All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do. Galatians 2:10
I failed miserably at documenting that last part of our trip. For the first 5 days we were washed in waves of emotion. Starting with the reunion with Abe's mother and the difficult day at Legatafu, to the amazing grace of Korah and the sweet time with the babies to the reality of Kolfe and Kechene. There were so many highlights that it was easy to capture each day with a single story. The end of the week was just as sweet and in many ways much more personal. Our last dental day we were at Luke Society.
(Patients waiting at Luke Society)
This clinic was established by a doctor who experienced a rebirth in a hospital bed. Debilitated by a heart condition he met Jesus at the brink of death and committed to help the poor when he recovered. An incredible story in itself, but the reason it meant so much to me to be there is this was a special place for our dear friend Dereje. The doctor and Dereje are very good friends who share a love for God and a desire to help the poor.
(Here is Dereje at Luke Society with a sweet woman who came back after receiving dental services to thank Dr. Moody and the team and to pray a blessing over all of us for coming.)
I love Dereje is because he represents HOPE. Hope in a place so desperately in need of something good to come along. I heard a great description of hope this week from on of my greatest spiritual guides. Ok just kidding....it was Oprah, but it was so true I had to write it down. As she was dolling out a million dollars in "favorite things" to her audience she ended the show by saying she loves giving away all of the extravegant items not because of the material gifts themselves, but to her they represent HOPE. A hope that when you least expect it something wonderful can come your way and change your life. I'm not blind to the contrast between Oprah giving away a car and Dereje setting up a dental check up.....but they do represent something very similar.
Dereje is a man who was given the opportunity to be educated. Rather than take his education and flee this country that offers so little incentive to stay, he takes what he has been given and multiplies it amoung the masses. In addition to working a full time job in Addis Ababa (which is no small feat in itself to be employed) he set up a ministry for street children called the Love and Hope initiative (there is that H word again). He gathered a group of his friends and community leaders who refused to be apathetic in a city consumed by a poverty that few in our world can appreciate and they chose to make a difference in the lives of 100 street kids. They have an office at Luke Society and when we were there we were able to bring backpacks that were donated, stuffed full of school supplies for the kids they serve and two additional trunks full of items that were collected in the States and carried on the plane with us. It was as if we had given him a kidney. These kids are Dereje's passion. He shared the verse above from Galatians and told me it is their theme.
There is often a question that arises when Africa becames a topic of conversation, "Can one man alone change a country like Ethiopia?" It's paralyzing to even think about. But this one man is absolutely making a difference in the lives of 100 kids who I have no doubt will make a difference in the lives of 100 more and Ethiopia will not remain stagnant as long as he has a breath of life to give back to others.
In the world I live in, through the things I have seen, I believe HOPE is one of the most powerful thing we have to give.