Tag Archive | "Project 61"

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I’m Taking The Challenge On {Motion of Mercy}

Posted on 01 October 2012 by Kari Gibson

My good friend, challenged me to write 5 stories with each post focusing on one thing God taught me or revealed to me while I was in Ethiopia. He even challenged me to make one of them a video blog. I prayed about his challenge all weekend long (I spent 3 days at a massive women’s conference [DFL] at my home church with over 4,000 crazy gals!) and came to only one conclusion …. ohhh ya, I’m taking you on, Trev!!! But, I’m going to add a special twist, picking 5 song titles that best describe each story.

This week, I’ll tackle a different story each day and hopefully on Friday will have a vlog to share with you, too. If you have any questions for me about our 110 days living in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, will you leave your question in the comments and I’ll answer them in the video. I know you have prayed and supported our family through the craziness of our mission’s adventure. The best is yet to come!

Today, I wanted to share with you the story, Motion of Mercy. Two years ago, God introduced us to a remarkable 16 year old girl named Mercy who lived in Ethiopia, a little village called Korah. You  have heard her story, and have prayed her to the USA for medical treatment. I can’t believe how this beautiful girl has changed me and started the motion of mercy in my life. It’s beyond understanding why God picked our family to take on this medical challenge with basically no understanding of the world of medical visas, neurologists, cardiologists, and EEG’s. We are so grateful for the family and friends who have helped us along the way with their gifts, talents, and passions. We honestly had no idea what we were getting ourselves into, but we give God all the glory. He moved our hearts and called us to action, simply asking our family to do something radical. We knew there would probably be a few challenges like language barriers, facing possible surgeries, or even serious medical conditions. The timing was crazy, we received her medical visa when we were living in Ethiopia, so we needed a host family and a medical appointment champion. God brought us every single thing we needed for Mercy. She has been courageous and has faced every appointment like the Queen of Sheba.

We received the miracle news (today!!) that her last EEG results were normal!!!!!!!! She has a perfect report now and no more medical appointments are scheduled! The doctor’s have assessed her from head to toe and she is a walking miracle! She can enjoy her time now in the USA with peace knowing she is healthy! We even started her on immunizations, so she can live the rest of her life with this protection shield against diseases. This (photo) was her very first shot … ever! Thank YOU for wrapping up Mercy with your love and prayers and support. Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love. (1 Cor. 13:13)

My favorite part of the song describes perfectly how God gloriously ruined my life in every possible way and how grateful I am for His mercy and grace and compassion. I have learned that nothing is impossible with God. God has taught me when I obey Him, the blessings that flow are endless and extravagant. He has changed the way I want to spend the rest of my life, serving Him with adventure (even at 45) and sharing the gospel to the unreached people groups. I want to love big, but serve even bigger…. No matter what the cost.  “I was empty before now I’m drawn to compassion * And to give myself away * Living for the lost * Loving ‘til it hurts * Like You loved me first * That’s the motion of mercy.”

Motion of Mercy (song by Francesca Battistelli)

I was poor I was weak
I was the definition of the spiritually
Bankrupt condition
So in need of help

I was unsatisfied
Hungry and thirsty
When You rushed to my side
So unworthy
Still You gave yourself away…

That’s the motion of mercy
Changing the way and the why we are
That’s the motion of mercy
Moving my heart

Now I’m filled by a love
That calls me to action
I was empty before now I’m drawn to compassion
And to give myself away

Living for the lost
Loving ‘til it hurts
No matter what the cost
Like You loved me first
That’s the motion of mercy

God give me strength to give something for nothing
I wanna be a glimpse of the Kingdom that’s coming soon

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We. Are. Family.

Posted on 22 August 2012 by Kari Gibson

I honestly thought I would blog every single day in Africa. I promise there has been action packed mission adventure and miracles every day, but not enough free time to write. I spent the first 2 weeks with an incredible Visiting Orphans Simply Love team in Uganda and Ethiopia … the rest of our days have been full of activity in Korah, Fistula Hospital, exploring Addis Ababa’s delicious restaurants, and spending time relaxing at our wonderful guest house (EGH) The other day, one of the staff asked us if we ever sit down. Honestly, we have enjoyed every single second here loving and serving in Ethiopia. I’m sure you want a honest reflection of our time and that is the whole truth and nothing but the truth. We. Love. Ethiopia.

