Photo courtesy to Tsung Tsin Mission of Hong Kong Whampoa Church]
In the past summer holiday, young people and pastoral members from Tsung Tsin Mission of Hong Kong Whampoa Church set foot in Ethiopia through joining CEDAR Global Discipleship training scheme. The 24 days experience has proven to be unforgettable as they visited numerous families living in slums. Upon returning to Hong Kong, they shared with us the real-life stories of these families – some are still living in hopelessness, while some have regained hope through God. Here are two stories shared by the team:
[ePrayer – Pray for the Impoverished Families in Ethiopia]
Shashe is a mother living in Ethiopia. She once had her own family, a husband and a few children. Although life was difficult and impoverished, at least she had her loved ones under her knees. Unfortunately she then had leprosy, and because of her huge medical expenses, her husband deserted her and took the children away. After that, Shashe lived in destitute situation with her youngest daughter Senkensh. As a single mother, she becomes more vulnerable to any kind of discriminations and bullies, making her life very difficult. She was once almost killed by a swindler when trying to find a job; and, on one occasion, was nearly kidnapped on the street. Basic needs such as security and dignity are too remote for her and her daughter.
One day, her life was changed after a visit from Addis Ababa Geunet Church (AAGC)＊. The church members of AAGC took her to the hospital to receive the treatment of Leprosy, and also started to support her daughter’s living through their child sponsorship programme. With the sponsorship, her daughter can study in school as what she had been longing for.
Though Shashe only has 50 cents for living a day, she deeply believes ‘The Lord is looking after us.’ Now, Shashe and Senkensh live with hope instead of hopeless, and in light instead of darkness, as if having their ‘Second Life’.
The song writer of ‘Amazing Grace’ once made his living by trafficking the black slaves. After surrending his life to Jesus, he endeavored to fight against the black slave system. At that moment, he wrote a song to praise the love and grace of God. Our Lord heard the cry from the oppressed and hopeless. Do you hear their voice? Where does the voice come from? How may you respond to the oppressed and hopeless?
＊ Addis Ababa Geunet Church (AAGC) is a CEDAR’s partner in Ethiopia. Since 1995, CEDAR has supported AAGC’s children ministry, which provides basic needs to about 200 impoverished children such as food, daily necessities, medical and education subsidies, vocational training and also in spiritual support. Orphans and children from single families will have priority in enrolling in the sponsorship programme. Next will be those from the impoverished families. Most of the sponsored children can get a job in the city after graduation; some may continue their studies in university.
Pray for the Impoverished Families in Ethiopia:
Pray that God will continue to empower AAGC to walk with more impoverished families and vulnerable children, bringing transformation to those families and their society by the amazing grace of God;
May God bless the sponsored children to be the channel of His grace, through them that His grace and love are shared with other vulnerable children, impoverished families and their communities.
 CEDAR is an approved charitable institutions and trusts of a public character under section 88 of the Inland Revenue Ordinance. Please click Inland Revenue Department website to check for details.
 Donations over $100 are tax deductible in Hong Kong with our receipts.
 Please DO NOT fax any donation information.
[ePrayer – Pray for the impoverished families and children in Ethiopia]
There are 182 impoverished children supported by our partner AAGC. Also, there are more than 210 parents in 11 self help groups (SHGs). 7 SHGs started to provide loans for the members and this activitiy has drawn more and more people to engage in SHGs. A special programme during Christmas and Easter was held and former sponsored young adult were able to share with the sponsored children.
Pray for the project serving the impoverished families and children in Ethiopia :
Give thanks that sharing from former sponsored youth at Christmas and Easter programmes have become an encouragement to sponsored children;
Also give thanks that 4 children came to Christ and are taking baptism class.
One child died of drowning in deep water recently and two mothers died of AIDS. May God comfort their family members.
 CEDAR is an approved charitable institutions and trusts of a public character under section 88 of the Inland Revenue Ordinance. Please click Inland Revenue Department website to check for details.  Donations over $100 are tax deductible in Hong Kong with our receipts.  Please DO NOT fax any donation information.
