A HOPE-FILLED VISION FOR ETHIOPIA

A STAFF TESTIMONY

 

Hilina Wendossen grew up in a missional family. From a young age, her father instilled in her a passion for the hurting. She knew that whatever she did in life, she wanted to make the world a better place. As a young Ethiopian, she has a passion and vision to see her country thrive. Becoming a part of Loving Shepherd Ministries in Addis Ababa has been an inspiring and beautiful way to live out that passion!

 

 

With a bright smile, she says, “I have a vision that my country will no longer be an example of poverty, sickness and war. I will contribute my best effort make this happen.”

 

Hilina began working for LSM in 2010 as a fresh graduate. To her surprise, she immediately found meaningful and spiritually grounded work! With a degree in social work / counseling, she thrived in her everyday interactions, caring for vulnerable young women who had been forced to make desperate decisions just to feed their babies.

 

 

Hilina remembers, “At times, I would have a counselee who was the same age as me (mid 20’s) sitting across from me. I remember early on, working with one young mom and her son in particular. They had been through such trauma and pain. You could easily see their despair and loneliness. Every time we talked, I put myself in her shoes and I started looking at my life and asked, ‘What if I was on the street every night in the cold weather making those desperate choices? Could I hold my head up high?’

 

I gained so much compassion for her. It gave me the stamina for the long work it takes to help someone who has been through that trauma find healing. It is worth sticking through the difficult seasons with this vision. There’s no greater success in life than seeing someone find TRUE hope.”

 

 

She continues, “The best part of this work is seeing a poor, hopeless, depressed and traumatized family become totally transformed! When you see them becoming fully happy, hopeful, energetic, courageous and thankful to witness the work of God and acknowledge Him in their future… there’s nothing better!”

 

This long, hard work is really just getting started. Hilina is thrilled for the opportunities LSM has in the future with the current Ethiopian government. As she and the Ethiopian team work together tirelessly on behalf of vulnerable single mothers and their children, she asks for prayer. Will you join us in praying for her?

 

 


 

HILINA’S PRAYER REQUESTS:

  • Pray that God would give me wisdom as I serve these vulnerable children and their mothers.
  • For successful and smooth relationships with the government as we serve vulnerable families and communities.
  • Pray for Ethiopia’s peace and stability.

 


GET INVOLVED:

  • Learn more about our work in Ethiopia here.
  • Become an Ethiopia Family Sponsor here.

 

SEE WHAT’S COMING UP AT LSM!

Help us cover these events in prayer as we anticipate exciting ways to encourage and network with new partners!

 

 

JOIN US IN INDIANA:

 

Sacrificial Love: A Ladies Brunch

 

We are hosting a ladies’ brunch at LSM Headquarters to invest resources in foster and adoptive families! You’ll be inspired by nationally known speaker and writer, Leslie Ludy who will talk about “The Power of a Poured Out Life.” You’ll also hear from LSM about our adoption and foster care resources and enjoy a fabulous local breakfast!

We are selling individual tickets ($20 each) and sponsored tables ($200 per table for 8 place settings). Please join us in prayer for this event where we hope to inspire others to invest in foster and adoptive families through LSM!

Saturday, August 24, 2019

9:45 am – 12:00pm

LSM Headquarters: 1935 N Main Street, Bluffton, IN 46714

https://loving-shepherd.org/leslie/

 


 

JOIN US IN ILLINOIS:


Gospel Sing with the Down Easy Boys

 

 

Join us for a free night of music with Southern Gospel group Down East Boys in Cissna Park, IL. Come for a fun family night to learn more about LSM, enjoy music and refreshments while making fun memories!

Saturday, August 24, 2019

6:00 pm – 7:30 pm

354 N 1300 E // Cissna Park, IL 60924

https://loving-shepherd.org/gospelsing19/

 


IL Annual Benefit Auction (coming this fall)

 

We’re looking ahead to this Fall’s Annual Benefit Auction in Washington, IL. If you are interested in getting involved, donating items or helping at the event, please contact Joe Gerber at joe@loivng-shepherd.org for more information! This year, we are pleased to be offering a special matching grant opportunity for all donations the night of! Stay tuned for details.

Friday, October 11, 2019

https://loving-shepherd.org/19auction/

 


GET INVOLVED:

  1. Subscribe to our blog to hear stories and stay up to date with what’s happening. (button on the blog homepage at the top)
  2. HOST A TABLE for the Ladies’ brunch and invest in foster and adoptive families!

 

CELEBRATING FREEDOM

Happy 4th of July! This weekend, as you celebrate the values of freedom, we hope you’ll join us in the fight to bring those basics to vulnerable children. It takes our collective voices to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves. Our passion is to help those who have lost their natural advocates in life. You can provide the help that is desperately needed for children.

 

NEARLY 10 YEARS AGO, A LITTLE GIRL HAD LOST HOPE.  

