Written by Lauren Putty
Hope for the Hopeless is one of our partner ministries that provides a safe place to live for at-risk youth. Many of the children have come from the streets, abusive families, extreme poverty, or have been orphaned.
A few months ago I had the privilege of accompanying 20 of the teenage girls from these centers on a 3-day girl’s retreat. This was a time intended for growth, vision, restoration, and FUN. Although most of them have been through more than most of us can imagine, we believe God has amazing plans for their lives and the goal of this retreat was for them to leave believing that too.
We took them to a city called Hawassa, about 5 hours from Addis Ababa, where there are lakes and many things to do. Many of the girls said that they did not sleep the night before in anticipation, and others said they had never even seen a lake before.
Many prayers were lifted up in the months and weeks leading up to the trip, and on an early morning in February, we were off! I rolled into the orphanage at 6AM in our giant bus, and all 20 of the girls came piling out in their most stylish outfits with smiles across their faces.
Among the things we did during our time in Hawassa were boating on the lake, listening to the stories and testimonies of influential Ethiopian leaders, swimming at a resort, and of course, eating lots of amazing food. Most of these foods they would only eat on holidays.
We were also able to serve at another partner ministry of ours in Yirgalem, Ethiopia. Here, they were able to pray with the poor and play with children from the village. For many of them, this was their favorite part of the trip.
Saturday night was the capstone. We were able to have a lakeside feast at a beautiful resort, and since many of the girls have family members in the city of Hawassa, they were able to invite them to dinner and get some special time with their families. After saying our goodbyes to their family members and heading back to the hotel, we all crammed into a small hotel room at around 10PM for a time of prayer, worship, and encouragement. The room filled with praise as the girls began lifting the secrets of their heart to the Lord. Three of the leaders of our trip spoke powerfully on vision and hope, and we closed the night after midnight with one last prayer. As we drifted off to sleep that night one of the girls said, “Tonight was like heaven.” It truly was a taste of heaven on Earth in that small hotel room in Hawassa, Ethiopia.
We believe in investing in the lives of those we serve. Sure, we could probably get larger numbers with a different strategy, but we believe that if we intentionally invest our time, resources, and love into the children in our programs, they will realize their full God-given potential and go on to do great things for others. Below are some words from the girls after the trip:
“I learned many things: First, trust in God. Second, even if you have small things you can make people happy. Third, in any situation there is hope.”
“Within three days, everything inside of me changed.”
“The Yirgalem trip made me the most happy. Before this time, the people were visiting me, but now God gave me the chance to visit others.”
“Only God knows how much my joy was.”
“The trip was very good and it is the reason my thoughts have changed. I learned we can visit people not only with money, clothes, and food, but there is more than this: the love of Christ. He gives us His love and we can give it to other people.”
“Some people, including me, say, “Lord, why did this happen?” and we ask Him every time why why why. But God created us full of health and I learned that we have to thank God. This trip taught me that I have to praise Him in any situation. I praise the Lord for making this program for us.”
Thank you Change Partners, for making this trip a reality. It would not have been possible without your partnership.