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.

 

SHARING THE GOSPEL IN HAITI

Our faith guides everything we do at LSM. It has fueled our hearts for the vulnerable and caused us to go deep with the children we serve to provide holistic healing and growth. We continue to provide new opportunities so each child can reach their full, God-given potential.

 

 

Last year, we introduced The Gospel Project to help teach our kids in Haiti more about sharing their faith and modeling the compassion of Jesus. Gospel kits are packaged in the States by volunteers and sent to Haiti where our families are able to reach out in their communities and share God’s love.

 

The love and support of many of you through LSM has allowed these children to find personal relationships with Jesus. Now, it’s something they are excited to share with others! The gospel kits allow them to build relationships and pray for their neighbors. As a result, individuals are learning about Jesus and giving their hearts to Him!

 

 

This month, as one family shared kits in their community, they were able to pray with a neighbor who accepted Christ!

 

 

What an extra blessing to see the ripple effects of our work with individual children! Imagine what God can do as this grows and 240 children who are passionate about Jesus are reaching out in their communities!

 


GET INVOLVED:

  1. Learn more about opportunities your group can bring to The Gospel Project.
  2. Schedule a tour of the Haiti Education Wing at the LSM Offices.
  3. Pray for those receiving Gospel kits and for our children as they grow in their faith and boldness with evangelism!

 

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.

 

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

 

 

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

Orphan Sunday & Beyond

“A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families.” – Psalm 68.5-6

ORPHAN SUNDAY AT LSM

On Orphan Sunday, we opened our doors to the community and brought out all the holiday cheer for one clear purpose. We stood with believers all over the world to share God’s heart for the orphan. As people flooded in, they experienced vulnerable children’s stories of great pain that, for these few, has turned into incredible joy.

From tasting traditional foods of Doro Wat (Ethiopia) and Kremas (Haiti) to petting a live goat and chicks, we provided a small chance to step into the lives of these children around the world.

This hope is made possible because of people just like you who give from your blessings to help these children find love in a stable family. You make it possible for children to receive an education and healing from their trauma. You make it possible for them to go on to college and get good jobs. Ultimately, you make it possible for these children to change their cultures for Christ.

 


FAMILY SPONSORSHIP

But this story goes far beyond one day a year. One of the best ways to connect with these precious children even more is through our Family Sponsorship program. As a Family Sponsor, you will be connected to an entire family in Haiti (or Ethiopia) where you have access to an Online Family Room (including regular stories, updates, pictures and information about their culture and daily life.)

 

Learn more about how you can invest in one of our Home of Hope families HERE.

 


GIFTS OF HOPE

 If you’d like to help a child thrive by making a one-time gift, we have a variety of opportunities through our Gifts of Hope Christmas Catalog.

 

View the catalog here.

 

 


 

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

Baking Cakes & Dreaming Big

Kathrine* is like many 16 year old girls you might know. She loves to bake cakes with her mom. She looks forward to summer camp with her friends and enjoys singing. She’s excelling in school and working hard to do well. Kathrine is full of life and talent, and we’re thrilled for the direction she’s going in life.

 

 

But it hasn’t always been this way. When Kathrine was a very small child, she realized quickly to get out of her father’s way when he arrived home drunk. She hid in the shadows to avoid another beating. Things got worse when her mother died unexpectedly. Her dad said he couldn’t afford to send her to school. Kathrine couldn’t help but think it was somehow her fault that so many things were bad in her life. Abuse, fear and hopeless days felt like they would never end.

 

 

But God saw her pain. Eventually, Kathrine’s dad was unable to care for her at all. She needed somewhere to go, and God provided an open door for her to come to an LSM Home of Hope that was opening! Kathrine joined her new family. Her loving parents protect her and treat her with great love. She’s catching up in school from her late start. It’s within this family that Kathrine is learning, growing and ultimately finding the safety and security she needs to thrive.