 

 

She shifted a heavy load of water on her tiny, bony shoulders and took another weary step. Eight year old Velinda* had been carrying water for over a mile. She did this three times a day for the family she lived with. As a restavek (child slave), Velinda worked 12-14 hour days. She was skin and bones and bore the physical and emotional scars of a broken childhood. After her parents died, she had no idea how hard life was going to be without them.

 

On day, as Velinda was walking home from the river, she met someone very special who works for LSM. She heard about this man, and knew that if there was ever hope at freedom, this was her chance. She dropped her heavy bucket, and ran up to him.

 

“I’m tired of carrying water,” she breathlessly said. “Please, help me!”

 

TODAY, VELINDA KNOWS THE BEAUTY OF FREEDOM.

 

 

LSM was able to negotiate with the family that Velinda had been living with. She was rescued out of that horrible situation, and is now thriving in her Home of Hope family! She no longer carries water from the river, working 12-14 hour days. Instead, she is experiencing true freedom and love in a nurturing family. But most importantly, she knows about the true living water, found in Jesus Christ!

 

Because of the opportunities she has today, Velinda can go to college, get a good paying job and provide for her own family someday. These are dreams she never imagined as a child slave ten years ago.

 

 

ARE YOU WILLING TO LISTEN TO A DESPERATE CRY FOR HELP?

 

We long for all vulnerable children like Velinda to have the freedom to grow as a valued child of God. We want them to know their worth, find healing and love, and have the chance to reach their full, God-given potential.

 

Freedom is a gift. And it’s one we can give together.

 

 


GET INVOLVED:

  1. Help rescue children forced into child slavery in Haiti. Order your copy of Ed’s book “A Rose Among Thorns” to learn more about their plight and help rescue children like Velinda.
  2. Become a Prayer Partner and receive bi-monthly updates from LSM on specific ways to intercede.
  3. Spread the Gospel message of FREEDOM in Haiti through the Gospel Project.

 


*name changed for privacy

REDEMPTION

excerpt from page 35, Glimpses of Hope, a collection of devotionals

Doug Isch, LSM President


 

Rose’s day started out like any other on January 10, 2010. But unlike the rest of the routine days of her eight-year-old life, this day would change the course of her life forever. At 4:53 pm the walls began to shake as a 7.0 magnitude earthquake shook Port au Prince, Haiti and the surrounding regions until an estimated 300,000 people were killed and over a million people were forced from their homes. Tragically, Rose’s parents were both killed in the earthquake. As her world turned upside down she was moved nearly five hours away to live with an aunt.

 

 

Rose doesn’t talk much about the events of that day or how she dealt with the grief that had to grip her. How does an eight-year-old process this kind of devastation and loss? For many living in extreme poverty this would have been one more chapter in a life of disappointment and loss, but Rose’s story takes an unexpected twist. Unbeknownst to her, thousands of miles away a young man named Zach Bertsch was diagnosed with terminal cancer at almost the same time she moved in with her aunt.

 

Zach’s heart and passion was to redeem his cancer for God’s glory. Rose is one part of that redemption story. Rose was selected to become a part of the Moriah Home of Hope family on the Redemption Campus. Rose is now going to school, attending church, growing up with a new mom and dad and has 11 sisters to live life with.

 

 

To redeem something means to free it from what distresses or harms it.

 

Major steps have been taken in Rose’s life to free her from the pain and distresses she has experienced. But her past is still her past and she will always have tragedy as part of her story. As we have seen many times, God uses the pain of the past to help us become more like Jesus. Rose’s story won’t fully be redeemed until Jesus returns and God finally wipes all the tears from our eyes. What we see now are some of the first fruits of that redemption story. I am so excited for Rose to see her parents again and introduce them to the couple who raised her in their place and to meet Zach and share with him the beauty that was brought from the tragedies of both of their lives.

 

Revelation 7:17 – “For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all the tears from their eyes.”

 


GET INVOLVED:

  1. Order your copy of Glimpses of Hope here.
  2. Learn more about the ongoing work of the Redemption Campus and our Homes of Hope here.

 

POLLY

Sometimes there are stories that hit you square between the eyes. Polly’s* is one of them.

 

Several years ago, Polly stood here with her uncle who was caring for her in front of his hut. Falling apart, dirty, barely providing relief from the elements, the hut was no place to be raising an orphaned little girl. He knew it, and he wanted more for her. However on his own, there was no way he could do anything.

 

 

Polly’s uncle brought her to a Home of Hope. He knew that she’d be much better off in a family with Godly upbringing from a loving mom and dad and a solid education. The love and opportunity she’d have was a gift that he would never be able to provide. And so she came.- a forlorn little girl in a tattered white dress with orange-bleached hair from malnutrition. A new world opened for Polly!

