A little bit of “instead”

Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, He embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive.   Ephesians 2 MSG

I love that first word.


Today I am overwhelmed with his love, in awe of the way He moves and chooses to use us, broken-washed up-worn thin-sinners.


All around us today we see life that is ablaze with his glory, and we can claim none of it. Instead, of what we deserve, he gives us a chance to be more, to show His incredible love to others.

These past weeks have been trying, our patience has worn thin, and more than once I found myself dreaming of what it would be like to be somewhere else-anywhere but here.

The processing part of things, the delays, the run around, all of it was more than we had in us to handle.  More than once I curled up on the bed next to my wife and together the both of us quietly cried ourselves to sleep, neither wanting to speak but both knowing the depth of pain the other was feeling.  Wondering silently how it was that He in his perfect beauty could ask this of us.

While dreaming of a better life for orphans, we were instead up to our ears in paperwork.  Not doing child care but politics, not creating families but navigating red tape.

But today, with this post, I want to just stop and take a moment to scream from the mountain top how great our God is, I want to pause everything and worship Him for all that He has done, and is doing through these new families.  A lifetime of good is being born today through widows and orphans here in Ethiopia.

I know I sound like a broken record when I talk about the beauty that is coming into this place through a new family, but today it is real. And that is more than enough reason to celebrate!

Gush Gush Gush… I know..   But really, all of this was just an idea, a simple concept, a ambitious plan, but as I sat in the hospital and watched Beletu with her new daughter Setota. The way she looked at her-the way she kept one reassuring hand on her back-the way she gently caressed Setota’s tiny hand when the doctors came to examine her, peaceful, calming…   I saw something that was more beautiful than anything else on this earth, a glimpse of heaven in this place.

A little it of “instead”.

In a place where the world tried to rip apart life, sin doing it’s best to eat up beauty, God came in and won.

Something bigger than any plan can hold was happening, something beautiful, something God-borne.


Today we heard that the paperwork for the big group of children has been signed and is ready.  As you can imagine this was incredibly emotional moment for us, we have been praying for these kids, and are about as ready as anyone can ever be to take them home.

This call was the answer to prayer that we have been asking Him for.  They are officially through the process and ready to come into their new families!

Yet, we also heard that they are going to wait for the school year to let out before they transfer the children to us..  A bit of disappointment, and a little frustration about the logic behind this decision, but we are thankful that the year ends in only a few weeks.  And if there has been anything we have learned in the past year, it is patience.

In the mean time we are hearing about more children who will be coming to us from the local hospitals and police departments.   Being officially set up as a drop-off center for these government agencies is a big deal, something that we have aimed for, and yet never were quite sure would be approved.  This means the flow of children into our care will be constant and in as much as we are capable of funding and creating new families, we will be accepting in orphans who need them.

The two week old boy who I told you about a few days ago is still coming to us as well, just sorting out that document that his file is missing. They say it is almost done.


Today I am happy to be alive, happy to be in the room and watching God move, and thankful for his redeeming love for all of us who don’t deserve it.  I feel so like these orphans who are getting a second chance, the love they are coming into in their new families is a perfect mirror of the glory that God has shone on my life.  We are broken, so far from perfect, and yet He loves us, and chooses to use us still.

His glory is so beautiful that it brings “instead”, perhaps the most wonderful gift of all.


By the way, if you missed the posts from the past few days, you need to go read them.  God is doing incredible things!

4 thoughts on “A little bit of “instead”

  1. Hi Levi and family from the Cheathams-
    We are the friends of the Alexanders that stopped by when we were in Ethiopia the first week of May. Just wanted to let y’all know that we have been following the blog and we are so excited about Setota and the way God is moving. I love the way you described Beletu’s love for Setota as “a glimpse of heaven in this place”. Reminds me that as His disciples, we are called to LOVE uncondtionally so that His Kingdom can be celebrated NOW on this earth. And reminds me of our primary role as Christ’s disciples, to LOVE. Its through this Love that His light will shine through us and glorify the Kingdom!

    Bring Love In is truly the Gospel in action. Love it!

    We passed court on May 4th and we are waiting on the embassy to issue the visa for our son Beck Gudeta. We are praying that this will happen any day now. We were hoping to visit again on our next trip, but y’all will likely be back in the US on your tour. Maybe we can host an event in DFW in the fall!

    We will be praying…..

    Derek Cheatham

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