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.

 

Adoption in 2019

“Adoption is a journey of faith, from beginning to end.” – Johnny Carr

 

Every year, our adoption staff updates the ever-changing resources and information about agencies, countries and types of adoption so we can best serve the hundreds of people who come to LSM to learn about their options in adoption or foster care.

 

 

A QUICK LOOK AT ADOPTION IN 2019

 

Whether you are interested in adopting or not, please pray for families considering these realities and the children effected by these statistics.

 

INTERNATIONAL ADOPTION

 

International adoption continues to trend down. In 2018, only 4,059 children were adopted. That’s a 13% decrease from the year before, and a 82% decrease since 2004! (source) LSM will help you find the country(ies) your family is eligible to adopt from, and provide a list of reputable organizations working in those countries.

 

If you’re considering an international adoption, it’s best to be prepared for a 2+ year wait, spending between $30,000 – $45,000 and bringing home a child at least 2 years old with some level of special needs.

 

 

DOMESTIC ADOPTION

 

If you’re considering an infant domestic adoption, expect a wait of 1-2 years and expenses to be around $43,000 when all the fees are done. (source) The more open you are to gender, race, special needs or drug exposure, the more likely you are to find a match. You should also expect some level of an “open” adoption – meaning that the birth mother will have some kind of involvement in the child’s life. Costs and details vary depending on the agency you choose.

 

FOSTER CARE

 

Reunification is always the first priority in the Foster Care system, so if you walk into this process looking to adopt, you will need to keep an open mind. Children coming into your home often have trauma exposure, attachment issues, have suffered abuse or been exposed to alcohol or drugs.

 

There is a huge need for Foster families who are willing to open their homes and hearts to vulnerable children in the States. What a beautiful opportunity to share the Gospel with these children AND their bio families!

 

IS YOUR FAMILY CONSIDERING ADOPTION OR FOSTER CARE? WE CAN HELP.  

 

We know the road can be daunting! Our knowledgeable staff is here to help you navigate the many decisions ahead. We provide FREE, personalized information and support as you consider the best options for your family. You start with a simple online assessment form. From there, the process looks like this:

 

 

It’s our prayer that many families like yours will answer the call to care for vulnerable children. Through the difficult scenarios, we have seen countless stories of God’s goodness as He knits families together!

 


GET INVOLVED:

 

  1. Interested in learning more about how LSM can help you walk through the adoption process all FREE of charge? Start here.

 

  1. Pray for a family you know who might be considering adoption! The task ahead of them is great, both financially, emotionally and spiritually as they raise a child who has come from hard places. Consider how you can support a family you know who is fostering or adopting in your church or community!

 

  1. Support our Home of Hope families in Haiti where a Haitian couple has brought 12 vulnerable children into their family! Learn more here.

 


 

THREADS OF HOPE

A baby boy was born in a rural village in Ethiopia. Baby Meleke* curled his tiny fingers around his mother’s pinky. A difficult life was ahead of this little one. Just a few months earlier, his mom Shali* went to Arat Kilo, a slum area of Ethiopia’s capital in search of new opportunities. It was only temporary until she could find work. Everything changed when she got a boyfriend and soon found out she was pregnant. But he wanted nothing to do with baby Meleke. He walked out—never to be heard from again. Alone and scared, this young mom was left to fend for herself and the life growing inside her womb.

 

 

With no income, no support, and a child to care for, how would they survive?

 

For the next few years, life became more and more desperate. Shali did whatever she could to feed her son, but there was never enough. School was out of the question for Mekele. They were just trying to survive. There was very little chance that they would ever be able to break out of this cycle of poverty. Despair and hopelessness began to settle in.

 

 

But this is not a story of despair. God used LSM to bring hope to this precious family!

 

One day, Shali and Mekele were introduced to LSM. Our staff shared the love of Jesus with them. Today, they are thriving in the LSM trauma healing program. Through LSM, Shali learned how to weave. She is a talented artisan and runs her own business. Because they now have an income, Mekele can attend school. They are surrounded by women and children who love and care for them. A mother’s life was redeemed, and the fruits of this transformation have been passed on to her child. What once appeared to be bleak strands of pain and hopelessness have been woven together with threads of hope and love. A beautiful tapestry created for the glory of God!

 

 

Right now, there are countless moms and children suffering like Shali and Mekele once did. Will you help us reach them with the hope and love of Jesus?

 


GET INVOLVED:

  1. Purchase a Moriya Ethiopian Accessory purse where 100% of the profits go back into our Ethiopia programs.
  2. Give a one-time gift to help families like Shali and Mekele’s thrive.
  3. Pray that God would continue to open doors for our ministry expansion in Ethiopia.

 

*name changed for privacy

YOU DON’T HAVE TO WALK THIS ROAD ALONE

The monthly Ethiopia Program updates was looking pretty standard. It was full of positive conversations and new things the team wanted to accomplish. Over 40 families in Ethiopia have access to some incredible programs that are helping single mothers provide for their kids.

 

And then my eyes caught on one word… CANCER.

 

 

Two moms were diagnosed with cancer in the last month. Another young mom lost partial vision in both eyes. I wish I could take away those words and the weight they carry for their sweet families, but I can’t.

