Thursday, January 27, 2011

So What Is This Trip About?

So what exactly are you going to be doing on your trip Nikki and Christy?

Good question! Thanks for asking.

As always, when traveling to Ethiopia I hold my schedule loosely. I know the things I wish to accomplish, but at the same time I know better than to tell God what I want to accomplish with His people!! But here are some things we are planning on doing while there....

Check on Project 1 - after school program. I'm looking forward to meeting the children in the program. I will be checking on their progress as well as seeing any immediate needs they have. I know there are a couple of students with health issue that I want to check out.

Check on Project 1 - the beauty school. Very much looking forward to meeting these 11 women before they graduate. I want to check on their progress, hear about what they have been learning, and how their lives are different now.

The Keziah Project - I will be doing the groundwork to get The Keziah Project ready to launch. I have two individuals I hope to hire while there. I will bring them each a job description and we will negotiate a salary. Both of these individuals are good friends and I'm very excited to introduce them to you!!

I will also be meeting other NGOs doing similar work and whatever else God has for us to do!  Thanks for all of your prayers and support.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

An update from Endris

In one of the updates that Endris sent this week, he gave a good picture of the joy that we get to feel as partners in Eyes That See.  He wrote about two women and the way that this hairdressing school has changed their entire lives.  Both have recently accepted Christ and are working hard towards graduation.  Here's part of what he wrote.

"The conversion of the two women is very amazing. One of them is HIV+ and working in home care of HIV+ people. She has three children who have no father. The other one is commercial sex worker around Kazanchis (where our office is located). Both have decided to change their life by the skill training we offer and their new life in the Lord.
This is the highlight of what kinds of changes are happening around us. The team here is working all it can, to impact the women skill wise, psychologically and spiritually. We are hoping the Lord to help us a lot."

Thanks for all of your prayers and support.  We are going to be updating you in the following weeks as Nikki sees the project first hand.  Please continue to pray for this project, as well as The Keziah Project as we prepare to open the doors.  .

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Graduation Gifts!

Christy and I will be leaving for Ethiopia in just over 2 weeks. One of the things I am most excited to do while over there is meet the 11 women who are going through the hair salon school. As you know, they are set to graduate in March. We would like to give them a little early graduation present. I thought maybe you would like to be a part of it as well. So I am putting a list together of items we would like to give to each of the girls. We will put these all together in a small cosmetic bag and give it to them while we are there!!

If you are interested in helping out, please send items to any of the following:

Eyes That See
2705 Murray Hill Pike
Louisville, KY 40242

Valleybrook Church (items can be dropped off at front desk or lobby of church (M-Th)
412 S Barstow Street
Eau Claire, WI 54701

Arise For Children (items can be dropped off at this location ( M-Th)
11408 Shelbyville Rd
Louisville, KY 40243

Donations need to be received February 1st.
  • travel size lotions
  • hair accessories
  • small cosmetic bag to put these items in
  • nail clippers
  • nail file
  • chapstick or lip gloss
  • piece of jewelry
  • little notebook and pen
  • picture frame for graduation picture
Thank you so much for your support!! I have to say I LOVE how so many of you are getting your friends involved. It's so fun when I get messages from people I've never met saying a friend of theirs told them about Eyes That See!! You guys are awesome!!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Speaking at Antioch

Hi everyone.  I want to ask you to be praying over the next few hours as I get a chance to speak at Antioch, held at Christ Church on Brownsboro.  I'm excited to share with a few friends that I already know and some that I haven't met yet. We are talking about reconciliation tonight.  Thanks for all of the prayers and support!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Through Christy's Eyes.....

Guest blogger today is Christy Reppe. She is one of my best friends and I get the honor of traveling to Ethiopia again with her very soon! Please take some time to look into her heart.....

I'm going back to Ethiopia. I still can hardly believe it. I traveled to Ethiopia for the first time (and only one so far) in the summer of 2008. I loved it. I loved the people, the children, the experience, and the way in which God used it to open my eyes (I'm still working on loving the food!). I walked away from that trip knowing that God had called me to see the people of Ethiopia.

At the same time, I was about to become Mommy to three precious and hurting little boys from Colombia, and the next two-and-a-half years of my life was going to shake me like nothing else ever has. I've been tempted to believe the lie that I couldn't possibly continue to see Ethiopia while at the same time all of my time and energy was to be poured into my family. I remembered what it felt like to lose a sense of dream and calling that I had experienced in the years before I traveled to Ethiopia. I felt that same fear trying to creep in a number of times saying, "You're going to lose another dream" or "That calling wasn't real - see! You don't even have time to see."

