Johnny & Mekdes – A Staff Testimony

Johnny and Mekdes are part of our Ethiopian Team. They are passionate about empowering families through their ministry with LSM and with the valuable support of many volunteers from the local church. Together, we are empowering over 30 single mothers and their children in a local village with education, counseling, small business training and physical support. Johnny and Mekdes also have their own ministry- strengthening marriages and counseling families.

 

There’s a reason why this couple is so passionate about seeing families thrive.

 

 

Both Johnny and Mekdes grew up in an orphanage and didn’t receive the nurture and love they know is so vital for children to experience in a family. Johnny was five years old when he went to the orphanage. Mekdes was eight. After their fathers died, their mothers felt that they had no choice but to send them somewhere else with the hopes they could survive and maybe receive an education. The huge government orphanage they found themselves in was a necessary reality.

 

Growing up in an orphanage was better than many children received in the poverty – striken country, but it wasn’t perfect. This massive institution was home to 5,000 – 7,000 children at any given time. There was only one caregiver for every 50+ children. Not surprisingly, this led to many hardships for the children growing up without parental guidance or support.

 

They say, “Our passion for nurturing healthy families began with our own experience of growing up without ‘divine family love.’” 

 

Mekdes talking to women in our family today

 

Mekdes shares about their life there, “The government orphanage gave us a lifestyle that was so much better than the rest of society, but we didn’t know that the people around us were in deep poverty.”  Because of their opportunity to live in the orphanage, they received up to a high school education and were able to experience things that many in their home villages never could have.

 

 

However, after graduating high school, they had to leave the orphanage, totally unprepared. Except for brief summer trips to visit their mothers, both young adults had lived most of their lives within the walls of the orphanage and had little interaction with the outside world. They didn’t know what poverty and real-life experiences were like. It was a shocking reality when they walked out those doors. Around the same time, the ruling government that had been supportive of their orphanage was ousted. Now, they felt vulnerable without the powerful figure who they always thought would protect them and their country.  Johnny said, “We felt like we were unwanted, resource-wasting and no-good children of the former regime.”

 

Johnny working with vulnerable children today

 

But there was hope! After leaving the orphanage and finding work near their biological families, they discovered a faith in Jesus that changed everything! Although Johnny was abandoned by his family after becoming a Christian, he still says it was the best decision he ever made.

 

“The Holy Spirit touched my heart and brought joy to my soul like I had never experienced before… I raised my heart and hands to Him and He welcomed me with open arms. I felt a very warm love for the first time, and my eyes poured out tears of joy. I had experienced a long journey of orphan life at an orphanage and now I had a chance to say, “’My Father!’ It is still very sweet to my heart!”

 

Later, Johnny and Mekdes reconnected after all those years in the orphanage and got married. They were passionate about serving the Lord together, and felt a call to serve families first.

 

Mekdes recounts,Despite all the blessings we received in the orphanage, our souls missed the natural love of divine family love. Our caregivers are like “professional paid caregivers” but natural parents are like the “loving shepherd” who sacrifices their own life for their sheep. In light of this truth, the vision has grown in our hearts to keep and maintain natural and divine love. Today, we get to provide awareness, training, counseling and empowerment that can save marriages and families for generations to come.”

 

Johnny and Mekdes passing out Christmas supplies to vulnerable families in rural Ethiopia

 

We are so grateful for the passion and experiences that God allowed Johnny and Mekdes to live through that brought them where they are today. Like them, we can look at our life’s tragedies and let them define us for good or for ill. We are so grateful that this couple has chosen to rise above their past, and let it be their legacy for the Kingdom of God!

 


GET INVOLVED:

  1. Learn more about LSM’s vision and FAMILY MODEL that gives every child we serve the love and stability of a family.
  2. Learn more about our work to keep families together in Ethiopia.

 

BEHIND THE PICTURE

With a curious smirk, sporting a vest and tie, you smile and think, “What a cute little boy!”  What isn’t captured is how powerful this moment really is. You see, Obie* had just joined his new Home of Hope family on the very day this photo was taken.

 

 

It was his first day in a new home. His first time ever eating three full meals. His first night sleeping in his very own bed.  It was the first of many new things that he never had before. Pictures can speak a thousand words, but sometimes they miss the powerful significance behind the moment.

 

In one single day, Obie found a family to love him.  He entered a life surrounded by a loving family and a community of people who will champion him and make sure he has every opportunity to become all that God has for him.