We love the ministries who have graciously allowed us to show up every day and be happy helpers. Thank you Ethiopia Guest Home and Mission Ethiopia and Project 61 and Great Hope Ministry and and Fistula Hospital. You have welcomed our family as part of your big family. Can you imagine the joy in my heart when we drive down the streets of Korah and kids scream out my name … “Mama Kiki!!!!!!!!” They have no idea what they do to my heart! They have trusted and loved our family unconditionally. Most of the kids have stopped asking me for, “Kiki Candy?” because I ran out of yummy candy a long time ago. We have the honor of handing out hugs and kisses to the community children and most of all, spending quality time with our “adopted-from-the-heart” P61 kids. Today, I took a van full of 8 teens, Zoie, a new friend, Eric from EGH, and our driver, Dougu to the Fistula Hopsital. I had a meeting with social worker, Hannah about Senait and baby Benaiah… who were former patients at Fistula. One of the staff looked at all the boys and looked back at me with a big question mark in her eyes. I introduced them and told her they had all adopted ME… I was their mom. I loved the big smile and understanding she gave back to us.

One of the sweetest blessings the past 3 months has been the daily fellowship with our dear friend, Wynne Elder. She is an adoptive mom who has been courageous and fearless living here solo in Addis Ababa waiting fervently for their US Embassy appointment… loving and bonding with her babies. She and her hubby, Stephen are adopting 2 beautiful children and due to some paperwork issues, will be leaving us on Tuesday to return back to the states to wait a little longer for a new appointment. She has taught me soooo many amazing things like: photography tips, wonder-woman patience, wearing cool headbands, mission-fashion-layering-hair-nail-southern-talking-magic. She’s 28 and I’m 40 ish … she makes me feel so young just hanging around her. She loved our super-nanny and adopted my 2 daughters … loving us all like family. Tonight when she told me the news that she would be leaving, we both put our heads on poor Sentayehu’s shoulder and bawled. He had to hug 2 really sad friends stuck in the middle, but what a sweetheart. Wynne-Baby, you have been a JOY to our family and we will miss being with you every single day. You have not only grown as a new mommy, but you rocked as a missionary too! (Wynne took the stunning pic of Zoie & me with my best friend)

We have been in Africa for 80 days and leave for the states to take care of Mercy’s medical needs in 11 days. It will be a bittersweet journey until we can come back to our beloved Ethiopia… prayerfully, returning in February, living in Addis Ababa through summer 2013. We are VERY excited about our 2 month mission adventure in Haiti starting in November. But today, I’m holding on to the promise that God will take care of all the family we love in Korah and take care of all their needs… after we are gone. I have to entrust my loved ones to Jesus, releasing them into His protective care. They are much safer with Him than in my clinging hands. (Jesus Calling)

We. Are. Family.

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God Always Keeps His Promises

Posted on 14 August 2012 by Kari Gibson

The best day …

I held Sentayehu’s hand as he helped guide me to the trash dump in Kore (Korah.) As we walked, he pointed shyly where he lived for 6 years before Project 61. I looked at him with tears in my eyes and held his hand tighter. How can I describe in words to you what it would be like to live on a trash dump? It would be an impossible task. How would I explain to you the smell, the unsafe environment, the danger, the nightmare… I don’t want to accept this kind of living for any human being. I wish I could take his pain and wave a wand (like in a Disney movie) and wipe away all the bad memories. Instead, I will fast forward and share with you what God has taught our sons, the Man Up teens, about courage, faith, and prayer.

I want to honor the village of Korah, the birthplace of our daughter, Zoie Senait … who have lived their lives with reckless abandon. Today, we walked to the trash dump with 7 of our boys, and our dear friend, Fekadu who lived 20 years on the dump. The walk through the village winds through the rocky, muddy streets until you reach the bridge. That is the moment you know you are walking into a different world. It is no longer possible to bring teams there, due to government control, but our family of 5 was easy to conceal. The boys walked and they shared their stories. It’s not possible to understand the magnitude of what it means to live, eat, and exist on a trash dump. Living here in Africa long term has allowed us to build deeper relationships with the community.. the real life heroes who wake up every single day and claim victory in Jesus.