But that's just eyes were open. That's so different than just living feeling like you're "supposed to be doing something" or having a dream of your own. My eyes being open meant that I could live the last year-and-a-half of my life making no trips, volunteering almost no time, devoting my life almost entirely to my family, yet still I could see the people of Ethiopia. This was a new concept for's still a new concept for me. God is still showing me the "how" of seeing while being away. But it's making sense more than ever as I prepare to return, and I know much better now that it is so little about me, and so much more about what I can see when my eyes are open.

I think of Paul in the New Testament, and all the time he spent "away" from people who God had called him to see. The way in which he was able to be present in all the different moments and lives God brought his way, all the while having eyes that remained open to the lives of those he was separated from physically.

If you are like me, and your eyes have been opened to Ethiopia and its people, keep in mind that God intends for your eyes to remain open when you're away. He has much better for us than an emotional high, a great trip, or even the best dream we could ever dream up for ourselves. He is not even slightly limited by the things that may appear to limit us.

I rejoice in knowing that I get to return to Ethiopia in a few weeks, but I think I am even more excited for the new ways I know I will learn to see upon returning home. Please pray that we all continue to discover what it means for us to have Eyes That See.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

We need you!

We are blessed by your support through prayer and financial giving. We truly appreciate it and it is making a huge difference in many lives in Ethiopia. Because of this, we want to do more and continue the work we are doing, but we need your help. We want more and more people in the United States to begin to have Eyes That See. Would you pray about sharing the stories of what God is doing in Ethiopia with your friends, co-workers, your neighbors, family, on facebook and twitter?

It truly is amazing to watch how God is providing and changing lives. You remember the group of women going through the training at the hair salon? Well, they are going to graduate in March. Their lives are being transformed and they are feeling the love of Jesus because of you! Here is a quote from Endris, our Ethiopian coordinator of the project, about these women

"I had private interview with some of our ladies who told me they are benefiting a lot out of this time. As she is entertaining them to speak about their past story, most of them speak in tears while expressing their commercial sex worker life and how people are abusing them. Many of them are deciding to change their lifestyle to become normal citizens of Ethiopia."

The women have been meeting with a counselor and she is the one he is referring to that is encouraging these women to talk about their past stories.

This is happening because of your support. When these women graduate, Eyes That See doesn't want to be done helping. We want to help another group of women experience the love of Jesus. The women are already waiting; we just need the licensing and funding. There is no limit to what God can do, and we know He will provide for many more groups of women to rise up and discover their worth in Jesus!

In just a few weeks I get to meet these women and see and hear the difference that has been made in their lives. I'm so excited to let them all know it is because of Jesus and His love for them.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Seeing who is with us

I love to see how people halfway across the world can connect with one another or see that we really aren't that different.

Here are some cool ways that people are getting involved in Eyes That See.

  • We have U. S. teachers committing to sponsoring some of the children that come to the after school tutoring program because they have hearts that burn for education.
  • We have Cosmetologists who give financially to the women going through the beauty school training as well as donating hair products for the women to use while learning because they can relate to these women who will share their same occupation.
  • We have grandparents who give to the children in the after school program because they know how easily those children could have been their grandchildren.
  • We have kids, both US born and Ethiopian born, donating out of their allowance so that other kids can have good food and a safe place to hang out.
There are many different ways to get involved with Eyes That See, and right now we need your help. As we prepare to launch our new project over the next few months we need people who will continue to support us financially and through prayer. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us. Thanks for all that you are doing.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Our First Ever Intern!

This summer we will be having our first ever intern.  Her name is Ashley Watt and she is an amazing young woman who is studying at Moody Bible.  She will be with us doing some training before she heads over to Ethiopia to be a key asset to the beginnings of The Keziah Project.  