 

 

The first picture was taken in 2012 when Obie was seven years old. Over the next seven years, Obie excelled in school, learned about leadership and how to help others. Most importantly, he’s experienced the love and safety of his Heavenly Father through his parents and LSM staff. Obie has big dreams. He wants to be a doctor and help the hurting in his country. We think that’s a noble goal – and wherever this life takes him, we hope that passion for serving others continues to be a driving force in his life.

 


GET INVOLVED:

  1. Become a family sponsor and give this kind of hope to children like Obie.
  2. Learn more about LSM Tech and the future opportunities for Obie.

*name changed for privacy

BEHIND THE SCENES AT THE AUCTION

Saturday evening, the air was lit with excitement at the LSM Benefit Auction in Indiana. We were overwhelmed by the joyful generosity shared throughout the evening! In fact, this auction turned out to be one of our most successful yet!

 

The night went off without a hitch. To the general viewer, it would be easy to miss the dozens of amazing people behind the scenes that make things run so smoothly. Without the countless hours of time and resources that they put into the day, this auction wouldn’t have the impact it does!

 

 

Here’s just a few of the key roles people fill:

 

Our Volunteer Auction Coordinator, Rachel Gerber, pours countless hours into making sure everyone is on track and things are where they need to be. She’s the organizer and key person behind the auction. We couldn’t say enough good about her work and her generous gift of time and skills. As a young mom, she’s got her hands full, but has taken this ministry on with a calm joy. We love that her kids get to be a part of this, too. They are watching their parents give back with their time and talents!

 

“Organizing and planning are things I really enjoy, so getting to do it for a ministry like LSM has been a neat opportunity these last few years. One of my favorite parts is the conversations it has brought about with my kids. They love when they get to go to the LSM building with me and I love the talks we have about children all over the world and what LSM is doing for those children.” – Rachel Gerber, Volunteer Auction Coordinator

 

 

Ben Dailey is a tech guru who developed an auction software for ministries just like ours. He generously gives of his time and talents to help each person’s giving experience run smoothly.

 

 

Our Auctioneers arrive the night of the auction, and help spread excitement and a deep sense of purpose. Isaac Stoller, a young auctioneer who did a phenomenal job on Saturday, shares a little of what that means to him:

 

“Having the opportunity to be an Auctioneer at the LSM Benefit Auction is an honor and a very rewarding experience. Watching the community come together to raise funds to support the care of vulnerable children is truly amazing! I feel blessed to be a small part of a great event that I care so much about. I look forward to helping this great cause again in the future.” Isaac Stoller, Auctioneer

 

 

Many served in the kitchen and fed hundreds of people in 2 hours. Dozens of others made pies, soup and served food to guests during the event.

 

“What a privilege to help organize and then stand back and watch so many people working together to Glorify God by helping the children of Haiti.” – Jill Fiechter, Volunteer Kitchen Coordinator

 

 

We wanted to say a heartfelt THANK YOU to all who came, gave, worked and served! This auction would not have been possible without your help! These are just a few of the voices behind the scenes that make events like this possible. We hope it’s a reminder to you too that we all have a part to play in God’s work to care for the vulnerable. Maybe you’re really organized and can join a coordinating team, or perhaps you really enjoy putting together gift baskets for donations. Or maybe you’ve been extra blessed financially and can make a generous matching grant opportunity that encourages others to give just a little bit more (which we were so blessed with this year!)

 

Whatever God has gifted you with, we hope you’re encouraged to find ways to maximize your talents for His Glory!

 

 


GET INVOLVED:

  1. Didn’t get a chance to be at the Auction? You can make a donation here instead!
  2. Check out our GET INVOLVED page, and let us know how you’d like to serve with LSM.

 

RIOTING IN HAITI: THE CURRENT SITUATION

“Finally, the country has received some calm Monday, but we want to hear the final decisions of the heads of state of the country. The traffic was painful, then every 500 meters the protesters burned tires, totally preventing the way. Fear was everywhere. We rely a lot on the help of your prayers and hope that everything will be better in the coming days.” – Abdias, LSM Haitian Staff Member

 

 

Abdias’ words sum up much of the feelings from our Haitian staff. Over the last 12 days, mass rioting and road blocks across the country have left people with no choice but to stay indoors, unable to work, go to school or buy food. We thank God that today, things seem to be getting back to normal in Les Cayes.

