We drove up in the late afternoon to the neighborhood where our host lives. It looked more like a slum than a neighborhood, and we looked like a spectacle. All eyes were on us as we piled out of the car and started down a gravel road. We entered through a door to a compound of sorts and were invited into our host’s home. By home I mean a room the size of a big closet. The seven of our team members, our translator, and missionary Cindy Denker squeezed like sardines into the home of a young girl who was beaming with happiness. A house full of visitors was just what her spirit needed. This young woman is fourteen years old and has been losing mobility for a few months. Her muscles have slowly stopped doing their job, and she remains house-ridden for most of her time. Her mother works during the days, and she spends her time singing the songs she remembers from choir practice. Cindy’s recent visits to this young woman have helped restore her body, and Cindy helps her with some physical therapy exercises. Their time together has also helped give comfort to her spirit as Cindy studies the Bible and prays with her.
This visit was a game-changer for our group. As a team leader for a group of students from Union University, it was a joy to watch my team members serve our new friend. We sang for her and painted her fingernails. We shared Scripture, prayed, and shared about how God had been faithful to us during difficult times in our lives. God had already been working in this young woman’s life, and it was a privilege to be a part of God bringing even more hope to her heart through our visit that day.
This young woman’s story deeply imprinted each of us that met her that day. We saw poverty and sickness in overwhelming power. However, we walked away from that day seeing even more overwhelmingly how God was at work in the midst of such a desperate situation. We met many people like our new friend through the TLC program who lead difficult lives in difficult circumstances. However, the True Light is shining in Ethiopia through TLC, and it is evident when children and their guardians come to the center. They are receiving so much more than sponsorship; they are receiving the love of Christ tangibly through TLC’s workers like Ayele and Nati. These workers know each of the children by name. They know their families and circumstances and care deeply for each one of them. They were quick to play with the kids, joking around and making them laugh. But they were also quick to share truths from the Bible and to build each of these children into disciples of Jesus. It was truly a joy to get to be a part of TLC’s work in Addis Ababa and to see that the True Light is already shining through the work there.