I asked Ashley a few questions so you could get to know her.  Here's what she said:

Why did you pick Eyes That See for your internship?
If asked this question three months ago, I would’ve quickly told you that I chose Eyes That See because of you, Matt Ness. Your heart has significantly marked me and challenged me to love people, and specifically people in Ethiopia. Watching you and your wife Nikki selflessly adopt four times has rocked my world and invited me to dream bigger for myself and my future. Having almost a front row seat with KVI and now Eyes That See, I can’t tell you how encouraged I am to watch you both joyfully and relentlessly seek God’s will in your lives and your ‘neighbors’. Your raw trust in our good God continues to challenge my faith. Your pursuit of the Kingdom for your friends in Ethiopia boggles my mind and unlocks my heart. I trust you as I’ve watched your obedience. I want to learn under you, bounce ideas off you, and watch the way Eyes That See does “it”.
However, now on top of that, I must admit that perhaps I didn’t have as much say in the decision process as I’d like to think. Or perhaps by my choosing to seek this opportunity, God has since affirmed my obedience. Either way I confess that I can’t take full credit for the way things have been seemingly orchestrated together. All this to say that I was very much willing and eager to serve under people and an organization that I love and trust; even knowing that I would likely be working with children, when the deepest ache in my heart is for women. But just as I received news that Eyes That See was an accepted organization for my internship requirement with Moody, the Keziah project was beginning to take form. The dreams on the horizon for this project fit pretty perfectly with those being birthed in my heart. The timing of everything has been unexplainably good and I’m humbled by the rhythm of agreeing with God and learning obedience.

Why Ethiopia?
People ask me “why Ethiopia” pretty frequently, (probably because I talk about it like I grew up there). But honestly I’ve only been connected to Ethiopia for about four years now. I could blab on and on about the reasons I remain interested in, and get excited about, Ethiopia; but there are two main reasons this passion was planted: 1) God invited me to share His heart, and 2) my church and friends have set an example and encouraged me immensely. When I say “God invited me”, there was no colorful request in a mailbox for me. But, as I was learning who God is and who He’s created me to be – this seemingly random country in the horn of Africa was on my radar; and further refused to be shaken from my heart, mind, and conversations.
My first personal introduction to Ethiopia came as Valleybrook Church began to invest in the people there, in a variety of ways. Out of a yearning to be a conduit of blessing to the nations, I’ve watched the church that helped me to ‘get well’ be led to walk among various places and people groups for the name of Christ. For Ethiopia, it tangibly began with Kingdom Vision International (KVI); with which I chose to sponsor a boy named Selhadin. From there it was as if God began to tie my heart to the stories I heard and things I learned of the country and His people. I began to crave knowledge about, and pray pretty fervently for, my brothers and sisters half way around the globe.
It was only a short matter of time until my relational world intersected with that of other people who shared my heart. The burden within my heart grew as I met people who had a contagious and living hope for the people there. I have been encouraged by Hannah Harter, who has a genuinely true heart for seeing the lives of the women and families of Ethiopia empowered. She has a pretty unique passion for addressing and preventing HIV/AIDs and for maternal care. Hannah wears her love for the women and children of Ethiopia on her sleeve and in her eyes. From her I have taken to a stubborn refusal to settle for ordinary believing that our sisters in Christ will someday see their worth.

What are you most excited about for your internship?
I am most excited to look into the eyes of the people I have been praying for, for years. I am anxious to embrace the people that frequent my thoughts and conversations. That maybe seems intense or cliché, but it’s honest. I am most excited to be with the people I’ve been invited to love and hear their stories in real time from their own minds and mouths. Even beyond that I am most excited about telling the women about what God thinks of them, and inviting them to discover who they are in Him. My expectations are nothing short of supernatural I am eager to see and hear what God might have for me and for them.

What are you most nervous about?
Though I wish I could say this weren’t the case, I am probably most nervous about what the trip will look like financially. God’s given me a lot of peace in reminding me that it’s not about me and that He’s faithful, but money can really be a source of fear for me. It will be a stretching experience to pay for the trip itself. But even further I expect that my faith will be grown as I’ll then return and be ready to pay for my next semester of schooling, having spent money over the summer instead of saved/made it. Yet there is something to be said for the fact that this will be the highest costing trip I’ve taken, but I feel the least anxiety about it as God is already showing himself to be ridiculously good. Maybe instead of nervous, I’m curious… about how in the world He can and will work this all out for my good and His glory.

How can we be praying for you as you prepare?
I don’t want to miss a thing that God has for me. You can pray that my courage is grown and that fears are addressed and obliterated. You can pray for wisdom and discernment for me. I am in awe that this is something I get to do. I can see some of the ways God has been equipping and preparing me, but know that He’s not finished with me yet. I want to look a little more, and love a little more, like Christ. You can pray that my focus and motives stay centered and grounded in God, and that He is glorified. And finally you can pray with me that I’ll consistently choose to trust Him as I prepare, go, and return; with my relationships, finances, health, and everything else.