I will never be able to wrap my heart around anyone [I love] living in these horrific conditions, but what I focus on is the promise God made each and every child and family He has rescued, each one with a different miracle. God always keeps His promises! The boys were all eager to share their stories. I believe it’s healing to the soul to tell someone your history. My girls have no idea what it means to live without food or shelter, but they honored our friends and walked hand in hand. When we reached the entrance, they didn’t stop but instead helped us “climb” the massive mountain of trash. I was so proud of the girls… they didn’t miss a single step. Roger was at the dump with a few of the Man Up team members a few days ago, so he stayed below with Zoie, but the girls (and mom) climbed until we reached the top.

The view on top is both spectacular and horrific. A few of the workers approached us and asked me to take their photos. It felt strange posing in the trash, but it brought them so much joy. It was the first time I’ve ever witnessed the back side entrance of the dump. There was activity everywhere we looked. In fact, one of our boys ran off to find his mother so he could introduce us. As we held the boys hands, I felt relief knowing they would never have to live here again. But, praying God will continue to pour His mercy and grace and restoring hope to the community … continuing His rescue mission.

For the past 2 ½ months, my husband has been ministering daily to 12 young men (teens) who are part of the Project 61 ministry in Korah. The children formerly living on the trash dump or streets are now fully sponsored with food, shelter and education. Hope. Healing. Restoration. The boys have been adopted by our family this summer (and forever) and we enjoy taking them to church on Sundays, as well as fun activities during the week. They help us throughout the day with our ministry in Korah and never leave our side. They adore their sisters, Zoie, Hannah and Dovie. We love when they call us mom “Enatay” and dad “Abatay” … adoption of the heart. Most of the boys are true orphans or have been abandoned. Roger is teaching the life of Daniel and they are learning what it means to live a life of courage and faith and prayer. In fact, we renamed the “shelter” where the boys sleep to the Man Up Cave. We are grateful for the Visiting Orphans team who helped us paint their door with the new super-cool name.

Isaiah 61:10- “I will sing for joy in God, explode in praise from deep in my soul! He dressed me up in a suit of salvation, he outfitted me in a robe of righteousness, As a bridegroom who puts on a tuxedo and a bride a jeweled tiara. For as the earth bursts with spring wildflowers, and as a garden cascades with blossoms, So the Master, God, brings righteousness into full bloom and puts praise on display before the nations.” This verse means so much to me. The people living or working on the trash dump that have been restored by Jesus Christ now wear the garments of salvation and the robes of righteousness… stunning like a bride who adorns herself with jewels and the bridegroom who adorns his head like a priest. He covers our filth and sin with beauty from the ashes.

I want you to trust Me enough to realize your privileged position in My kingdom. Relax in the luxuriant folds of your magnificent robe. (Jesus Calling)


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Destroying the Goliaths in Korah

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Destroying the Goliaths in Korah

Posted on 25 July 2012 by Kari Gibson

1 Samuel 17 is the story of David & Goliath. “Then David took his shepherd’s staff, selected five smooth stones from the brook, and put them in the pocket of his shepherd’s pack, and with his sling in his hand approached Goliath.” When I walk around the village of Korah, I can almost imagine the hideous giant, Goliath standing, mocking loudly in the streets. He brings terror and fear straight to the heart of this people group of lepers and children living in the slums of Korah. The Goliaths of pain, suffering, sickness, and tragedy stand towering over every corner you turn. It’s overwhelming, but I know God’s power will conquer every single Goliath with the courage and salvation of the lost hearts,

Today, we shared the story of David and Goliath with the Ordinary Hero team to the Project 61 students. It was a spontaneous production of a shepard played by Brook and a big, bad Goliath played by Stephen Murray. The spin off was from the Veggie Tale version and I quickly ran outside and grabbed 5 red stones from a pile of dirt. The story lasted only five minuets, but the message was powerful. God gave David mighty strength and power to kill Goliath. After the actors took a humble bow, it was my turn to share the gospel with our translator, Brook aka King David. I wanted to keep things simple, but felt in my heart I needed to be bold. I shared that God promises to help us face our own Goliaths. When life is difficult and painful and heartbreaking God stands by our side and destroys the giants with His mighty power. I asked the children if anyone had a Goliath in their home… every single hand went up in the room. I shared the ONLY way to have this power in our lives is to ask Jesus Christ to come into our hearts. I encouraged them to raise their hands if they had never asked Jesus to be their personal Savior, their Father. When I looked out in the crowd, I saw 4 older boys boldly wave their hands. It was a precious sight … they didn’t even consider putting down their hands until a few team members went to sit down next to them. We prayed outloud together the prayer of salvation. Let me tell you, the children of Korah pray without abandon!! It was loud and joyful and full of crazy love.

