THE DAY WE META YEAR AFTER OPENING OUR HOMES
SERVING IN THE FEEDING CENTER
I cannot believe I will be heading to Ethiopia soon. It seems like months of planning and now it is right around the corner. I haven’t been back in over a year and I am very excited to see our family in Ethiopia. I will be traveling with my pastor, Justin Graves, and 10 others to Addis Ababa Ethiopia. We will be working with our ministry IAMNOT4GOTTEN. We will be doing bible studies and soccer with the boys in our two homes. We will be serving in our feeding center. We will be making home visits to our sponsor children, and finally, we will be serving meals to school children who don’t often get a meal during the day. If you would like to be a prayer partner for this mission team just reply back and I will message you with prayer concerns. The biggest prayer right now is that we would see where God is at work and we would join Him in His work.
God make us bold. Make us as Peter and Paul as we pray for those we come in contact with. Lord may we be the hands and feet of Jesus. Lord may we recognize the blessing we get from meeting and coming into contact with the people of Ethiopia. Lord they are a people You love. May we love as You. Keep us humble. And may we walk humbly before You as we walk the slopes of Addis Ababa. In Jesus Name I pray. Amen
For those of you who don’t know, Kevin and I are part of a ministry. It is IAMNOT4GOTTEN. We have partnered with my brother and his wife, Kevin’s sister and her husband, our friends Rick and Kim York, and my daughter Nikki. We have set up two homes, a feeding center, and sponsor children in Addis Ababa Ethiopia. I say we but in actuality God just revealed His Will and then asked us to join Him in His work. This week I have been writing on the body of Christ coming together and executing their specific jobs so that we may be the hands and feet of Jesus Christ. That is exactly what has happened in this ministry. Sometimes we got it right and many times we got it wrong. We have followed the footprints of Jesus and sometimes we went ahead of Him. But always His grace and mercy filled in the gaps of our mistakes.
The pictures above are of the first days I met some of the boys in our homes and then it is more recent pictures after they had lived in our homes for a while. We now have a feeding center that feeds street kids 6 days a week. They are served a hot meal at noon. The boys in our homes now serve their friends who are still living on the streets.
This is our story of how God put together IAMNOT4GOTTEN.
The city of Addis Ababa Ethiopia calls them Shoe Shine Boys. The government of Ethiopia calls them entrepreneurs. The families of these boys call them bread winners. Travelers call them beggars. But the Lord God Most High calls them “Beloved.” The Creator of the Universe has His eye on them. He hears their cries for help. He knows and is writing each of their stories. He watched over each and every one of them as they traveled from the southern region of Ethiopia on a bus from the villages of Weyleta and Shasamane and others. He knows their hearts desire of trying to find sustenance and provision in the major metropolis of Addis Ababa Ethiopia to send back to their families who have no economic means to provide for themselves in their poorer villages. He hears the heart cries of the small young boys as they leave their mothers and fathers at around the ages of six seven or eight. And the Great I Am knows He has a plan to do something for these young boys who are having to become providers at such a young age.
The Master Weaver begins to weave a beautiful tapestry and entitles it
“IAMNOT4GOTTEN MINISTRIES,” because He wants to remind these children, “The Great I Am has not forgotten them and He has heard their cries for help.”
He sets up a Divine Appointment between Jodi Guy and a group of these “shoe shine boys.” The Creator created Jodi with an eye for seeing the forgotten creatures in His world. So He calls her and her husband Todd Guy from Tulsa Oklahoma to go halfway around the world to pick her their newly adopted sons from Ethiopia, and He places them smack dab on the path that would intersect the lives of these young boys. Todd and Jodi stay in a guesthouse in Addis called the Addis Flower, and outside the gates of the Addis Flower, God had planted another garden, a flower garden. He had planted lilies of the field, roses of Sharon, lilacs and other colorful flowers outside that gate. He then opened Jodi’s and Todd’s eyes to see and smell the beauty of this garden. He began to place His great love inside of Todd and Jodi for these shoeshine boys. And with the heart He had created inside Jodi, He gave her a desire to help them. He did heart surgery on her. He showed Jodi the deplorable living conditions these young boys endured. He sent her to some of the homes, which consisted of four straw beds on mud floors in a 7 x 7 square foot hut. God showed her what they used as a roof that sheltered them from the rain, the wind and the cold. He opened her eyes to see their roofs were simply a tarp they had found off the streets. The tarp had rips that allowed rain and other elements in. God revealed to her these boys would eat a meal maybe three or four times a week because they were trying to save whatever they could to send back to their families so they too could eat and build huts to shield them from the elements. She saw their earnings from their shoeshine jobs. Most times it was less than 10 cents a day. And with the skill of Jehovah Rapha, He used His sharp double edged sword and opened her heart to these boys wounds. And He sealed inside of her these parting words from one of the boys named Gawshaw. “Miss Jodi please don’t forget us.”
