"When I was four months pregnant my husband went to jail and I found out that my 5-year-old son and I were infected by the HIV virus. Can you imagine the misery of that moment in my life?" – Birhan Andy Warren, the Founder and Director of Ethiopia ACT shared with me that on top of the pain of separation and the economic crises due to Birhan’s husband's imprisonment, learning of her and her son's HIV status led her to consider either abortion or suicide as a way out. It was only the fear of leaving her son behind without a caretaker that stopped her from taking her life.
Birhan decided to try to care for herself, her son and the baby she carried, but her financial situation continued to decline. She often sent her son to school with nothing to eat for lunch. When she safely delivered a baby daughter she named her Hiwot, which means "life," hoping that she would bring new life to their family.
Birhan's hopes came true. The health center where Hiwot was born referred her to the Ethiopia ACT Project, and this became a turning point in her life and for her children. Birhan's story is similar to most of the people's in the Ethiopia ACT Project that we interacted with and served last week in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Through Ethiopia ACT, families like Birhan’s are not only being served through medical clinics, counseling, rent assistance, clean drinking water, income generating activities (IGA) training, and school supplies; they are coming to faith in Jesus Christ through Ethiopia ACT’s church plant and Bible studies.
From April 6th – 16th, a team of 5 of us from Redeemer (Adam Feichtmann, Daniel Washburn, Emily Patterson, Kristina Fertala, and Martha Aubuchon), joined by a team of 4 doctors from Menlo Park Presbyterian Church, assisted the 21-person staff of Ethiopia ACT in running medical clinics, church planting, Bible studies, home visits, children’s activities, and church networking support. Our team was kept healthy and the group dynamics were excellent. Even though the days were long, they were rewarding, enjoyable and full of laughter.
Global Partner Jason Polk & Family
In addition to the daily service activities it was also a pleasure to spend time with and encourage our global partner Jason Polk who lives in Addis Ababa with his wife, Liz, and their three children: Nathan, Isaiah, and Anna. The Polks are doing well. Ministry in Ethiopia has its challenges, and the Polks have dealt with some serious sickness this year, but this season is on the up and they are looking forward to what God has in store for them in life, marriage, parenting, and ministry for the rest of 2016.
- Hearing the news that 5 individuals that visited our medical clinics professed faith in Christ for the first time and were connected to a local Ethiopia ACT network church.
- Learning how much the government officials of Addis Ababa respect the work Ethiopia ACT is doing for their city and people.
- Doing home visits (in mud and straw homes) to the Ethiopia ACT Project beneficiaries. Hearing their stories, receiving their hospitality, and praying for them.
- One morning I had the opportunity to lead a Bible study for the Ethiopia ACT Project beneficiaries. There were 15 individuals in attendance. Only 4 of them were professing Christians, a majority were nominal/cultural Orthodox, but another 4 of them were Muslim women in the full garb! The 11 non-Christians, especially the Muslims, came every week to hear a “word of encouragement.” It just so happened that each week that “word of encouragement” is in the form of a Bible study and centers around the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
- Attending the Suki Church Plant that has been having Sunday morning worship services for 1 year now, with 30 adults and 50-70 children. A majority of their members are new Christians that came through their medical clinics, and 75% of them are illiterate.
God is doing amazing things through the faithful ministry of Jason Polk and the Ethiopia ACT staff. It was a privilege and blessing for us to serve alongside them.
- Ethiopia ACT is in the process of renewing a three-year project agreement with the Ethiopian government. Pray that goes smoothly and gets approved this summer.
- Pray for Jason Polk, Liz and their three kids; for their marriage, parenting, and church-planting ministry with Ethiopia ACT. Pray specifically for a trip Jason has next month in Turkey to be trained further in how to church plant and minister in a combined Orthodox and Muslim context.
- Pray for growth in number and maturity at the Suki Church Plant.
- Pray for the Redeemer team members. For them to transition back to California well and to pull pieces of their experience back into their daily life, relationships, and work.
Future Opportunities: Stateside & in Ethiopia
We are planning now for our 2017 Ethiopia ACT trip. It will most likely be in early April 2017. No matter your skill set, you can be used on this trip, but we can specifically use people with the following gifts: Doctors, nurses, pharmacists, business men and women, church leaders, children’s and youth workers, counselors, and social workers.
Business men & women needed!
One of the areas that Ethiopia ACT is looking to improve their service to their beneficiaries is Income Generating Activities (IGAs). The Ethiopia ACT staff has asked if some men and women from Redeemer with business skills can begin working at a distance (conference calls and emails) stateside with them to improve the the IGA portion of their project.
Family to Family Initiative
In June we are going to encourage our church to begin supporting the Ethiopia ACT Family to Family Initiative. This is a family sponsorship program where our families can begin supporting a beneficiary family in the Ethiopia ACT project at $55 a month. These families are the same people whose homes we visited, who sat next to us in church, and who visited the medical clinics that we ran.
If you are interested in the 2017 trip, have business skills that you are willing to offer, or want to learn more about the Family to Family Initiative, please email Adam Feichtmann for more information – firstname.lastname@example.org
June 5th Team Presentation
On June 5th at 10:10am, during the Middle Hour, between the first and second worship services, their will be a team Presentation of our trip and an update of future opportunities, both Stateside and in Ethiopia for our church to support Jason Polk and Ethiopia ACT.
Save the date on your calendars and plan to stay late after the first worship service or come early before the second worship service on that Sunday.
If you don’t already receive regular newsletter updates from Jason Polk and/or Ethiopia ACT please email Jason directly requesting to be added to his list and/or fill out the form on the Ethiopia ACT website. FYI, these are two different newsletters, one specifically for the Polks and one for Ethiopia ACT as an organization.
More Information on Ethiopia ACT
Watch a vision video from Ethiopia ACT to learn more about their work in Addis Ababa: https://vimeo.com/87844712