The 4 boys came up to give me a big hug and I gave each of them one of the “five stones.” I explained to them that they needed to keep the stone as a reminder TODAY they are sons of God, mighty warriors for the Kingdom, and children of royalty. I promised to give them each an Amharic Bible and asked them to start reading the Word of God every single day … for the rest of their lives.

Every day when I’m serving in Korah, the 4 boys find me and pull out of their pockets their red stone… their reminder that God is alive in their hearts and will never leave their side.

I Am the Light of the world. Men crawl through their lives cursing the darkness, but all the while I am shining brightly. I desire each of My followers to be a LIGHT-BEARER. The Holy Spirit who lives in you can shine from your face, making Me visible to people around you. Ask My Spirit to LIVE through you, as you wend your way through this day. Hold My hand in joyful trust, for I never leave your side. The Light of My Presence is shining upon you. Brighten up the world by reflecting who I Am. (Jesus Calling, Sarah Young)

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Lord Have Mercy {update}

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Lord Have Mercy {update}

Posted on 30 June 2012 by Kari Gibson

Update 7/10/12: Mercy received her medical visa!!!!!!!

Update: 4/5/12 We JUST heard that Mercy’s case will go before the board of Surgical Doctors at Black Lion Hospital on FRIDAY for the final decision. Our friend in Addis Ababa, Dr. Ridwan feels very positive that …. this is it!!!! Pray BIG for mercy & a medical visa approval!! We have prayed circles around Mercy for over a year. “If you do pray, all bets are off. You can live with holy anticipation because you never know how or when or where God is going to answer, but I promise you this: He WILL ANSWER!! If you’re willing to dream BIG and pray HARD and think LONG, you might just bring kings to their knees and shut the mouths of lions” -The Circle Maker

Update: 12/23/11  we are starting the campaign OPERATION: MERCY to bring Mercy here for medical treatment as soon as she receives her medical visa approval. Please join us praying for Mercy and that the process of getting her passport (done) and medical visa will be expedited. I will update here on My Crazy Adoption as we move forward. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown Mercy. (Matthew 5:70)

[Post: March 8, 2011] I want today’s post to testify God’s mercy in Ethiopia.  I want every word to honor and respect and give all glory to the great Healer.  The first thing that seared through my heart was a mother’s pain.  What great lengths would I go through to seek help for my daughters?  I love Hannah and Zoie with all my heart and I would give my life for them.  I looked into the eyes of this desperate mother (Mulu) asking me to come to her home and pray for her sick daughter.  I saw faith, fear, and hope in her eyes.  I quickly grabbed a few girls on my team and told them to come with me to pray for this mother’s daughter.  She held my hand and told me her daughter, Mercy was very sick and needed healing.  Mercy was waiting for a miracle. Continue Reading

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Let’s Help Project 61 Sponsor Korah Kids

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Let’s Help Project 61 Sponsor Korah Kids

Posted on 08 September 2011 by Kari Gibson

It was truly a miracle for me to walk on the trash dump in June and not see any children.  They were MIA and it’s the best news to hear from P61 … only a handful still need sponsorship at this time.  YOU made a difference in the lives of so many children in Korah who lived on the dump, and now go to school. If you are interested in sponsoring a child through the ministry, Project 61 read more …

SPONSOR FAMILIES- if you are currently sponsoring a child with P61 … please leave your testimony in the comments to inspire others to join the P61 family!!  We want to hear your story.

Project 61 currently has two options for sponsorship:

  1. Boarding School: For $750 per year, you can send a child to boarding school, where they will receive a quality Christian education, 3 meals per day, and a dormitory to live. The payment can be broken up into 4 payments or paid all at once. There are 25 students approved for this program that still need sponsors. You can view some of their pictures . You can sign up for boarding school sponsorship online HERE.
  2. Bright Hope Program: For $32 per month, you can sponsor a child within the local village, where they will live at home and receive schooling, after-school tutoring, a daily hot meal, and spiritual discipleship. There are 10 students approved for this program that still need sponsors. You can view some of their pictures . You can sign up for Bright Hope sponsorship online HERE.