[ ‘SHARE’ May-Jun 2013 – Seeing It with Our Eyes ] FOCUS ~ AN EXPOSURE TRIP
Man-yin says, ‘Once more the Lord calls me, “Go, retrieve their lost image as God’s children so that they may regain dignity in life.”‘
Writer> Sandy LAM, Education and Promotion Officer
In January this year, thirteen of us (two staff with eleven team members) spent twelve days in Ethiopia. During this trip, fresh-faced and friendly children welcomed us, the women’s situations shocked us, family struggles for survival moved us, farmers’ abundant harvest delighted us, and the churches’ loving ministry filled our hearts with joy… All these were beyond our understanding and expectations.
Jessica’s sharing leads us to ponder: ‘This trip has made me reconsider why we go on exposure trips. Is it for something to boast about, or to gain travelling experience, or just to be there and have an easy holiday? I thank God for making me think from the start so that the trip would not be taken in vain.’
Yes, the 12-day-trip took us out of our comfort zone, but bit by bit changed our outlook.
Beyond our imagination…
Like many people in Hong Kong, we thought of Ethiopia as impoverished and undeveloped. When friends and families heard of our trip, they worried that we might suffer hunger amidst harsh conditions.
But when we arrived we saw a different scene. Wendy tells us: ‘I was wrong to think that Ethiopia was lagging behind; I was surprised to see that the country has a modern airport and new cars driving on wide streets.’
High-rises being constructed in the capital Addis Ababa
Similarly Ah Wai observes: ‘There might still be starvation in Ethiopia but on the whole it has moved from “relief” to “development”… The locals commented on the capital’s speedy development in recent years and Ethiopia appears to be undergoing a “China-like” development…’
We were impressed by the airport, streets, buildings and motorcars, but how about the everyday life of the people?
Poor people may seem isolated and helpless and need outside help to improve their livelihood, but we who think we are ‘rich’ are also very ‘poor’.
One day, as we walked up a hill to a rural church at the project point for an hour, Ah Ting said self-mockingly: ‘None of my knowledge was useful in the situation. I even needed a child to help me walk down a slope, and I was breathless after a short while. To the locals I must be the “backward” one.’
Villagers and children help team walk down hills
On our way up, Milly walked with a 10-year old boy. During that half-hour she learnt that although material life was meagre, their internal resources, wealth and strength was superior to ours. ‘In all situations, all lives are equal and that is the same with the relationship between donors and beneficiaries. The poor do not need things which you might see as lacking but then everyone has equal value and status.’
Fiona says, ‘How wonderful is Father God’s creation; in this harsh environment farmers can still grow a variety of produce!’
The villagers’ self-sufficiency and simple lifestyle impressed us city-dwellers.
Beyond our souls…
We witnessed how a local church acts as God’s channel in the cities and villages, serving with love to help improve lives. ‘I thank God for the work done by Addis Ababa Guenet Church (AAGC, CEDAR’s partner). It does not simply preach the gospel but actually cares for the poor outside the church building, giving them practical assistance and services. I saw a community who walks with the poor in Christ-like love and care,’ says Celia.
The church actively responds to social issues and practises mercy and justice. When we visited a programme on stopping female genital mutilation (FGM) we heard tales of suffering from the church and women that shocked us.
Ah Wai says thoughtfully: ‘FGM is obviously oppressive to women and girls, causing them grave physical and psychological damage. The church organises volunteer teams and small groups for young girls to oppose female circumcision, combining bible teaching to change social values (or the society’s unreasonable system/traditions). The church is not only concerned with religious faith but also [heavenly] values that the gospel represents. The church is bold in objecting to the society’s existing inhumane traditions.’
Women speak on breaking the bondage of genital mutilation
We will always remember the testimonies, lives and faces of the church, families, villagers, women and children we met.
This exposure trip not only helped us understand more about Ethiopia’s development and needs, but also challenged our faith as we heard impoverished families speak and saw how they continued to rely on God in their difficulties.
Viola reflected deeply on the matter: ‘The family we visited wrestled between daily living and their faith but they were serious and persevering believers. Their child drew a picture entitled “Jesus is Lord” – a very familiar statement and yet so powerful and difficult to grasp. I searched my heart: What would I do if I were in their situation? Would I choose security in life or my faith? Do I really know Whom I believe? How real is my confession in the Lord? Who is rich and who is poor?’
