So here we are on this trip around America, telling everyone who will listen all about creating forever families in Ethiopia from widows and orphans. We are beyond blessed to meet thousands of wonderful people who are supporting this work in so many ways. It cannot begin to tell you what an encouragement this has been for us, we already feel ready to head back home and push onward, and we are still only half way done with the trip here!
At the end of each of the events we have opened up the microphone, (or living room) to questions, and we are starting to notice a pattern. I mean, if a guy in Portland has the same question as a woman in Billings that is then echoed by a lady in Dayton… We are thinking that there might be a trend forming… Maybe there are a few things we need to get out on the table here!
And so, without any further introduction… allow me to give you the top eleven most asked questions about Bring Love In. Chances are these are questions that you were wondering as well.
1. Where do you get the children who come into your families?
There are several ways that children can come to be a part of one of our forever families, the most common however is through the local government orphanages in Addis Ababa. We are also set up to accept children through abandonments at police stations, and hospitals as well, however due to the overcrowding in the orphanages, we primarily see children placed in our care who have been living at one of three primary orphanages in the city. Just to give you a glimpse into the levels of need that we are seeing, the primary orphanage that we take children out of has 375 children living there, and only 150 beds. (Just another reason why we get so fired up about creating families!)
2. What Christian influence do the children have in their lives
Yes! Yes! I love this question, and am always excited when someone asks this. You see for us, the gospel is everything, we live, breathe, and yell from the mountain tops how great our God is, and we see these orphans not just as children who were rescued from a terrible situation, but also future Christian leaders who will stand tall in their home country and preach about the love of God! Each of our mothers are invested in their local Churches, and we would not have it any other way. In a way you could say that we are a family leadership academy. Just the same as we see our own kids as the future of the Christian Church, we see our children at Bring Love In as God’s special people who He loves and has big plans for.
We can’t wait to see what He has in store for them!
Honestly, (and I know, I need to get to the next question here, just one more thing) when it comes to seeing the fruits of our work here we feel that the most inspiring transformation is not today, but rather 20 or 30 years from now when these kids are grown and spreading the gospel, and helping change their country. We know that God has a plan for each of these children’s lives!
3. Where do you find the widows?
This one ties in well with the last one. If we see our children as future leaders, than we better be pretty darn sure they are being raised by women (and men, more on that later) of God who are going to stand tall for what they believe. As any parent can attest; your’s is not an easy job, and we want only the best to lead our new forever families.
When we go out looking for new mothers, we start first with the pastors. “Who are the widows or abandoned women in your church that you admire, and would trust to lead a family?” We then take these women through a rigorous training program, and ensure that each of them is ready for the challenge, and able to not only survive, but thrive in their new role as mother to so many children.
Lastly on this point. We have come to understand that in Ethiopian culture (and perhaps most other cultures as well) community is everything, and so when seeking trustworthy people to come work in the ministry with us, in any position, we first look to the community they belong to. Does it provide real spiritual accountability? Does it support those in need? Is it willing to give even when it hurts? Only within the structure of a solid community of believers will the diamonds we are looking for be found.
So to answer this question in short. We go to the local biblical communities to find mothers.
4. What happens after the children turn 18?
Another great question, one that we quite simply answer with another question.
“What happens when your children turn 18?” Are they going to college? Are you going to stay with them as their parent? Yes! Then our mothers are going to do the same thing. You see our mothers don’t see themselves as employees, or camp counselors, they see themselves as mothers to children who are in need, and just because the kids get older does not mean they don’t still need a parent.
In terms of education, and planning for their future we will stick with them all the way, supporting them to get the best education, or vocational possible, so they can flourish in their communities.
5. What about father figures in the children’s lives?
We know how important fathers are to children, and so with all this talk about widows and orphans, what about the fathers?
We thought a lot about this going in, and came to the simple solution of a big-brother program. We found that there were literally thousands of great, godly men in our community who are willing to step up and give back to children in need, and so we are creating a way for these men to come be a part of these kids lives in a real-tangible way. Almost like a big-brother program, these men will come and take a few of the children out to the movies, or go on a hike. We see these men and their role as key in the children’s development, and future.
6. How are you supported?
By you! Bring Love In exists because of donations by people just like you who have stepped up and are helping with the cost of creating, and supporting families. We are so blessed, and can never even begin to thank all of you for the support you have provided. The same goes for our family, we are doing the work that we do because of our home church, and several people from around the world who have stepped up to help us out financially.
7. Do you live in the same house as the children?
I think we must not have been clear enough in this area, because we get this one a lot.. No, we do not live in the same house as the kids, in fact each family (Including our own) has a separate house that we live in, houses that are spread out among the neighborhood in our little suburb of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. We live just on the outskirts of town, close enough to get to town quickly, but far enough that the prices are still affordable, and the air is a bit cleaner to breathe.
8. How many families have you created already?
So far we have five homes opened, with a total of 32 children who have been given new families to call their own. Today we submitted our request to the regional government offices for 13 more to be able to come into new families. They should be coming in the next few weeks, bringing the total forever families to seven! (Praise God!!)
9. How many families do you hope to create?
Long term, the sky is the limit! But for now, we have our sights set on twenty forever family homes set up in the surrounding neighborhood around our Intake Center. We are praying for more sponsors to come along side us and help open new forever family homes.
10. What are the ages of the children in your families?
So far most of the children who are coming to us are between the ages of 5 and 10, however we do have two girls who are 13 and 15, and one 18 month old baby. We are however open to children of any age.
11. Are these children adoptable by people in America?
No! Although we have no problem with international adoption as a means to give families to children, we feel that another solution needs to be created if we are going to put any real dent into the orphan crisis in Ethiopia. Additionally by keeping these orphans in their home country and giving them family here, Bring Love In is creating not only homes for these kids today, but also future leaders for the country tomorrow. We feel strongly that these kids have key roles to play in the future of their country, and that they will help to stop the cycle that created orphans in the first place.
Bring Love In is not just about solutions for the immediate problem, but we are passionate about creating a brighter future, looking at the big picture and doing what we can to help. We believe that God’s heart burns for this beautiful country, and that this model is a great example of His love and desire for a better future for these wonderful people! Yes, international adoption gives family to orphans, and we hope that good agencies with integrity continue to pursue placing children in loving families, but for our part, we feel called to give loving homes in Ethiopia to as many orphans as we can.
I could go on and on here for pages about how we feel that this solution does so much for Ethiopia. But I will cut it short and say, thank you for your part in this work, we are thankful to have you, and excited about what we can do together.
Do you want to help? Do you want to partner with us in creating families in Ethiopia?
Here are just a few ways.
Read No Greater Love, and get to know more about our family’s story and how it is that God ruined our lives and wrecked us for His cause.