With both sponsorships, there are opportunities for correspondence through letters, pictures, and Christmas gifts. Those going on a trip to Ethiopia will also have an opportunity to meet their sponsored child and his or her family, if they have one. The deadline for sponsorship this fall is September 30th. Please email Erin Allen with any questions:

**Read this brand new post from my friend, Wynne that features stunning photos she took on the trash dump at Korah. Read here.

I love these photos that show before and after Project 61 … your sponsorship changes lives!!

Project 61 Ministries
PO Box 126
Thompson Station, TN  37179


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My 3 Adopted Brothers (they are crazy, too)

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My 3 Adopted Brothers (they are crazy, too)

Posted on 23 May 2011 by Kari Gibson

I love my two brothers, Greg and Mike Smalley- they have been a constant joy in my life.  I’m their older big sister and was very bossy growing up.  I’m sure they loved having two moms telling them what to do all day long.  It’s wonderful now that we’re all grown-up, to support and encourage each others passions, gifts, and talents in life!!  My brother, Greg is moving soon to CO to work with Focus on the Family and my brother, Michael lives in TX with a growing ministry in marriage and family counseling.

I had no idea God would open the door for three more brothers in my life, but He has allowed me to embrace sisterhood again!  I met all three men on my first mission trip to Ethiopia and feel so honored to have them adopt me as their sister.  It’s my duty as big sister, to make sure they are being taken care of, prayed for, supported, and encouraged as my brothers!  I’m equally as honored to embrace their band of brothers (all eleven) living in Korah and supporting the entire team!!  We are family.

If you would like to join me next year Visiting Orphans in Ethiopia, I can guarantee you will get a hug from each one of my brothers!

I met Bisrat (Bissy) in June 2010 with my Visiting Orphans team in Ethiopia.  He has an incredible big heart and biblical wisdom.  His testimony is both heartbreaking and inspirational.  Bissy told me once that he will never stop telling others about Jesus- he lives and breathes this commitment with all his heart!  I’m grateful that my brother has helped us locate missing pieces with our adoption.  He was the one who introduced us to the police officer who helped with the relinquishment of birthmother- Zoie’s Crossroad Miracle. If you would like to meet Bisrat and follow his adventures in Addis Ababa, please “friend” him on facebook. (click on his full name above)

I met Maste last year, but it was on my trip in February that we really bonded.  I watched this young man grow in wisdom and kindess for orphans… helping lead my big crazy team with joy. (just look at that smile)  I love that he became such close friends with my hubby, Roger and worked together to bless the community of Korah.  Here’s what Maste wrote to me when I came home- he has no idea how much I cherish his letter…

It was a blessing to know you. you are energetic and devoted GODly women.
James 1:27 GOD care for orphan
GOD use peoples to care others.
You have an amazing husband that he thought me about giving. Roger told me that the secret of life is giving to needy. it was practical lesson for me. he was feeding street kid at the post Office. Tell to Roger am glad to know him.
The gift that I gave to you is I never gave for anybody in my life. Flag shows one country. I gave to you my country Ethiopia for you. hopefully your support will be frutiful and change Ethiopia.
May peace of the lord be with you and your family always

Sammy is one of the dearest people I have ever known in my life.  The instant I met him, I fell in love with his spirit for the Lord, community, orphans and Korah.  In June, I will share his personal testimony and it will blow you away!  How can someone go through so much persecution and still worship the Lord and obey His will.  Sammy and I bonded last year, but our friendship bloomed this past February working again with Project 61.  I tell him he is the Brad Pitt of Korah!  Sammy understands the true meaning of Man Up. Protect and Love the fatherless.  I’m grateful everyday knowing he is there taking care of his neighbors.  God gave him the incredible gift of tenderness and strength.  One of the last things we talked about… his band of brothers working in Korah- that NO ONE is left behind.  I want to continue to make a difference in the life of children and the needy side by side with my brothers!

If you have a special message of encouragement for my three [adopted] brothers, please leave a comment today and spread some crazy love.

(thank you Cherrie Cornish for the beautiful photos!)