 

 

A couple of years later, I snapped this picture at LSM’s annual VBS. Polly couldn’t stand still. She giggled and joyfully danced around me. Her life is totally different!

 

Sometimes, I think it’s easy for us to forget the before when we see smiling pictures of kids. However, when you know their stories and the traumatic things that have brought them here, this work becomes much more meaningful. There is sense of urgency to help more children like Polly.

 

Today, Polly is able to live and laugh because her uncle made a choice to give her a better life. She has a new mom and dad, loving sisters and an exciting future ahead of her. She can dream and dance without a care in the world, because compassionate people like you have sacrificially given, prayed and showered love on her. Thank you!

 

This is the picture I don’t want to forget. It represents a far greater story than a week of games and fun. The contrast is evident: New life. New stories. New chapters. New beginnings.

 


GET INVOLVED: 

Help make more stories like Polly’s possible by becoming an ongoing sponsor here.


*name changed for privacy

TIMMY

Timmy* is now 8 years old and is excelling in 2nd grade! He still remembers clearly his very first day of school. He was so excited. He got his little uniform on, lovingly took his new notebook and pencils out of his backpack, just to gaze at them for a moment, before tucking them securely back inside and hoisting the bag onto his back.

 

 

Every day in class, Timmy eagerly soaked up the lessons he was taught. And every day after school, his mom, Tabitha, was there to pick him up and listen to the new fidel (Ethiopian Amharic script) he had learned. Timmy wondered why his mom would sometimes cry while he recited his fidel to her.

 

“Why is mom sad I’m learning so many wonderful new things?”

 

 

His mother’s tears were not of sadness. They were tears of great joy and thankfulness!

 

Tabitha birthed Timmy in one of the slums of Addis Ababa. They were both desperately hungry, and Timmy almost starved to death in his first few precious weeks. Life had been filled with poverty and hardships for Timmy’s mother…until she came to LSM.

 

 

Because of your love, prayers, financial support and advocacy, Timmy and his mother’s story has changed. Your actions showed that their lives were worth more!

 

Tabitha began working for Moriya Ethiopian Accessories, a business we helped start for a group of impoverished moms. Using the skills she learned as part of the Moriya team, she has since branched out on her own. Today, Tabitha owns a successful sewing business. She is providing for her son with a dignified, stable job. She is remarried and expecting a baby.

 

 

Timmy is no longer hungry and hopeless. He has continued to excel in school and dreams about his future with excitement! He loves his new dad, and is anxiously awaiting his new sibling.

 

Timmy and his mother are a living example for those in their community. Their lives display hard work ethic, leadership and an overflowing love of Christ!

 

Most importantly, little Timmy knows the hope of a life filled with the love of Jesus, because people like you believed he and his mother were worth it! Thank you for making a difference!


GET INVOLVED: 


*names changed for privacy

HOUSE OF WONDERFUL, GREAT LOVE

By Becky Browning, LSM Staff in Haiti

 

When I was a little girl, every picture that I drew of our house had a happy smiling sun above it. I used my red crayon and made big smiles on my dad, my mom and us four little girls. We were lined up next to our little dog. He too had a smile drawn on his fluffy face. I drew colorful flowers around my pretty house, and warm smoke coming out of the chimney. Inside the smoky clouds, written in my best handwriting were these words: “House of Wonderful Great Love.” It was a picture of my childhood. I felt loved, happy and secure tucked away in my safe home with my family all around me.

 

 

 

35 years later, my husband and I walked through a village in Haiti. There was a much different picture. Crying toddlers with distended bellies, sitting in front of a crooked hut, diaper-less babies covered in itching scabies and skinny stray dogs digging in piles of trash. Food and water was scarce. And hope seemed even more scarce. I did not see many smiling faces. What words would be written over their homes?

Hungry? Sad? Despair? Hopelesness?

 

 

It caused me to think, “What if our lives were switched? What would I want?” I would want food and clothing. I would want someone to love and care about me. I would want someone to take me to the doctors when I am sick. I would want to feel safe. And most importantly, I would want someone to care beyond this earthly life and introduce me to Jesus.

 

 

This is what Loving Shepherd Ministries does. There are many vulnerable children who need homes of “wonderful great love.” We call them “Homes of Hope.” We would love to have you partner with us and support one of our Homes.

 

 


GET INVOLVED:

 

  1. Learn more about our unique model that provides a complete Continuum of Care for vulnerable children from childhood through adulthood – within the love and stability of a FAMILY.