 

These precious mommas have faced some terrible things in their life already. They’ve had to make the heartbreaking choice between feeding their child and sending them to school. It’s unbearable to think about life as a single mom in one of the hardest places in the world, deeply entrenched in generational poverty with a stigma around their shoulders. I place myself in their shoes for a moment and imagine  what this diagnosis would feel like and what this means for their children.

 

BUT THEN I’M REMINDED… THEY AREN’T WALKING THIS ROAD ALONE!

 

 

In the last three years, these families have all entered the LSM program in their village. It’s enabled their children to go to school. It’s given them food stipends so they don’t have to worry about whether or not they can feed their children. LSM has helped them start their own businesses and walked alongside them so they can succeed. We have watched these families make huge progress. Beyond all of that though, they’ve connected to a local church and are mentored by volunteers in their community on a regular basis. They have support groups that they’ve started in their own communities. Their fear and stigma have faded and they’ve gained confidence in themselves.

 

 

Cancer, blindness and the pain they’ve faced isn’t fair, but they know we will walk alongside them in this season of their journey just like we have in the last season. Despite the ravages of sickness, poverty and sin in this world, there is a big God who is above it all!

 

And in the middle of our mess, we can point each other to Jesus, take each other’s hand and say simply, “You don’t have to walk this road alone.”

 


GET INVOLVED:

  1. Help us support families like this in Ethiopia as a family sponsor.
  2. Pray for these three moms who are suffering from cancer and blindness.
  3. Learn more about our work in Ethiopia here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

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.
Read More

Seeing Hope in Africa

Visiting missionaries can be a huge blessing. Blare and Janel Gerber and their kids experienced this first-hand. Just before Christmas, they packed up their four children, and took off on an adventure to Africa to visit a missionary family working in a village in rural Ethiopia. On their way through the capital, the Gerbers asked if they could meet with some of LSM’s staff and families to see our work first hand.

 

 

This trip is one that their family will never forget. Beyond the sights and sounds of a new culture, there’s nothing like seeing how your dollars and prayers are being used for His glory. Meeting Tegen* was one of those moments.

 

 

Tegen welcomed the Gerber family into her little home. She served them strong Ethiopian coffee from her little black pottery cups. Next, she taught the children how to have a traditional coffee ceremony. Our staff translated each step. Tegen’s large sewing machine sat in the corner, taking up much of the home’s space. The Gerbers were thrilled to listen to her beautiful testimony, and see her thriving sewing business. Beri, her son, proudly displayed his school books. Our staff spoke how well he has been doing in school. A small home business and attending school may seem like mundane things, but for Tegen and Beri, it was an answer to prayer.

 

Janel said, “I think just seeing the way people live in hard life circumstances, but yet have so much joy and purpose really impacted all of us.”

 

 

This trip was foundational in the lives of Blare and Janel and their four children. God is moving around the world, and He calls us to action.  Whether traveling to far off lands or praying from your kitchen table, you have a chance to take part in His kingdom work. We’re grateful the Gerber family got to see a small part of the lives touched with prayers, financial gifts and advocacy for LSM. The Gerbers can testify that Tegen and Beri now live with stability and hope because of your love and support. Thank you!

 


GET INVOLVED:

  1. Become an Ethiopia Family Sponsor and get to know families just like Tegen and Beri.
  2. Become a prayer partner in 2019.
  3. Consider giving a one-time gift to Ethiopia to impact families like this.

 

*names of LSM families changed for privacy

 

 

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

 

Don’t Miss Out!

Vulnerable children around the world would give anything to know the love and security of a family. LSM is passionate about providing just that, however we can’t do it without your prayers, advocacy and financial support.

 

If you’re in the area, we would love to see you at these upcoming events. Would you please join us in praying for the impact of these nights?


 

IL BENEFIT AUCTION (OCT 12)

 

This Friday, our Central IL friends and family will gather at Five Points Washington for a benefit auction. Each dollar raised will help in making a tangible difference in hundreds of lives! Learn more here and please pray with us.

 

Friday, Oct 12

Starting at 5:30 pm

Five Points Washington, 360 N Wilmor Rd, Washington, IL 61571

 


 

ORPHAN SUNDAY (NOV 11)

 

Churches around the world are uniting in prayer, advocacy and action on Sunday, Nov 11 for Orphan Sunday. We hope you’ll join us for a family-friendly event where you will have the opportunity to step into Haiti and Ethiopia, and walk in an orphan’s shoes. Enjoy a petting zoo and LIVE Gifts of Hope Christmas Catalog experience, do some Christmas shopping and visit our Family Sponsorship Christmas tree. It is our hope that these events will help you connect to the heart of the orphan, and make a real difference! Learn more here and please pray for this global movement to stir many hearts for the vulnerable!

 

Sunday, November 11

4 – 7 pm

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

 

If you can’t make the event, you can still participate!


 

Take Action:

  1. Sign up for our emails and don’t miss updates and future events.
  2. Join our prayer emails.
  3. You can still give if you can’t make it to an event. Partner here.

 


 

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