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My Special Lunch Date in Korah

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My Special Lunch Date in Korah

Posted on 09 March 2011 by Kari Gibson

I love going on lunch dates- don’t you?  My favorite lunch spot is Panera.  I always get the “you pick two” with tomato soup and chicken salad sandwich.  It’s so much fun to meet a friend or my hubby and spend an hour eating and talking.  I had no idea that God planned a special lunch date for me in Korah.  We spent three heavenly days working with the incredible Project 61 staff.  We planned a Man Up BBQ lunch every day for the children and community.  We slaughtered prepared 26 sheep and goat for a one of a kind roast.  We invited the entire community- men, women, children, and staff to join us for lunch.  Serving sheep and goat is truly a luxury for the families, so we knew this was an over the top missions opportunity.  On our last day, we even handed out live goats to needy families.

Roger killed the first goat to start off the celebration with a bang.  We were all a little *gulp* disgusted with the ala natural preparations, but it was part of the crazy adventure.  The killing field was in the middle of the P61 shelter we were painting, so if you can visualize bright blue paint mixed with bright red, I think you can get the full picture.  I kept reminding my squeamish team members that this was an incredible opportunity to feed the fatherless and eliminate anyone having to go to the dump that day to find food.  I want to personally thank everyone who donated money for our team to purchase sheep and goat for the BBQ.

On the first day, one of the P61 staff asked me if I would help feed the elderly men of the community their lunch.  I jumped in with both hands.  I’m so proud of Pastor and Sammy… the entire band of brothers for feeding their neighbors every single day.  It felt like I walked back in time straight into the Old Testament.  My special lunch date was a very old, happy man with leprosy.  I think my mommy instincts kicked in and started feeding my new friend by hand a delicious hot meal of sheep and injera. He was overjoyed and made everyone around laugh.  He had a mighty appetite and I just kept shoveling food in his mouth as carefully as I could.  I started praying for him and thanking God for this opportunity to simply love.  He kept thanking me in Amharic and kissing me and calling me Conjo-beautiful!  I was so honored to serve this precious wise man who had obviously had a horrific life living with leprosy in Korah.  I wanted him to feel on our lunch date valuable, respected, dignified.. living a life as an outcast can break a spirit.  But, the blessings I received in return was far greater than what I could have offered him.  Oh what a lunch date!

Our precious daughter, Zoie was born in Korah.  It was a community founded 75 years ago for the lepers and outcasts of the city.  If you live in Korah you are the poorest of the poor in Addis Ababa.  The people have been hopeless and forgotten, but with my brothers and sisters who work directly in the Korah community making a difference everyday- the community are no longer considered the trash of the city.  They are priceless treasures and worthy of praise!!

Please pray for Project 61 and the staff who work daily with Korah for strength, energy, resources, and miracles.

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Why Korah Project 61?

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Why Korah Project 61?

Posted on 03 October 2010 by Kari Gibson

Crazy Bloggy readers… I’m so excited to share a real life testimony from my hero in Ethiopia, Sumer Yates.  The next 2 weeks, I will be sharing stories and miracles from the 7 days we spent in Addis Ababa with Visiting Orphans.  My team had the honor of meeting Super Woman Sumer and her brand new Project 61 live in action.  The experience changed my life is so many ways and I can’t wait to tell you the incredible miracle that happened to me in Korah.  My family received an adoption gift from God!!

Please open up your heart and listen to the story of an ordinary mom who jumped in crazy faith to do something extraordinary.  I pray that her story inspires all of us to listen carefully to the heart of Christ and go anywhere He calls us to go!!  You can leave her a “shout out” right here in the comments and commit to praying for Sumer and Project 61 at Korah Dump.

Sumer’s Story:

I stood on my balcony last night, and smelled the African air. Since moving to Ethiopia in June, life has been very busy. I had grown used to the smell and forgotten how very much I love it. The smell reminded of what brought me here in the first place.

Looking back, I realize that my journey really began over 20 years ago. In 1989 my parents were both killed in a plane crash, leaving my brother and I as orphans. Although we were never wanting for food and shelter like so many orphans in the world, I do understand the inner hurt that comes along with losing the two people in the world who love you best.

This inner hurt is like a wound that never completely heals, and the major events of life rip away the scab. For me, having my own children made me miss my mother in a way that I never had before. I was so angry with God for taking her away from me, He knew that I would need her help, that I would have questions only she could answer. He is a Father to the fatherless, but I needed a mother. It was during this time that God began to speak plainly to me, not in the audible sense, but more in a straightforward manner. It was a time of maturing where He no longer coddled, but gently started to shove me along. “My Grace is sufficient for you, My power is made perfect in weakness.” That was the only answer I ever got, until one day He opened my eyes to His provision. I realized that not all churches are like mine, and not all new moms are literally surrounded by so many people in the same life phase. I did not have a mother to ask questions, but I had more friends with answers than I could ever need. God met my need, not in the way I wanted or expected, but He met it just the same and I am humbled and grateful for His provision.