 

Our staff is back to the office and markets are re-opening. Rioting continues in Port au Prince. Fuel is not able to be transported to Les Cayes, creating a shortage. The calm in Les Cayes is a temporary reprieve since the bigger problems in the country remain unsolved.

 

 

Becky Browning and her family have been in Haiti with LSM for the last several weeks and shared this, “While it is quiet in this house, it is not quiet outside. Roadblocks have been set up. Cars and tires are burning all over the country. Businesses, banks, gas stations and schools are closed. We’ve heard gun shots and yelling. Haiti is in crisis. The people are hurting and want answers from their government. We are praying for sustaining peace and a resolution for this country that is so dear to our hearts.”

 

WHAT HAVE THE RIOTS BEEN ABOUT?

 

“A riot is the language of the unheard.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

As is often the case in societies where people feel unheard and have few options for reform, Haiti has a long history of manifestations, or protesting, like the kind we’ve seen recently. There are few other viable ways for Haitians to voice their frustration with the government.

 

Over the last couple of years, Haitians have been navigating cost of living increases by as much as 50%. This increase puts a strain on many already living in desperate poverty. It has a downstream effect on our Homes of Hope and ministry costs in country, as well as the personal lives of our Haitian staff and their families.

 

The recent riots over the last several days are protesting this and how the government is handling the situation, particularly President Moise who came to power after a failed electoral process and shaky election, is handling the situation. Read more here: Haiti On Edge from IPA Institute for Public Accuracy

 

Protests have been off and on since July but escalated to another level on February 7. You can read more about this from a post we shared in July 2018.

 

AN UPDATE ON OUR STAFF AND FAMILIES

 

Our Home of Hope families have been safe with plenty of supplies at their homes. Our staff returned to the office today, and it seems like things are calming down in Les Cayes. We are grateful that everyone has been well, although scared for the past several days.

 

 

HOW YOU CAN PRAY

  • Please keep praying for safety and peace for our Home of Hope families and staff.
  • Pray that the country can find resolutions to the rising food and cost of living expenses.
  • Pray for the many people suffering during these riots.
  • Pray that believers in Haiti would reach out with the love of Jesus to their neighbors and be beacons of hope in the darkness.

 

Bringing Healing from Trauma

In 2018, LSM launched an exciting new program in Haiti – and now Ethiopia too! The Trauma Healing Program is equipping LSM’s children with the tools they need to heal from their difficult pasts. Ultimately, we hope each child can become emotionally and socially competent adults who will help others find healing too!

 

WHY IS ADDRESSING TRAUMA SO IMPORTANT?

 

Our children come from difficult stories. Every child in our care has suffered loss, pain and heartache, whether from the death of a parent, crushing poverty or abuse. Many have suffered significant traumas. Although a loving family, education and physical needs are provided, we also see the deep need for emotional and spiritual healing. This new program is already having incredible results, for both parents and children.

 

 

Jean Wesly, LSM’s Haiti Trauma Healing Coordinator, says, “When I hear the word ‘change’ some people think it needs to be big. But to me, having simple conversations with the kids, listening to them and praying for them is making a difference in their lives. Protecting our kids is a huge responsibility. We need to make sure our kids feel safe. I will always listen to the kids. Now, we can see day by day change in their lives!”

 

WITHIN THE LAST YEAR, THE TRAUMA HEALING PROGRAM HAS:

 

  1. LAUNCHED QUARTERLY PARENT SEMINARS where parents learn about trauma and its developmental effects. These seminars provide practical tools for parents so they are able to help their children regulate difficult emotions. Our parents are feeling more equipped to handle difficulties at home with their 12 children. It is important that they feel supported in this journey.

 

 

  1. BEGUN MONTHLY SEMINARS FOR THE KIDS IN THE HOMES where the kids are learning how to name and regulate their emotions. Teaching our children healthy ways to express themselves is an important life skill that will aid them in all their relationships. We’ve utilized a variety of biblical training modules to craft lessons that foster communication with staff, parents and children.

 

 

  1. STARTED A PILOT TRAUMA HEALING PROGRAM IN ETHIOPIA where a small group of children in our programs are going through the same curriculum on regular Saturday programs (stay tuned to hear more about this in the future!) This gives us the opportunity to learn and adapt the materials for a different culture.

 

 

We are grateful for the many powerful resources and ministries who have done trainings and shared a wealth of information at the start of this new venture. We are already seeing God’s healing hand through intentional support for each of our families.