How could she? God wouldn’t let her. And because He would never forget them, He never let Jodi or Todd forget them.
For over a year, while teaching their two new sons from Ethiopia how much they are loved, Todd and Jodi prayed for a way to help the ones left behind on the streets of Ethiopia.
But always remember there is more to the story than what we see with our own eyes. The Master Weaver is beginning to weave more colorful threads into this tapestry. Todd’s sister Kellye Jones once told Jodi, “if you ever go back to Ethiopia I would like to go with you.” God held her to that statement. And a year or so later, Kellye and Jodi find themselves on an airplane bound for Addis Ababa Ethiopia. God was creating a “Divine Appointment” for Kellye’s life to intersect the lives of this group of shoeshine boys. One night at dinner Kellye sat down with Gawshaw, Kaleb, Mattyos, and Tamarat and God had Kaleb smile at her and once again the Great Physician did open heart surgery. He put His great love for these boys inside Kellye’s heart. God knew He would capture it with that one smile from Kaleb.
Then God began revealing His plan. He began giving concrete steps to take. He had heard their cries for help and He was the One who would set the wheels in motion, the gears to start grinding. So two months later, Kellye and Jodi find themselves on another plane bound for Addis Ababa Ethiopia along with other cogs in this machine. God was weaving other colorful thread into this tapestry. Kim York, Dixi Campanella, and Blaise Campanella also had “Divine Appointments” set up in their date book. So the lives of these three also intersected the lives of this group of shoeshine boys. Once again the Great Physician did open heart surgery and He stitched up His Great Love inside Kim’s, Dixi’s and Blaises’ hearts.
In a week’s time, the first home of “IAMNOT4GOTTEN MINISTRIES” was opened. God filled it with twelve shoeshine boys. God had heard their cries. He saw their needs and He provided for their basic needs, food, clothing and shelter. And as always God did exceedingly abundantly more than that. He gave them family.
While He created family in Ethiopia, God created a ministry in the United States. Kevin Jones, Todd Guy and Rick York, the husbands of Jodi, Kellye and Kim also joined Dixi’s husband Blaise. And a much needed business mind was formed with this addition. Organization happened. Their children caught the vision. Nikki Pressnall, daughter of Kevin and Kellye Jones, joined the board of the ministry, and God provided a much needed observant eye. With a mother’s softnes and heart in the women, and the business minds of each of the men, and the key insight God gave Nikki, the board and the decision making of “IAMNOT4GOTTEN” was created.
The tapestry the Weaver was creating was beginning to take shape. A picture was forming from each of the different threads. The African colors from the boys in Ethiopia woven together with the threads of compassion from those in the United States were weaving something only God could dream up. And let me tell you God was dreaming up big things. We had our second home up and running within the year.
But He didn’t stop there. “Let’s put another desire in their hearts,” He told His Son. God heard the cries of many more hungry shoeshine boys. So God put in our hearts a vision of a feeding center that would feed starving children a hot meal six days a week. Six months later we are feeding over 80 boys. Seriously these are things only God can accomplish. And still He did not stop. He heard the heart cries of parents with children who need special care. And He said, “I AM going to do something.” And He issued a call to IAMNOT4GOTTEN MINISTRIES and He said, “I created you to do something.” So during that same time frame IAMNOT4GOTTEN began sponsoring children with extra needs. The blind, the lame, the deaf, the mute, the HIV positive, and the forgotten children came to us. They were sent by “I AM” for us to do something. And still “Our God Was Marching On.” He enlarged our boundaries. We took in five orphan boys whose stories would horrify even the strongest of men. A couple of them witnessed their families butchered down. They ran, they fled to the streets of Addis Ababa and God witnessed their horror and He heard their nightmares and once again He issued a call to IAMNOT4GOTTEN, saying “I have created you for this. Take them in.”
Now those are our boys also.
We here at IAMNOT4GOTTEN know this tapestry is not complete. The Master Weaver is still creating. It is looking pretty good so far. The Creator heard the cries. He had the plan. And He gave purpose to each of us. He also took other beautiful compassionate threads to weave into this tapestry. God wove many more lives into this masterpiece. Sponsors from all over the United States rose up and proclaimed with us, “God has put inside us a desire to help.” From east coast to west coast of this great nation God called forth a network of sponsors to give generously to IAMNOT4GOTTEN so we can help our family that lives half a world away.
They had many names on the streets of Addis Ababa. But the most important name they were given was “Beloved and Cherished by God Most High.” They thought they were forgotten. But God called them “Remembered.” We are separated by seven thousand miles and the Atlantic Ocean, but we call them family.