Thursday, June 23, 2011

Through Lizzy's Eyes...

This trip to Ethiopia was more eye opening than I could have imagined. Initially, I was shocked with the brokenness of the city. It was so unlike America that it seemed it had been lost and forgotten. But on the trip I was reminded of Christ’s command to store up treasures in heaven. I could not get these two thoughts to reconcile in my mind. Jesus commands us not to seek money, possessions and things over His kingdom. He longs to provide for his children. He is a good father who gives good gifts. So why was I so sad for the people of Addis that lacked the same material possessions I have?

I think it is because it is very hard to understand and accept that Addis Ababa, Ethiopia exists at the same time Cottage Grove, Wisconsin exists. Our Sabbath Day really gave me freedom to reflect on this question and marvel at the work God has done in my life. As I starred at the beautiful lake with the mountains in the backdrop I was reminded that God is Holy. God is Sovereign. His ways really are higher than our ways. God grieves the hurt that has come upon His children more than we can understand. This hurt is not exclusive to Ethiopia or Africa, but is evident throughout the whole world. Nothing is as it was supposed to be. Ethiopia gave me a clearer picture of how truly sin has separated us from God.

But our God is not dead, He is alive. He is still in the business of restoring lives. God is at work in Ethiopia. Endris, director of LIA, opened up to us and explained the heart behind LIA and Eyes That See. Fifteen women that come from very broken backgrounds (prostitution, drug abuse, physical abuse, etc.) are invited into freedom. They receive professional counseling, spiritual counseling and attend beauty school taught by a teacher that genuinely loves them and believes in them. They are fed at LIA. Endris and others visit the women in their homes. They keep track of the women. They love them. There is hope for them because of LIA. The same holds true for the children. They are selected to come to LIA because of their great need. They are either single or double orphaned and they do not have adequate means to survive. The children that come to LIA are also selected because they have great potential and dedication. They are tutored at LIA in math, physics and english, are fed a meal and are importantly given a chance to be kids. As Endris told us of the troubles of Ethiopia he spoke with such passion and heartache. He told us, “the need is so great. So many are starving. But for these fifteen women there is hope.” He told us again, “the need is never ending here, but our God is a great God.”

I think if we really saw our lives the way that God sees them, we would feel the need is never ending, even in Cottage Grove, Wisconsin. For me this trip to Ethiopia was about coming awake. Our God is real, we are the body of Christ and He has so much in store for our world. Matt told our group that he and his wife are not special, they just believe God. Their willingness to believe God has spurred people to freedom. They have shown God’s love to women who would never imagine that they have value and lifted huge weights off the shoulders of young children. They have saved lives. All because they take God at His word and follow Him. This is the same quality that made King David “a man after God’s own heart.” We cannot afford to shrink back. Let us all take God at his Word and live by faith.

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