Cimbrey Brannan is blogging her journey of adoption from the African nation of Ethiopia on her blog, The Brannan Brief. She and her husband, Mark, are amazing believers who have fallen in love with Africa, the starting point of their little boy, Zane. Cimbrey has an amazing story that reminds all of us what it means to be a follower of Christ in other parts of the world. Enjoy this guest post and please pray for Mark and Cimbrey as they continue to walk this road.
As I write this news headlines read, “Somalis pour into Kenyan refugee camp”, “E. Africa faces famine, Eritrea Suffers in Silence”, and “Nurse Struggles to Save Starving Somali Children”. These are only three of the continuous news reports informing the world of needs in Africa. A woman tells of her journey to a refugee camp in which she was attacked and all of her belongings were stolen. Children cry in hunger, and the prospect of hope looks bleak. The images are real, people are desperate, and governments continue to be instable, unreliable, and lack compassion at best.
These images are not new to us. Over the years, the media has covered famine, drought, disease, and pestilence in Africa as consistently as the sun rises in the morning. Yet, somehow I’ve been made more aware in this season of my life as I sit in a guest house in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia wondering about my newly adopted son’s birthmother’s well-being in Eastern Ethiopia. All too often, women and children are forced into desperate circumstances at a young age. Born to parents who are often poor farmers, many youth seek opportunities outside of their parents’ dire circumstances. Some are able to go to school and receive scholarships. Others must find their own way. Young children throw caution to the wind to solicit a service to a rich-looking foreigner, a government official, or one of the few wealthy citizens of Addis.
Boys ages 10-15 line the streets of Addis with yellow containers full of soapy water. Their clothes are tattered, their faces are dusty, and their expressions are usually grieved. They’re looking to clean shoes for a cheap price.
Boys and girls ages 2 and up walk the main traffics spots in Addis asking for food, money and other necessities during the day when most children are in school or in loving homes.
The reminder is constant that I have everything to give these people, and the call remains, “If you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.” Isaiah 58:10
I’ve met hundreds of families over the past year that are seeking to help with one of the biggest crises in Africa, the orphan crisis. Each families I’ve met feels that God has called them to adopt a child who may be orphaned by AIDS, malaria, and other preventable diseases. Some families choose to adopt HIV children and care for them with the medical resources we have in the states. These families are sacrificing everything to have new children in their homes. They struggle to raise the thousands of dollars it costs to complete the process, and they depend on God for every resource. They know God has called them to bring home a child, and they know God will see them through. (See www.AWAA.org for more information.)
I recently met a pastor and his family who came to Ethiopia to begin a new church, when they realized God was calling them to something very different – a daycare. He and his wife seek to improve the lives of widows and single mothers by caring for their children for free while they work in various parts of the city. The mothers contribute to the daycare creatively by selling handmade scarves, pots, clothing, etc. Impoverished mothers who at one time would have had to give their children up for adoption now are able to thrive as a single parent family. This couple, the Shannons, is sacrificing their comfort, quality of education, personal health, relationships, money, and everything they have to obey God’s word in caring for the poor. Their children are homeschooled and help in the daycare as much as possible. Their young daughter speaks to the children in Amharic and helps the nannies prepare meals for the children.
Yesterday, I ran into an American woman who was living with another American who lives in Addis. This woman has become so attached to street children in her ministry here, that she has 4 children living in her home currently. The children range in age from 10-15. This woman surely has laid down her life to obey Christ. She feeds, disciplines, cares for, and instructs these children into a better way of life. She has taken God at his word when he says, “‘He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?” declares the LORD.” Jeremiah 22:16
I wonder how much of God’s word we don’t really believe because we’d prefer to remain distant from the needy, fatherless, and afflicted. The Christian life is not a call to comfort. I am learning this now as I sit on the floor of my room in an Addis Ababa guest house with my newly adopted baby sleeping. We’re both sick, uncomfortable, and we both feel alone. We miss our families. Me? I miss my husband and my parents, and my friends across Texas and Louisiana. Him? He misses the mother he once new, the nannies that stepped in to care for him when she couldn’t, and the children he had grown to love in the orphanage. When you begin to minister to the weak and vulnerable, you realize God often allows you to feel what they feel. This might be the biggest discomfort of them all, but it creates the most compassion in us for those we serve.
Many people have told my husband and I over this past year, “You are such great people” and “Wow, I would love to do that, but I don’t think I could.” Adoption, like all ministry to the poor and vulnerable is not a calling for select few. It is a command for all of us who profess Christ.
I wonder how God may be urging you to get a little more uncomfortable in this life. Our treasures are not on this earth, they are in heaven alone. Let’s live this life spent for the Glory of God, for it is only a blink of an eye.
18-19That same day the prophet Gad came and told David, “Go to the threshing place that belongs to Araunah and build an altar there for the LORD.”
So David went.
20Araunah looked and saw David and his soldiers coming up toward him. He went over to David, bowed down low, 21and said, “Your Majesty! Why have you come to see me?”
David answered, “I’ve come to buy your threshing place. I have to build the LORD an altar here, so this disease will stop killing the people.”
22Araunah said, “Take whatever you want and offer your sacrifice. Here are some oxen for the sacrifice. You can use the threshing-boards and the wooden yokes for the fire. 23Take them–they’re yours! I hope the LORD your God will be pleased with you.” 24But David answered, “No! I have to pay you what they’re worth. I can’t offer the LORD my God a sacrifice that I got for nothing.” So David bought the threshing place and the oxen for fifty pieces of silver. 25Then he built an altar for the LORD. He sacrificed animals and burned them on the altar.
The LORD answered the prayers of the people, and no one else died from the terrible disease.