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.

 

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

A New Beginning

On January 10, two days after Ethiopia’s Christmas, Biruan* and Greta bounded home from the LSM Christmas party in their rural village. Laughter filled the air as they chattered about the games and Bible lessons they shared. Ten year old Biruan talked about some of the recent discussions kids her class had with LSM staff about finding their identity and purpose.

 

 

Their mother Shashi smiles and thinks about the journey they’ve been on. These conversations and the quick smiles her children show are a far cry from their desperate, gaunt faces only three years ago. You see, after their father suddenly died nearly seven years ago, Biruan and Greta watched their mom struggle to make their small farm sustainable. They never had enough food, and there never seemed to be enough money for them to go to school or get new clothes. Life changed after joining LSM’s programs. For the first time, the whole family experienced relief and true hope.

 

 

The laughter and smiles after a fun Christmas program are just the beginning. Today, Biruan and Greta have enough to eat because of LSM’s support and intervention in their distress. Their mom has gained valuable training on how to run her small farming business effectively so she can provide for their family. The kids are learning in school and are passing classes with top grades! They are enjoying a variety of small group programs with LSM staff and local volunteers. Most importantly, they’re learning about their true identity and hope in Christ – and are seeing it lived out in tangible ways from the LSM staff around them.

 

 

It’s a testimony of hope we believe will change their future – and the future of their community as these kids grow with a heart for Jesus and skills to serve.

 

 

Shashi said, “Your support is bringing light in my life and I am feeling that I found a helper to accomplish my dreams for my children. Before joining the project I didn’t know about saving money. I wasted my money and lend my money to people who couldn’t pay me back. Because of that, I had conflict with many people. Since I have joined the LSM project I have learned how to live with people and also manage and save money. The project’s training, coaching, mentoring has changed me a lot and taught me how to raise my children in ethical and biblical ways.”

 

  


GET INVOLVED:

  1. Become an Ethiopia Family Sponsor and help families like this thrive.
  2. Sign up for our Email list and get regular updates about how we’re serving the vulnerable.
  3. Pray with us this year. Join our bi-monthly prayer emails.

 

*names changed for privacy

 

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

Ethiopia VBS 2018

“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!”  – 1 John 3:1

 

 

Inja* is seven years old, and just completed first grade. She was so excited for our second annual Vacation Bible School this month! Since she and her family joined our programs, Inja has been attending Sunday School and our after-school tutoring programs where she is hearing about Jesus! She has also been learning about responsibility and personal hygiene. When some of our staff and volunteers from the local church set up for camp, she watched intently from the door of the church.  They hung a large banner with these words printed in Oromiffa, (their local language): “Ani Ijoolle Waaqayyoo Dhaa!”  It means, “I’m a Child of God!”  This was the theme for VBS.

 

 

Inja made paper crowns and listened to lessons about God’s love for her each morning. In the afternoon, she had fun playing games with her friends. For five days, Inja heard a consistent message of Jesus’ love for her. We hope it’s a message she will tuck away in her heart.

 

 

Her mom was so thankful to see Inja’s happy smiles after returning home from VBS each day. The prayer of her mother’s heart is that, “God fills my children with wisdom and understanding in school and their faith. I pray that they will be listening, and ready for the doors God opens for them!” We pray that too… for Inja and dozens of other precious children who hear this Gospel message of hope taught in practical, loving ways.  Not just at VBS, but throughout the whole year!

 

 


Get Involved:

  1. VBS is just one thing that we provide for vulnerable families in Ethiopia. Learn more about our work with single moms and their children here.
  2. Become a family sponsor and help families like Inja’s reach their God-given potential.

 


 

*names changed for privacy

You May Never Know the Impact You’ve Had

Your life in the U.S. can have a powerful impact on another person’s life halfway around the world. Sound impossible? Here’s just one of the countless examples how this can happen every day.


 

Ammet is a single mother in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. She grew up in hopeless poverty with no food to eat, no school to attend and no peace in her life. Her father was an abusive alcoholic. She was just 12 years old when she ran away and stayed with her uncle, hoping to finally be able to go to school and have a chance at a better life.

