As many of you know I have recently been to Africa, and though you may be tired of hearing about it, I’m quite certain the revelations from this trip will continue well into the next 365 days.
Straight up, Ethiopia rocked my world. It rocked my world in many ways, hard and good. My brain and my heart have been reset and have been opened in a way I never would have expected.
Leading up to this trip I felt like the Lord gave me a “heads up” that my father would somehow be part of this trip. It didn’t make sense to me at the time, yet it sure does now.
The first full day we spent in Ethiopia was with Glory to Glory church. They worshiped in a tiny concrete building with plastic chairs on a broken concrete floor. I remember looking at the stained walls and the open building to the outside world. People were gathered inside the building and outside the building. Some awaiting food afterwards as we were to serve the people. It was a very humbling experience to face famine head on. Poverty here was so much more than the material positions we think of, this was famine of the heart, the spirit, which is what poverty truly is for each of us. They were starving inside, I saw eyes of emptiness, and it was hard. Though there were empty eyes, I also saw and heard beautiful praise, beautiful hope and beautiful faith, and eyes that shined. I had to let the good out weigh the hard, it was unlike anything I had ever experienced. The praise and worship wasn’t in english, yet I felt the Spirit moving so heavy, He surpasses language barriers, that’s for sure!!
After church we went to a local soccer tournament that was started up by ManUp and Go many years ago(this is the organization I went with). To see the kids playing and so many children watching was beautiful. Many of the kids came up to our team, immediately wanting to communicate with us and also asking for gifts or money. Big gulp, NOT giving to them was difficult and thinking of “what do I have to offer them that would be lasting” was a challenge. Many of them went to a local school around the area and some did not. I spoke with them the best I could. Language was a barrier, but the Spirit was not.
One young boy followed me around speaking to me, laughing at how different I was, and playing hand clapping games with me. I thought the one thing I can do is teach them a simple game of different handshakes, and they loved it. Finally this young boy approached me along with another person on our team. We began asking this young boy where he lived and about his family. He explained that He was fatherless and lived with his mother. “No papa.”, he said. My heart immediately connected with him.
This was the first time dad showed up on the trip.
I explained to him that I to didn’t have a papa. I offered to pray with him and he accepted. This was what I had to offer, something much more lasting than a handout. I was able to point him to his Heavenly Father who will always be with him. For the remainder of the time he followed me around the soccer area. Every once in a while he would say, “Me, No papa, You, No papa.” There was a sparkle in his eyes when we would lock eyes. We had a connection in suffering, and somehow, my suffering gave him hope, hope that he can get through this.
That day in Ethiopia was Father’s Day. I dreaded that day for many years. I learned how to celebrate my husband and avoid being titled “fatherless”, but with my husband not there I had to face it head on. I was given a moment to use my hurt to help. Only God can do that.
That evening I dove into the Word. My daily devotion said this:
Psalms 68:5 Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in His holy habitation.
This is His holy habitation, to be a father to the fatherless! I was able to point this young man to Abba. We are all sons and daughters of the one true King, Abba. How beautiful that the Lord took a broken place within me and gave a child hope through it.
Today is my father’s birthday. So this is a present for him. In my loss, I was able to connect with this young child and give him hope in his Heavenly Father. Without my loss, I would never have been able to. God is so much bigger, so much smarter, and so much more everything.
Happy Birthday Dad, I miss you, I love you, be seeing you.