 


GET INVOLVED:

  1. Pray specifically for the growth of our Trauma Healing Program in both Haiti and Ethiopia this year! As we implement seminars, lessons and practical tools, pray that God would continue to work through our staff and parents to help bring healing in our children’s lives.
  2.  Give a financial gift to LSM so we can continue to support these life-changing resources for our parents and children to thrive.

 


God’s Hand in Sadie’s Life

Do you remember a time when life felt completely overwhelming, like you could do absolutely nothing to change the whirlwind around you? Imagine that knot in your stomach, the feeling of panic inside as you tried desperately to reach for some sense of normal …

 

That’s exactly how Sadie* felt every day as a child. She was overwhelmed with grief when she lost her mom at a very young age. Her father, who had long ago abandoned their family, never returned. After her mother’s death, Sadie’s grandmother cared for her and her siblings. But it wasn’t long before she realized she didn’t have the resources to take care of that many children. Being the oldest and most likely to survive on her own, Sadie would have to go.
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A Surprise Christmas Gift

“ ‘Maybe Christmas,’ he thought, ‘doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas… perhaps… means a little bit more!” – Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas

 

As Christmas approaches, we’re caught in the last minute hustle and bustle of the holiday fundraising efforts. Something special happened this week that made us pause and smile. A visit from a little girl reminded us how small acts of kindness can be multiplied!

 

 

Eight year old Mylin walked into Loving Shepherd Ministries with something in hand…her very own donation for the Gifts of Hope Christmas Catalog. When Mylin’s family received the catalog in the mail, she saw pictures of children who do not have a dad to provide for them in Ethiopia. Mylin decided she wanted to raise money for them. She made a plan and went to work. She babysat little ones for moms, and helped both her grandmothers clean out their cabinets. She worked hard and saved every dollar until her goal was reached.

 

Mylin’s mom, Rachel, brought her to the office so they could hand-deliver the hardworking, sacrificial gift together. While they were here, we  shared pictures and stories of the families that she’s helping. She was also able to see our Haiti Education Wing and learn more about kids her age who live in many places around the world!

 

We’re celebrating God’s work in the hearts of little girls who are being raised with compassion to care for the least of these. A big thanks to Mylin and her family for remembering these precious moms and kids in Ethiopia this Christmas! Mylin understands that Christmas is about something so much more. We’re grateful for her donation that’s helping bring that message to children in Ethiopia too! Some of the most meaningful gifts can’t be wrapped be in paper. Instead, they are wrapped in love. Thank you, Mylin!

 


GET INVOLVED:

  1. Give a Gift of Hope this Christmas
  2. Schedule your Haiti Education Wing Tour and learn more about the Gospel Project and other volunteer opportunities

 

Change in Jesus’ Name

Firesa* sorts vegetables on a mat and lays them out in pretty patterns along the ground. It’s the weekend, and the sun is beaming along the street. Her sons have come with her today and sit nearby studying their books. She hands them both some fresh veggies for a snack and smiles. This simple act means so much.

 

A DIFFICULT PAST

When Firesa and her two sons came to LSM’s program two years ago, they were in a desperate place. After her husband died, she could not find reliable work to provide for her children. With no formal education of her own, Firesa felt as if she had no good skills to offer. At 11 and 7, her boys never had a consistent education. The family barely had enough food to survive – and every day was focused on doing whatever they could to find something to eat.

 

LSM’S INTERVENTION

Through the loving support of LSM’s staff and local church volunteers, Firesa was able to attend small business development trainings where she received counseling and spiritual discipleship. Mentors helped her start her vegetable market business, which she continues to grow in new areas. LSM provided the funds to send her children to school for the first time. Our staff came alongside with financial support so they could eat and have proper clothing. These practical things displayed the love of Jesus, and showed Firesa that she was not alone.

 

A BRIGHT FUTURE

Firesa and her boys have begun to thrive because of the loving care of the church and LSM staff. No longer hopeless, this widow can now care for her family with dignity. She knows her worth is in Jesus. Today, they have a small home that they call their own. The boys love their English and physics classes, as well as playing with their new friends at school. With enough food in their bellies, they have the energy they need to focus and learn. This family has been shown a great deal of love in Jesus’ name. And it’s changing everything!

 

 

Your support enables us to come together and provide life-changing education, support and basic necessities so families like this can thrive. Without you, none of this is possible. Thank you!

