Peter and I just returned from a week spent in Ethiopia at New Life Home. We took this trip with the intention of checking in on the boys and the new home, as well as encouraging Menge, the volunteers and staff, and loving on our 12 boys currently living in the home. This was a powerful time as we realized the last time we had seen these boys, almost 7 months ago, they were living on the streets. We met them there and bought them food. This time, we stayed in THEIR home as they hosted us. Amazing God!
The house is settled in the Oromo region of Ethiopia, just outside the city of Addis Ababa. Being a little more in the country, the air felt cleaner and the mountains surrounding the area were beautiful. It is a bit quieter with more horses and buggies than bustling baja. A large home with lots of rooms, I think we counted 4 upstairs and 2 downstairs, as well as a living room, dining room and kitchen, there is plenty of space for all of the boys – and maybe more. Behind the main house, is a smaller home with 3 more potential bedrooms, a soon to be school room, and a kitchen. Right now, Menge, our two cooks, the guard, the 12 boys, Getachew – a great guy helping with the boys, and Ebiyot, or Coach, as the boys call him since he is their official soccer coach, are all living at the home. The courtyard has plenty of space for playing, a green space the boys started gardening in, and table tennis! They love this! Many competitions. I’m pretty sure I lost all of them.
Since moving in to the home in October, there have been some difficult days of “parenting” for Menge. It really is unique and beautiful as this home is built on relationship first and an invitation to come. One of the boys said he feels like he has brothers for the first time. Watching the boys interact with one another, smiling, laughing, hugging, genuinely looking out for one another, was really great! Without being burdened with the weight of day to day survival, our boys have the freedom to relax and be free to grow into the young men God has created them to be. And they seem eager for this.
We saw love. Transformation. Healing and wholeness beginning for these guys. Peter shared one night during our group time, “When I met some of you, it was like I could see straight through your eyes to the street behind you. You were empty. But now, I see life and light.” All of our boys are free from drugs and addiction, that many used to curb gnawing hunger and escape the life they were living. They are given 3 meals a day plus an afternoon snack by our two wonderful cooks, cousins, Tigist and Yabasalom. We had the pleasure of sitting around the big table with the crew and sharing many meals with them. The boys take turns praying and thanking God for their food.
The days are loosely structured with breakfast eaten all together, beds are made, clothes are changed and washing done if they need to. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday are soccer mornings. The boys suit up in their practice kit, and then It’s a short walk over to the field where Coach leads them in drills and scrimmage. After practice they circle up and pray before heading back for lunch. Some days the boys are allowed to play a couple hours of Playstation in the afternoon together. Games, cards, table tennis, for some reading, until dinner time. When dinner is over the boys gather again in the family room to play various games. If there is a soccer match on, they will all watch that together. One night when we were there, Coach had a copy of Pilgrims Progress which we all watched together. The boys are eager to watch Bible stories and movies. They ASK Menge to read the Bible to them. They are hungry for God’s word and truth in their lives.
Frequently in the morning, Menge would play worship videos on the TV in the family room. The boys gathered round to sing along. Their favorite song right now is Hillsong – I Surrender:
Here I am, Down on my knees again
And find me here, Lord as You draw me near
Desperate for You
Drench my soul, As mercy and grace unfold
I hunger and thirst
With arms stretched wide, I know You hear my cry
Speak to me now
I wanna know You more
Like a rushing wind, Jesus breathe within
Lord have Your way
Lord have Your way in me
God is faithfully drawing these boys near. He who has began a good work is faithful to complete it. We've seen, and we believe, that God is doing this.