 

  1. Become a Family Sponsor (min $35/month) and partner directly with vulnerable children you can get to know!

 

LEARNING TO LISTEN

excerpt from page 159, Glimpses of Hope, a collection of devotionals

by Gabriel Walder


 

When my wife Lindsay and I decided to become foster parents, I was excited, nervous, skeptical, and afraid. She came to me with the idea out of nowhere one day. I knew very little about foster care and even less about what it was like to become a foster parent. I mainly had negative images in mind when it came to the “system.” Kids in and out of care, parents who don’t care, or do care but cannot overcome their problems, under-resourced agencies, a faceless governmental structure that at the end of the day just wanted to do what was easiest, not what was best. So needless to say, when she approached me about whether we should become foster parents by initial gut reaction was “no.”

 

 

At the time, I worked for Loving Shepherd Ministries and I care about vulnerable kids, but to invite them into my home to live with me, eat my food, mess up my living room and sleep schedule was a next level calling.

 

Nevertheless, I agreed to go to the training sessions just to see what it was like. After hearing about the intensity of the need in my own backyard and the lack of good homes, the weight of the problem began to lay on my shoulders. I knew I was being called to stand up. I knew we had a God who cared about the afflicted and fatherless and He was calling me to care alongside Him.

 

Psalm 10:14 – “But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted; you consider their grief and take it in hand. The victims commit themselves to you; you are the helper of the fatherless.”

 

 

After a whirlwind of training sessions, physicals, home studies, and background checks we received a call for our first placement before we had even received our license in the mail. On the other end of the line they said there was a little boy named Isaiah who was four months old at the hospital that needed a home. We had 30 minutes to decide. Lindsay drove to pick him up. When she arrived, she was surprised to find a little boy named Martell who was only two months old. It brings tears to my eyes to say that this little boy is almost three years old now and has been my officially adopted son for the last six months. He is one of the biggest joys of my life and I don’t want to imagine my life without him in it.

 

The moral of the story is that if God (and your wife) are calling you to something, you would be wise to listen.

 


 

GET INVOLVED:

  1. Learn more about foster care and adoption here.
  2. Pray for the families considering adoption and foster care in your church and community.
  3. Order your copy of Glimpses of Hope here.

 


 

HAITI’S FLAG DAY 2019

Haiti celebrates FLAG DAY on May 18. It’s an important day of celebration for the country as they remember their hard-won independence!

 

 

 

The Haitian flag features a full coat of arms with weapons representing their nation’s history defending their freedom. The royal palm at the center symbolizes their independence. They are the first nation of Africans to ever rise up and win freedom for their country.

 

 

 

Our Home of Hope families celebrated in their communities too. We love that our kids are learning about their rich cultural heritage from a young age. While Haiti still has a lot to overcome, we hope they always feel freedom to celebrate their flag and the good of what that represents. Though there are dark and painful pieces to their cultural history as well, knowing the good and bad helps the next generation learn from their country’s experiences.

 

We hope days like this (and our staff, parents and mentors) will empower our children to become the next generation of leaders who will help transform their culture for Christ! 

 

 

 

If you’re not familiar with Haiti’s difficult history, you’re not alone. In fact, LSM’s Founder, Ed Schwartz wrote a historical novel depicting the rise of Haiti for just that reason! The Trade Winds was written to help us understand the complexity and history of Haiti and where it is today. It also gives us a passion to help vulnerable children (like the ones we serve!) who have been trapped in ongoing slavery (restavek system) to this day.

 

 

Learn more and order your copy of THE TRADE WINDS today!

IN BROKENNESS AND BEAUTY, IT IS WELL

Reflection from CAFO Summit 2019

 

 

Last week, we gathered with over 2,000 believers around the world to encourage and grow our passion for the orphan at CAFO Summit 2019. Jedd Medefind, President of CAFO, introduced the theme, IN BEAUTY & BROKENESS, IT IS WELL. He said, “If you open yourself up to the orphan, you are opening yourself up to this brokenness. You will be required to carry some of it with them.”

 

It is precisely in our weakness that God’s strength and power are displayed. The Apostle Paul talks about this in Philippians 3:8-14:

 

“But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith – that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.”

 

 

In light of this, Medefind and others at CAFO encourage us to consider this thought, “What if we have our vision of success wrong?” In Hebrews 11, great heroes of our faith are highlighted for their mighty victories – and also for those who were faithful despite unrealized expectations, desires and dreams.

 

God REDEFINES our success. Our success as orphan advocates, adoptive families – or whatever ministry role you find yourself in – is not successful based on amazing outcomes or accomplishments. God is far more pleased with our willingness to be FAITHFUL to Him and the ministry He has called us to than He is concerned with our ability to achieve a certain set of outcomes through it.

 

This thought from an article at the conference resonated with me: “Faithfulness is our success. Everything after that is the mercy of God doing what only He can do.”

 

“But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 3:13-14

 

May you be encouraged and challenged as you reflect on where God is calling YOU to be faithful in His kingdom work.

 


GET INVOVLED:

  1. Subscribe to our blog (see above!) to keep in touch with our weekly stories and updates.
  2. Join our prayer team and receive bi-monthly prayer emails.

 

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