis. And within those six months, I can testify that much has happened. Much has changed, and through Onesimus Children Development Association, the Lord is working in the lives of the children and the community at large.

Here are just two examples for you today...

You can read a little past about Desse at:

Having been one of the first beneficiaries for Onesimus/The Forsaken Children, Desse has captured the hearts of many throughout the years. However, the road with Desse has been anything but easy. We have read stories over the years of his constant uncertainty for change, his running away habits, his inability to accept the love of the Onesimus staff in full, and the amazing Christ-like love that Nega and his staff have displayed that continued to pursue him against all odds. When we first met Desse ourselves in June 2010, I began to see what the TFC staff had mentioned. Although I (and most of the mission trip team) definitely fell in love with him and looked forward to seeing every smile, every laugh, and receiving every hug, it was obvious that Desse suffered from what we termed "attachment disorder". He jumped from person to person, never really settling in on one or two people to bond with... instead it was as if he looked for quick fulfillment from each person and as soon as he got bored, or maybe even felt that we cared, he'd move on to the next. Unlike most of the other children that seemed to bond specifically with one or two people, Desse seemed to always look to find the next best thing or "run away" from the attachments that were developing. Although looking happy or laughing at times, Desse never seemed really settled during our time visiting in June.

This time however, I am so happy to share that Desse is no longer the same. He is not the boy we met in June 2010, although still as lovable as ever, he is different in some very positive ways.

Wednesday evening we were able to visit with the Halfway Home boys and Desse was there. He is now living within the Onesimus/TFC Halfway Home, complete with 5 other "brothers", house parents Abezu and Alemyu, and their beautiful little girl, Beza, and little boy, Danny. As always, we had a wonderful time with this special crew of boys, but this time we met a few new additions to the home and also were able to experience the new Desse. He has obviously been changed by the unfailing and long standing love of Jesus and the Onesimus staff. I would describe him as more settled. He is undoubtedly happy and seems to be fully at ease. No longer is he jumping from relationship to relationship, but sits in the comfort of the love of his "brothers" and house parents. He greeted us warmly and gave to us small gifts - a picture of two cats he had, another cut out photo, and most impacting and generous, he gave us a photo of his family - the 6 halfway home boys together that was taken just last month. No longer does Desse seem to be afraid to give his all to others, committing himself to love them too, even if it might hurt. He has come a long way, and we have only witnessed a small bit of the long progression and transformation, but have been blessed to see the exceptional fruit of this ministry in one body - DESSE!

Desse in 2008

Desse with Jessica Bridges- June 2010
Desse - December 2010


Although relatively new to Onesimus/The Forsaken Children ministry, Aster was a part of the Girls Halfway Home when we arrived to Ethiopia in June 2010. She lived with her house mother, Fetla and at that time three "sisters", Hanna, Maeza, and Ruth (Metu is now there also). There was definitely something about Aster that softened my heart and left me with a desire to get to know her better. She did not speak much English and was withdrawn and timid throughout most of our time, although we could get her involved with prodding. She was sweet and quiet, but one could tell that the baggage and past had left her with many scars within. Turns out, prior to living at the halfway home, Aster had lived with her mother on the streets, but around the time we came (either before or after) to Ethiopia, her mother had died. Upon our first meeting of Aster, although she was beautiful, especially when looking intently at her face, it was actually difficult to tell if she was a boy or girl. Her hair was cut very short and all the clothes she possessed were boy clothes. I later learned the painful truth that often girls of the streets dressed as boys to conceal their identity in hopes of hiding from the predators that roam and corrupt at night.

The timid, withdrawn, and boyish Aster that I knew in June has been transformed over the past six months. Today I am so happy to share that she is absolutely beautiful, outgoing, and confident. She does not shy away any longer. Even though she still speaks only a bit of English, we are constantly finding inventive ways to communicate with each other and make each other laugh. I love this girl. Along with her halfway home sister, Ruth, she is my little buddy constantly by my side. She and Ruth are the first to grab my bag when they see me arrive, and the first to give me a hug. I'm so thankful for how the Lord has worked to heal Aster's wounds over the last six months His provision of love around her in the Onesimus staff.

Aster (circled in yellow)- June 2010

Beautiful Aster today with halfway home sister Hanna
Aster today showing some of her bright personality

When I think of Desse and Aster, I'm reminded of Joe's (The Forsaken Children founder) comparison to Jesus' parable of the lost sheep in Luke 15. Jesus tells us in this parable that even for just ONE, there is must rejoicing in heaven. Therefore, for even ONE street child to receive the lasting hope of Christ and a changed life forever, everything Onesimus and The Forsaken Children do is worth it. Even if it was just for Desse and Aster, every bit of support raised would be worth these two! But the most amazing part is, I can attest that more than these are being affected through this ministry and for that we are most encouraged and grateful! God is mighty to save!


Kelly said...

Great post! Love the insight to what intangible changes are taking place via TFC.

Frank Bryant said...

What a great example of changing lives, one at a time. Loved it!

jp and kara moses said...

Wow! I can't believe the difference in Aster! She looks great and seems much happier. So excited to hear how much she and Desse have changed. Thanks for sharing!