Please join us in praying for Ashley as she prepares for this summer internship.  If you would like to contact her, you can email her at 

Friday, January 7, 2011

Merry Ethiopian Christmas!

Today is the Ethiopian Christmas!!!

Our prayer is that the children, women, and staff of Eyes That See Ethiopia feel God's amazing love for them today and everyday!!

Thank you so much for your wonderful financial and prayer support. You are making a difference.

Merry Ethiopian Christmas!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Through Lauren's Eyes

A few years ago I got the opportunity to lead a team of people from Valleybrook to Ethiopia.  Lauren Lebsack was one of the people who went on the trip and was changed by what God did there.  She has spent a ton of time serving and investing in KVI and now Eyes That See.  Lauren currently is studying in Dallas, Texas and wears a Rangers hat when a Yankee hat would look better.  We asked Lauren to tell of what she saw in Ethiopia, and here is what she wrote.

"In July of 2008 as 17 year old high school student I flew across the world to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. In retrospect, I am absolutely amazed that I was able to take such a life changing trip at such a young age. God’s hand was obviously on it. During my two week trip God really birthed a strong passion for the Ethiopian people. He opened my eyes and ears to see a people with an entirely different background, culture, and set of circumstances. All that I experienced became overwhelmingly beautiful; God allowed me to understand a portion of His love for this people.
Ethiopia as a whole knows the physical meaning of hunger like few nations do. To the naked eye the signs of hunger are obvious and everywhere! What this trip did for me, was it opened my eyes to the truth that Ethiopia needs the power of Jesus Christ more than anything else. I love that Eyes that See isn’t only focused on the physical need but also the spiritual. As partners of Eyes that See we are providing physical, tangible support so that the love of Jesus can be known. Already Matt has blogged reports from Endris saying these tangible programs are sparking spiritual interest. Jesus never turned his back on the reality of people’s need but instead he met them.
When I look at the current situation in Ethiopia there are so many things I don’t know: I don’t know how God plans to feed Ethiopia spiritually and physically, I don’t know how he plans to restore them, and I don’t know long it will be before we see a major transformation. However, I do know, with resolute confidence, that Jesus is passionate about this country and has a masterful plan to restore every aspect.
When you latch on to the beauty that Ethiopia posses, like I did, you know that something must be done. In order for life to change for our Ethiopian friends something substantial must shift. I strongly believe that God is using Eyes that See to aid in this major change. But I also believe that we can’t only give gifts to sponsor our friends but we must pray…with passion. Pray for Matt, Nikki and their family, pray for Endris, pray for the children in the after school program, for the women who are now pursuing a career in hairdressing, for the start of the Keziah project, for the Ethiopian government, and for the churches. Pray that God would move in this country and restore all that has been lost. In Matthew 6 Jesus teaches us to pray “your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” I believe with all of my heart that God’s will is to heal Ethiopia. And if we pray God’s will He is sure to respond."

Thanks Lauren.  You are a gift to our family.     

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Keziah Project Update

Many of you have taken great interest in our women's project called The Keziah Project.  We are planning on this starting as soon as we can, but we have a few details to take care of in the meantime.  I want to send out a few prayer requests for this project and ask that you join us in praying.

  • We got note that our official licensing is going to be received within the next two months.  As soon as this happens we can be listed within Ethiopia as an International NGO and start the project.  Please pray for God's timing and for our patience as we wait on this process.
  • There are women who are currently in need of this help.  It is so difficult to know that their needs are today and that it will be awhile before we are able to help.  Please pray that they see God as their Provider and that we are used simply to point them to Him.
  • Nikki and Christy Reppe will be going to Ethiopia in February to hire staff, select the building, make sure that the vision is understood and meet the women who will be in the project.  Please pray for God's favor on their lives as they prepare to go and are travelling throughout Ethiopia.
Thanks for all the prayers that you have been offering up on behalf of Eyes That See.  If there are specific ways we can pray for you, please contact us. 

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Entering to find a career, leaving whole

At Project 1-LIA we have eleven women who are learning to be hair dressers.  I just found out that their graduation date will be in March.  At this time they will leave as hair dressers, but they will leave as so much more.  They will leave the project with a chance to be whole.  So far these women are drawn to hearing who it is that God says that they are and have begun responding.  Here's what Endris wrote about this.