 

 

Kathrine’s biggest joy is being introduced to a personal relationship with Jesus! She talks about how He has been with her, even in those dark days before coming to her Home of Hope family. She finds a lot of peace singing and spending time with her church youth group. We give God the glory for this wonderful transformation!

 

Baking cakes with her mom might seem like a small thing – but it’s a beautiful picture of the healing, hope and love that she knows today. And we bet those cakes are pretty delicious!

 


Get involved:

  1. Become a family sponsor and get to know children like Kathrine through some amazing personal connections.

*name changed for privacy

Summer Highlights from Haiti

This summer was full of great activities for our Homes of Hope! Here are a few highlights:


Summer Internships

Six of our older Home of Hope kids had internships this summer! Five children spent the summer working at LSM’s Nouvelle Aube Grocery store, and one interned with our architect, Jose. We’re thankful for the amazing opportunities these young adults had!

 

Field Trips & Picnics

Our Haitian staff arranged a field trip for several Home of Hope children who excelled in school this year. They had a fun day at the beach, exploring a cave, and visiting a nearby village. There are many Bible contests and soccer tournaments that Home of Hope children participate in at VBS. The winners were treated to a picnic as a reward!

 

 

Parent Seminars

Jean Wesly, our new Trauma Healing Coordinator, held a parent seminar to continue teaching our parents about the effects of trauma in their children’s lives. There were helpful discussions and testimonies as parents shared what has worked well for them. These quarterly seminars are crucial for our Home of Hope parents in equipping them, and helping them feel supported in their parenting!

 

 

Leadership Camps

Seventeen older Home of Hope kids visited LSM Tech for our first annual Leadership Camp. They toured LSM’s Industrial Site, Block Plant and Ag Park. They heard motivational speakers and even worked on their own public speaking skills. We’re excited to see how events like this can aid and support these young adults as they reach adulthood!

 


This work is crucial to our mission: equipping children to reach their full, God-given potential. But we can’t do it without you. Here are three ways you can get involved:

  1. Join the prayer team.

  2. Become a Family sponsor.

  3. Give a one-time gift.


 

You can also keep up to speed on the big things happening at LSM through our Monthly Ministry Updates and Newsletters! If you’re not currently subscribed, do that here.

 


 

Haiti VBS 2018

The kids had a blast. The parents swapped stories and encouragement with each other. Our Haitian staff pulled off an amazing week at our 9th annual VBS!

Here are a few highlights of this much-anticipated week!

 

A DREAM FOR HAITI

The Torbeck Home of Hope performed a skit one night called, “A Dream for Haiti.” They dream that someday, all people will meet – nurses, lawyers, agronomists – with one goal to save Haiti. People won’t need to go to Chile, Brazil or Argentina, but will join hands as one,  serving together. They gave thanks to God, LSM and the staff in the US and all those who support the work to make their families possible.

What a beautiful vision! We pray this dream becomes a reality through these amazing kids!

 

SOCCER TOURNAMENTS

These soccer games are intense and so fun for everyone to watch! This year, it included some of the younger staff willing to take on the older boys at a couple of homes. It’s so good to see the parents and staff having fun with the kids, and deepening their relationships.

 

MENTORS & TALKING ABOUT THE FUTURE

Erve and Jean Wesly, two of our Haitian staff who attended college in the States, shared a talk with the older kids on “How to Choose your Career.” They were well received. The kids really appreciated the insights of successful men who are working hard to improve their country. We are so blessed with countless great examples in our staff that are mentoring our kids as they grow up.

 

GAMES, BIBLE QUIZZES, WORSHIP, GOSPEL STORIES AND SHARED MEALS

 

VBS is not only their highlight of summer, but also a beautiful reminder of the transformation  these children have experienced in their short lives. We hope you enjoy seeing them grow up in these photos too!

 


Get involved:

  1. Become a family sponsor, and be partnered with a specific Home of Hope family.
  2. Give a one-time gift to Haiti to help us continue to provide these amazing camps at VBS and shorter events throughout the year.
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