Sometimes on our medical missions we are able to hold a clothing distribution center within the outreach clinic. Such was the case in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in 2013 when one clothing center volunteer met the sobering face of poverty in a young country boy.
A Volunteer's Story
"1:30 a.m. in Addis Ababa and I can’t get him out of my mind. I see his face: somber, tired, expressionless. So heavy, his burden. It has drained away any happiness from his face, any smile from his lips and light from his eyes. He is about nine years old, and utterly alone.
He came to the Distribution Center for clothing and shoes. He is an orphan, we learned through Henock, one of our translators. No parents, no grandparents, no siblings. He hadn’t come from the Kechene neighborhood around us, or from another community in the three-million-large city capitol of Ethiopia. He came from the country. We don’t know how he got to us.
He was wearing the only clothes he had. His tennis shoes were pink. We gave him clothes, shoes and a blanket. We had a very limited amount of toys to selectively distribute. We wanted to give him a special blessing, to help him have some fun as every child should. We put one of a few soccer balls into a bag and showed it to him. He shook his head, No, and pinched the front of his shirt. Our translator explained, “He says he'd rather have clothes.”
It was silly of us, really. Well intentioned, but naive. To think a soccer ball a fitting gift for such a young boy alone and fending for himself. A weight began to fill my heart as we realized his life has no room for games. His life is about survival. His life is work. At nine years old! This boy needs clothing, and food. He needs warmth, and shelter, and protection.
He needs to know he is loved by his heavenly Father. Through Henock I asked him if I could take him to the Prayer Room. I hoped to take him to members of the prayer team who would share the Gospel with him. He seemed uncomfortable as he replied back. I asked again, with hands folded showing prayer and pointing to him. Henock asked again. The boy inched closer to the tarped passageway from which he entered. “No,” Henock explained. “He said he doesn’t want it.” With that, the country orphan left.
Our hearts broke. As I sit on the floor in our hotel bathroom in the middle of the night, I pray for him, “Lord, I beg for him. Be his stability and give him the wealth of salvation. Rescue him from his plight and meet his every need. Deliver him into a loving, safe place. Lift the burden of raw survival from his young shoulders. May he find peace, love, and compassion wherever he goes, security and nurturing. May he find Yeshua for an eternal home.”
I don’t even know his name. But I can continue to pray for the country boy whose lifeless expression still haunts me."
We’re going to Addis Ababa again at the end of this month. This time we will conduct a special eye and dental-only clinic. As always, we will have our prayer room where patients will be invited to receive prayer for their needs and hear the Good News of Yeshua. Would you please pray with us for this medical mission? Thousands of opportunities await us. We may not know their faces or names yet but we hold them in our hearts already. They need our help, and they need Yeshua. Come with us! Consider joining us on an upcoming Africa medical mission outreach. Check out our list of mission trips here.