Global Mission Interview: Ethiopia Mission Trip, September 2015

by Avery Myers

NEWS-ethiopia_team

Surprisingly, Axum Coffee is crowded on a pseudo-chilly Tuesday morning, but it’s a fitting home for a conversation with Pam Forsyth — and a brief chat with some members of her team. These ladies were just a few members of the group Mosaic Church sent to Axum, Ethiopia, late in the summer.

“How do you even begin to describe what happened there,” Pam Forsyth almost marvels. “You pack so much into one week — it’s really astounding.”

After touching down in Axum, located in Northern Ethiopia, our team of thirteen wonderful people worked with local organization Operation Rescue Ethiopia (ORE), providing encouragement and support to fellow believers and at-risk children within the ORE program. Since ORE was started several years ago, it has grown into one of Ethiopia’s most influential and solid foundations, with the added perk that it is run by natives of Adwa and Mekelle City.

It’s a little known fact, but Ethiopia has one of the largest orphan populations in the world, calculated at over four million. Alone, these children are left to fend for themselves by begging on the streets, and millions of them grow up with no hope for breaking out of the vicious cycle of poverty.

ORE’s game plan is to the empower children of Ethiopia, enrolling them in school, providing devotionals and tutoring, home visits and medical assistance, all while raising these children in a Jesus-filled and positive environment. At the end of their high school career, ORE provides support through university, and even goes the extra mile to reenforce some of their graduated students with small business loans. These careful, loving measures, bring encouragement and light to what seemed condemned future.

The question is: does this method, while more tedious and involved, work better than just “throwing money” at Ethiopia’s orphan population?

The results are overwhelming, and their stories of immense success are enough to warm anyone’s heart. Many of their former students have returned to work full-time for ORE.

“They {ORE} have a fantastic system. They really are dedicated to their kids.”

Pam Forsyth brought her iPad to the coffee shop, beaming as she swiped through hundreds of utterly heartwarming images of the children at ORE. These people are happy. I know we hear that a lot, and it’s cliche, but these children are truly, truly happy.

“The most powerful thing was engaging in worship with members of the body of Christ in Ethiopia,” she says, after I posed that fated and corny question, what was the best part of your trip? There are photos of children and adults, hands in the air and smiles abound, worshiping with everything in them. It’s a stark contrast to this disconnect we sometimes feel during worship, but a revitalizing reminder.

Pam says the team’s vision for the trip was relaxed and Spirit-led, an intimate and friendly model for short-term missions. Each person has a completely different story of how God worked through them while in Ethiopia. (If you see anyone around, maybe ask them to get coffee with you, and have them tell you their story. You’ll be surprised.)

Everyone had a general consensus when faced with the question, how can we better partner with the people of Ethiopia?  The answer is simple, yet potent: prayer. Prayer is a powerful thing. It’s incredible to see how it opens us up to gratitude and generosity.

For now, be inspired by the resiliency of the church of Ethiopia, and rejoice, because Jesus is doing supernatural things in and through his church in Axum and Adwa, and the rest of the earth.