"Our 11 women have started Bible Study every week (Monday and Tuesday) in two groups.  The two groups are combined to come before the Lord to learn Salvation teaching on every Thursday from 11: 30- 12:15. What amazes me is not only their interest to know the Bible, but also how they have initiated us to start the programme and are actively participating in home works and Bible reading. During their school hours we arranged electronics so that they can hear music and learn through audio Bible." 

 Endris had a time to talk with each of the women individually.  Though they are grateful for the vocational training, the thing that they spoke of most was the group counseling.  Here they are encouraged to talk about their lives and, through tears, they can share about the abuses and pain they went through in their work as prostitutes.  It is a gift to hear how they dream of working in a salon.  These are beautiful women beginning to see the beauty God has put within them.  

The gifts that you have given directly impact the lives of these women.  This would not happen without your faithful generosity.  Thanks for seeing these women and generously investing in their lives.
Sharing lunch at Project 1-LIA

Monday, January 3, 2011

Going Back Full

I received an update from our partner, Endris, in Ethiopia.  He is in charge of Project 1-LIA.  Endris spent some time this last weekend writing of a few highlights of what has happened recently within this project.  I want to tell you some of the highlights.

"Every day between 20- 30 people are coming to share a meal at LIA.  Before the beginning of the meal, we have arranged people who thank the Lord for His provision. In addition to this people are using the facility to learn, take shower, have rest, play game and come together. Yesterday, as one of our teachers expressed it, this is beyond imagination, for many people are coming with an empty stomach to LIA and going back full. Please thank the Lord about this."

I love that these people are unnamed to us.  It is not that I don't want to know who they are, but I don't need to know.  Endris and his staff are feeding the people who are hungry.  It doesn't matter if they are in our program or not.  What matters is that there is food available and people who are hungry.  As the people leave they go back home full. They also leave knowing that the gospel spoken in this place is the same one lived out by the staff's actions.  

Please continue to pray for our staff in Ethiopia.  Pray that they continue to resemble their Father.  Thanks for all of your support.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Looking at 2010

For our family 2010 was a year that we will never forget.  The chance to start Eyes That See and move from Wisconsin to Louisville will mark this past year forever in our hearts and minds.  As we look forward to what God has in 2011, I can't go into the year without thanking everyone who helped us through this journey.  Many of you have been praying for us and encouraging us with words and financial gifts.  We couldn't do this without you.  I want to give a special thanks to a few people for certain.

Valleybrook Church: I'm so honored to have served you on staff.  I am so grateful for our time together and how you are constantly encouraging us to move forward in all that God has.  You have given us great courage when you sent us out in prayer and support.  You have continued to bless us including on Christmas Eve by giving your offering to our project.  We are very honored by your support.  Thank you Valleybrook.

Arise for Children  Thank you for believing in us as we have started Eyes That See.  We were thankful for you when you helped us to bring Ezra and Jackson home and we are very honored to have a deeper relationship and partnership with you now.  You have shown deep generosity towards us.  We pray that God's favor continues to rest on you and that as these families are brought together He is honored.

Christy:  People don't realize how critical you have been at every stage of Eyes That See.  You and Nikki worked hours on the values, tirelessly on what we were called to do and have been so needed as we named and planned the Keziah Project.  Thanks for all of your hard work and support.  You model working for the Lord and not the praises of men.  We are praying for your family and love you guys.

Our Board:  We are blessed by a wonderful board.  Spending time with you two weeks ago was such an encouragement.  These are three men that we are so grateful for.  We are excited to serve this board now and see all that God has going forward.

Doug, thank you for believing in us and showing that practically in so many ways.  We feel such great security that not every start up gets to enjoy.  Thanks for all of you love and care towards us.  There is no way that we could have done this without your tangible support and your constant friendship.  Thanks for always fighting for our friendship.  I love you friend.

Phil, you have been a great support through the beginning of this project.  I could not have done that last trip without you there and I have grown so much from your wisdom and friendship.  Nikki and I are very blessed to have you in our lives as well as on our board.  Who knows, maybe you will be headed back again!

Dan, you are a gift.  When I need a fatherly talk you are always available.  You have helped us to see some potential problems in the most loving and kind ways.  You truly see my wife and affirm the best in her and have been a catalyst in our lives. We are honored that you invest your time and energy in Eyes That See.  Thanks.

There are so many more of you for us to thank.  Hopefully you know the joy it brings us as you work with us to have eyes that see His Kingdom flourish in our midst.  Thanks for everything. Enjoy 2011.