Three healthy kids later, a great marriage, a large circle of great friends, a job I love, a nice house, and a husband with job security, I was content. I was enjoying my abundant life. Until one night at a Beth Moore Bible study, she began to talk about Esther and about the fact that Esther was an orphan. Beth was relentless on the gravity of her circumstances, saying repeatedly “can you imagine what it would be like to lose not one but both of your parents?” I was a mess by the end, and once again angry with God. “Why would You beat me over the head with that hurt in a room full of people, some who know my story and some who do not? What was that all about?” That was my reminder that God is more concerned with my character than my comfort, and He was about to call me from contentment to a Holy discontent with the plight of orphans around the world.

A few months later I was sitting in my quiet time chair feeling discontented and knowing that I was supposed to do something, but not sure what that something was supposed to be. I was frustrated, and said “God, I have put my yes on the table, I have told You that we are ready to do whatever You want us to do, but You have not given me any directions.” He replied, “Really? Because you are sitting in something really big and in the way.” We had always discounted the idea of selling our house, because we had such a great mortgage. We bought at a good time and had a low interest rate, we could not rent anything cheaper…at least not in this country. We began to make plans to put our house on the market, with really no idea why.

Around that same time, I began to read Katie Davis’s blog about her life in Uganda, and a friend found us a trip to Africa to visit Amazima Ministries. The trip was through Visiting Orphans and it was set for Uganda and Ethiopia. For me, I had absolutely no desire to go to Ethiopia, but it was the only trip offered that included meeting Katie. Corey and I both knew that I would come home with some direction for us about our next step, and I was sure it would be found in Uganda.

I loved Uganda. It is a beautiful country with beautiful children who have dark chocolate skin that fit with my idea of Africa. I wanted God to call us to Uganda, but while I was there I did not feel the way I expected to feel. I did not have any strong pulls or any overwhelming sense of purpose. I felt heartbroken, and sad for all of the children we visited. I was also worried that I had someone completely missed God’s leading in my life and the life of my family. I cried when I got on the plane to head to Ethiopia, I wanted to stay in Uganda, but really had no idea what type of ministry I would even do there.

Surprisingly though, on Christmas Day in Ethiopia I fell in love. I had not wanted to go to Ethiopia, and of all the stops on our itinerary, the trash dump was the one I dreaded most. And yet, standing in the trash dump, I knew I was right where God wanted me to be. I knew that I had found our place. I did not feel heartbroken or sad, I felt hopeful, and I knew that God was telling me “this is it.” Together, we can help them. Together, we can change their lives. In Ethiopia I saw God’s vision for this people so clearly, and I immediately thought of so many ways to minister to these people. I saw immeasurable needs while in Africa, but only one calling for my life.

In the trash dump, there are fires burning and ash covers everything including the children. After leaving, God reminded me that in Isaiah 61 he says that he will bring beauty from the ashes. Those verses go on to say “They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord, for the display of His splendor.” That is my vision for these children who spend most of their time in the trash dump, and for the 100,000 plus people living in the adjacent community, that their lives would glorify God. That they would be a testament to his promise that He will not leave us as orphans, and that this generation would be a planting of the Lord.

Since visiting the trash dump that day, my life has been a whirlwind of activity and preparation. It has been God relentlessly calling us to go all the way. When I try to pull back, He pushes harder. God has been very plain with me that this was our crossroads. This is where as a family we decide what our story will be. We can choose to lay it all down, put it all on the line, and follow where He has called; or we could stay and choose what is easier, and what seemed to make more sense. I knew that God would never stop loving me, no matter what I chose; but I also knew that my time on this earth is short and opportunities like this do not come around very often. I pray that it is all for the display of His splendor- Sumer Yates 9/10/10

Learn more about Project 61 at Korah Dump.  I want to know what you think about Sumer’s extraordinary vision and her radical adventure in Ethiopia.  Would YOU go all the way…  drop and leave everything behind to serve a community that has been thrown way, lost, and forgotten?

Join me and my hubby to Ethiopia for 10 days February 17-26, 2011 with Visiting Orphans working with Sumer Yates and Project 61.

Sign up today.

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