 

Quickly, though, Ammet found herself the forced personal servant to her aunt, who severely abused her. Finally, she escaped, and married a young man, grasping once again at hope for a better life. But things rapidly spiraled further downhill. Ammet suffered more abuse, this time even inflicted upon her child, Aben. To save herself and her son, Ammet fled to the city, forced to forge a way for both of them. Which often meant simply surviving from one day to the next.

 

 

It wasn’t until LSM found Ammet and started working with LSM that a flame of hope was struck in an otherwise dark life of desperate survival.

 

Ammet received small business training so that she could provide for Aben. But the support from LSM was more than the chance at earning a dignified, living wage. More even than having people surrounding her who proved to her that she was worth it. Is this:

 

“Because of LSM, I am now receiving Jesus Christ as my personal Savior. It’s the biggest blessing in my life. One I can pass down to my son.”

 

 

We are here today, helping her child, Aben, now 10 years old, from continuing that cycle of poverty and abuse into the next generation. We are helping to provide stability for their family by connecting them to an active church community, ongoing support and education for Aben. We, arm-in-arm with our donors, are the hands and feet of Jesus in their lives.

 

Here are three things you can do right now to help Ammet and Aben succeed as an independent family filled with dignity and hope:

 


  1. Pray.

Pray for success in Ammet’s small business and confidence in her heart as she leads her family with dignity and hope. Pray for Aben and the life-changing opportunity he has to attend school. Most importantly, pray for his salvation and that his mother would continue to grow in her faith.

 

 

 

 


2. Join us at Seeds of Hope.

Join us on July 8 to hear more about Ammet and other vulnerable families at our SEEDS OF HOPE event. Learn more here.

 

 

 

 

 


3. Become an Ethiopia Family Sponsor.

Become an ongoing Ethiopian Sponsor and change the futures of many families like Ammet and Aben with us! You’ll receive powerful updates like this on a regular basis and see the transformation coming to a new generation in Ethiopia.

 

 

*names changed for privacy

International Women’s Day

Bellame* is a single mom, who struggled for far too long to provide for her children and give them a better life than she’s ever known. Her self-sacrifice is evident.

 

Belaynesh-25

 

She was there when her best friend died in childbirth. In that moment, she didn’t think twice about taking the baby as her own, knowing that if she didn’t the baby would not survive. Her selfless decision is even more incredible considering she was still grieving the loss of her husband, who had just died. Cradling the child in her arms, she had no idea how she would feed this new baby and her other children.

 

Her decision to give when she had nothing in herself took great courage.

 

Through the coming years, as her three children grew, the struggle to put food in their hungry bellies became harder and harder. But Bellame did not give up. She worked in horrifying conditions, started small businesses trying to make ends meet and made the best of the dung-wall loft with a tarp-roof they called home. Coloring book pictures lined the brown walls and a single tapestry covered the single mattress they all shared.

 

But Bellame’s story doesn’t end there. Far from it.

 

Help came in the form of some incredible Ethiopian staff at LSM.

 

Belaynesh-29

 

Today, Bellame is starting a new chapter in life. She lives in a furnished apartment with her children who go to school each morning thanks to the support she receives through LSM. Bellame knows that she can withstand great trials and thrive. She knows she can teach that courage to her own children—and that they can break a cycle of desperation that has crushed her country for far too long.

 

TODAY, ON INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY, WE CELEBRATE ALL WOMEN!

 


Belaynesh-6Children around the world are being raised by courageous women just like Bellame, who are building up their families and giving everything they’ve got to make a better world for the next generation. Others are finding friends, mentors and business leaders in women who have overcome great odds with grace, dignity and hope. These women inspire us to live well and help them succeed.


Learn more about how you can support families like Bellame’s here.

 

 

*name changed for privacy

God’s Work Through You Transforms Families for Him

sherri weavingSherri* is a talented artisan whose intricate weaving skills have been passed down for centuries. Her hands deftly thread the elaborate loom as her feet pump the threads back and forth. There’s a rhythm to her work: pump, swish, clank. A smile graces her face as she watches her son play at the side of the room, surrounded by a community of women and children who love them. They are at peace.

 

 

But life wasn’t always so safe and serene for Sherri and her children.

 

She was just a young girl coming to the city for the first time. The excitement and opportunities captivated her.

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