Memory is a funny thing.
While we were in Africa, I journaled more than I ever have in my life. And, I'm so glad I did, because I'm already forgetting little bits and pieces of our trip!
As I read back through my observations and thoughts, I see a common theme. We are asking the question... what is OUR role in world missions? Not just the Campbell family's role... but the role of Western Christians who have excitement and funds to do giant, potentially culture-altering things.
As we were on the ground in Ethiopia and Ivory Coast, we got to see many African men and women serving their own people and looking to us to support them through encouragement, finances, and physical help.
They are the front-line missionaries.
I'd love to share pieces of their stories with you.
There is an enormous trash dump in Addis Ababa, and people live there. Many people spend their whole lives living in homes made of sticks, tarps, and sharp pieces of metal - trash under their feet and around their homes. Their families live tightly together in one room, and they spend their days doing whatever they can to feed their children. Many people dig through the trash to find food or things they can sell. The “best” days are when the airline drops off their trash because that’s when the food is most plentiful.
If and when men cannot provide for their families, they abandon them because the shame is too great to stay. This leaves young women with multiple children left to fend for themselves. One of the craziest things is that these people have to pay rent to live in these homes. It is often more than they can pull together in a month.
Despite their living conditions, we saw glimmers of hope within this place called Korah.
Perhaps if you follow us on Facebook or Instagram, you saw my posts about the teenage boys that helped us serve the street boys on one of the days we were in Addis. Those precious boys have spent their whole lives in Korah. They are now a part of a sponsorship program that allows them to eat regularly and go to school. They were a huge help to us as translators and cultural “eye-openers”. They were part of our team for a few days and we were so thankful for them. But before they were sponsored, they too were searching through trash for food. They love Jesus and are growing in their faith. It was amazing to see their joy stemming only from Christ.
Another man that we were privileged to meet was Yemamu. He also grew up in Korah, the trash dump, and spent his days digging on the mountain of trash. He remembers the day a missionary came and found him. He took Yemamu under his wing and helped to provide for his needs – physical, spiritual, and educational. That was the open door that Yemamu needed and that God used. He went on to go to college and began a ministry back in his hometown of Korah. His parents still live in Korah, close to his ministry building. He started Brook Hills Development Organization that serves the people of Korah in so many ways.
We got to meet the four midwives that work at Brook Hills. Right now, there are almost 60 pregnant women at the dump that the midwives are working with. They provide weekly checks and training in hygiene, childbirth, and baby care. If the women are willing to come to those weekly meetings, Brook Hills will help them with transportation and money when their baby is born. They also will be given free baby clothes, diapers, and blankets. All four of the midwives are Ethiopian women who love their community. It is beautiful!
There is also a jewelry business at Brook Hills. There are a few women who have been hired and trained to make beautiful necklaces, keychains, earrings, and many baskets and bags. These things are sold there at the center and brought to the USA to sell. I’ve shopped Fair Trade in America before, but it is INCREDIBLE to see something as simple as making jewelry literally save the lives of whole families because Mom is able to work.
As we sat in the main room of Brook Hills, I was overwhelmed with the sense that we were in a safe place. It was a safe place for pregnant women to learn and be healthy. It was a safe place for children to be loved and cared for. It was a safe place for families to get help. It was a place to receive truth and be surrounded with prayer. God is working in amazing ways, even in the dump in Addis Ababa. Perhaps I should say especially in the dump in Addis Ababa. Through Yemamu and the midwives, God has created a safe place for truth, healing, and help.
They are the front line of ministry.
Which brings me back to my question… What is OUR role?
Jack and I firmly believe that our role is one of support. We have seen national men and women working tirelessly 365 days a year to serve their people. They know the language. They know the culture. They know the need. We were blessed to be a helping hand for a moment, bringing supplies, prayer, funds, and smiles.
As we think about living in Africa, we are so excited to see what God is already doing in the lives of national believers and see how we can come alongside and help!
P.S. There is SO much more to tell… I haven’t even begun to talk about the Mother Tongue Translators that we get to work with when we live there! Stay tuned!