Poor families within AAGC ‘dance with suffering’ and face life with joy – Rachel
‘None of the people we visited cried; on the contrary they spoke in the power of their faith. Suffering remains but their faith is also very real, as if life could not be lived without God. I may sit in an air-conditioned room contemplating the theology of suffering, but these people dance with God in their daily suffering, supported by hope – and they themselves live out hope.’ Ah Wai shares with us.
Through real life accounts God speaks to us, changes our mentality and renews our lives.
After our return…
We left Ethiopia with precious memories which have brought much reflection into our lives.
Some members have resolved to re-examine their lifestyles to reduce unnecessary consumption; some have joined CEDAR’s Carbon Fast 2013 and are learning to live an environmentally friendly low-carbon life.
As Agnes says, ‘Living a stable life and enjoying religious freedom in Hong Kong makes me think of poverty as a faraway matter. But through this trip God has taught me that He has not forgotten the world and that His blessings are global. He will raise us up to work together and learn to love others as we love ourselves, and through the ministry of caring for society His mighty kingdom will be revealed, that people may practise integral mission.’
Ethiopia may be distant and unfamiliar, but at least we have taken the first step to bridge the chasm.
[ePrayer – Pray for the Children Ministry in Ethiopia]
Give thanks that God use CEDAR’s partner AAGC as a channel of His grace and love to the children and families in these years. AAGC is now serving around 200 children by providing education, food, vocational training and medical help. To ensure well being of children, AAGC also encourages children to participate in some social and spiritual activities. According to statistics, national HIV/AIDS infection rate is dropping and less discrimination is observed in AAGC’s target communities.
Pray for the Children Ministry in Ethiopia:
Pray that God to give AAGC the wisdom and strength to serve the communities, including those living with HIV/AIDS;
Pray for those families that AAGC is serving. Hope their living conditions can improve and may their lives be full of God’s love and grace.
In the second half of 2011, south-east part of Ethiopia was hit by the most serious drought and famine in 60 years as the country experienced the impact of climate change. The victims lost their livestock and crops. 3.5 million people were affected. In partnership with local Christian groups, CEDAR’s partner Tearfund UK provided emergency relief in Borena zone.
15,000 people were benefited from the drought relief
In our children ministry we emphasise our walk with sponsored children and their parents in an equal relationship(relationship or partnership?). We are delighted by our partner Addis Ababa Guenet Church (AAGC)’s new approach. On top of providing basic needs to impoverished children, AAGC is now helping the parents to form self-help savings groups. Some of the groups have achieved good saving target. The parents are very exciting with the accumulated saving records and have gained hope on the future.
7 parents self-help savings groups were formed in 2011
Prospect in the Coming Year
In the coming ministry year, CEDAR will focus on responding to the need of impoverished children families and the challenge of climate change. Partner AAGC will start business training and micro-credit loans among parents saving groups to lend money to different group members at low-interest rate for developing their livelihoods, with the hope that at the end parents can meet the needs of the children.
For the climate change, CEDAR supports partner Tearfund UK to start a post-disaster rehabilitation project in Borena zone, including provision of livestock, training on cultivating the high-productive agricultural products, set up of water system, organisation of self-help groups and farmers’ cooperative for sales and marketing, to help local impoverished families to recover from the drought and enhance their ability on fighting against the impact of drought and climate change.
7,000 people will be benefited from the drought rehabilitation
‘I thought that the Ethiopian are very nice and full of life-force. Although their livings are very desperate, they always encourage, support and help each other. For example, the drought victims will share their food aids freely with other victims, and the saving group members will try to help each other if any one of them cannot pay the deposit of that month. They do not want to be aid receivers only, but wish that they themselves can be self-reliant and get involved to improve and develop the livelihoods of their communities as well. What they need is the opportunity to develop their potentials.’
After the exposure monitoring trips and discussions in the past two years, according to a series of measurement, such as the human development index (HDI), Gini coefficient, political and social stability, uniqueness and the possibility of monitoring project, we have finally chosen Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, India, Nepal, Myanmar and China to be the focus countries for our projects.