 


 

If you haven’t already, we hope you’ll consider joining us this Christmas to help more families like Firesa’s thrive in Haiti and Ethiopia. This Christmas season, every dollar given will be MULTIPLIED by our matching grant opportunities!

GIVE TODAY.

 


 

*name changed for privacy

Radical Change for the Long-Haul

Four years ago, we shared a video about Hannah. No longer living in fear of voodoo, Hannah is thriving today. See where her journey has taken her!

Hannah is more than a label of orphan or child slave. Her story is one out of 240 children in Haiti who have been rescued, and are now receiving amazing opportunities.

Here’s just a few new projects started in 2018 that are empowering Hannah and other Home of Hope children. Through each effort, these children are equipped to reach their full, God-given potential and ultimately, transform their country for Christ!


TRAUMA HEALING PROGRAM

Jean Wesly and our amazing Child Development team have been hard at work with monthly seminars. The curriculum they are using has been adapted from David C. Cook. This program combines biblical principles, life skills and healing themes of hope to help our kids process their painful pasts.

The team has also developed quarterly seminars for our parents. Several topics have been utilized from “Trauma Competent Caregiving” (Back2Back Ministries), “Empowered to Connect” and other trauma healing programs. Our prayer is that these seminars will enable our parents to best serve their children. Parents are deeply encouraged by these resources and thankful for the intentional support from our staff.


GOSPEL PROJECT

Gospel and hygiene kits have been packed by volunteer groups in the U.S. are now being passed out in Haiti by our Home of Hope families! We are thrilled to see the Gospel shared with each of these kits given in Jesus’ name.


LEADERSHIP TRAINING

This summer marked the first Leadership Camp for our older Home of Hope children at LSM Tech. We are excited for growing opportunities that teach our children the value of hard work, leadership and education. As our kids begin to graduate and move to LSM Tech, we want to equip them with the educational, practical and spiritual tools they need to thrive on their own.

 


SUMMER INTERNSHIPS

Our Business Development efforts are up and running and providing internship opportunities for some of our older children. What a blessing to see how God is moving and developing these efforts that not only teach our kids, but also provide quality, sustainable jobs for hundreds of Haitians.


This Continuum of Care for every child we serve is equipping children with the tools they need to reach their full, God-given potential. We can’t wait to see where Hannah and many others go with this love and support.


Will you join us? We can’t do it without your help. Watch our  2018 year in review here and see how your gift of any amount can be MULTIPIED this Christmas season: https://loving-shepherd.org/2018review/

 

Fruit from the Shadows

A poor, rural farming family had sunk deep into despair. The ground was tough and hard to plough. After hours of backbreaking work, there was little to show for it. Desperation had left them with nothing. Food was scarce. There was never enough to go around. A skinny, quiet little girl went unnoticed in the shadows.

 

Until one day, God led someone to the shadows… and they saw her.

 

 

This malnourished little girl who couldn’t even look you in the eye was brought into a loving Home of Hope family. Her name is Martine*. Her new parents gently showed her love and gave her the opportunity to flourish. A community of teachers, mentors and pastoral staff circled around her, and taught her what she could be.

 

In the last ten years, Martine’s story has taken her far beyond the shadows.

She’s a bubbly teenager who loves spending time with her sisters. She has dreams of building infrastructure and hospitals to help her community. Martine is learning about what it means to be a godly leader, and she’s intrigued. She knows the feeling of hopelessness and she knows what true hope is!

Martine and her sisters recently sang in front of church, “I Want to Bear Fruit.”  It is a song that reflects on John 15. We think it’s a pretty good representation of how she is living today.

 

Jesus said he is the true vine, Christians are the branches.

It cuts off branches that are not fruitful

God help me progress, so I do not throw myself away

I want to grow fruit

Many Christians refuse to bear fruit


God patiently let me grow…. Let me say you never gave up, Oh God!


Let me participate

 

 

 

Someone looked in the shadows and saw Martine’s worth. The little girl who once went unnoticed in the dark is now living in the light of Jesus! This is just one story. Right now, there is another little girl who is fading into hopelessness. Her worth is so much more. Together, we can give her a voice. A future. A life lived on purpose for Christ. Will you join us in bringing this kind of hope to more vulnerable children?

 



Get Involved:

  1. Join our prayer list
  2. Become a family sponsor
  3. Make a one-time gift to support our vision

 


*name changed for privacy

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