Jul 07

Literacy Update

We believe that literacy learning is vital for the moms who are part of the project.  This past year we had 52 Moms who were involved in the literacy program and recently we were able to graduate 17 of them!  It was a great honor as the local government also got involved in providing a literacy certificate for each Mom!

Moms Literacy

 For over half of the Moms entering the project, they are functionally illiterate.  Many of them cannot write their names.  Most of them have only made it through fourth grade.

Literacy Education provides these Moms with new opportunities.  Now they are able to continue in their education.  Now, they are able to grow towards new job options.  Now they have a restored sense of dignity and confidence as they no longer have to sign their name as an X or with a fingerprint.  They have an identity!

 Thank you for believing in the Moms of EHE and partnering with us so that they might grow in literacy.  It is making a difference – one Mom at a time.

Jun 25

Our Proposed Itinerary

One week from now we will be sitting in the Bole Airport in Addis Ababa waiting to travel with all 8 of us back to the US for a 3 month home assignment.   We are getting excited.   We are especially excited to be able to talk with so many great folks about all that God continues to do through Embracing Hope Ethiopia.

After leaving Addis we’ll have a very short layover in Doha, Qatar and then onward to Washington DC.  We’ll then get to spend the July 4th holiday with family and have a few days to take care of important details like renewing our expired drivers licenses, overcoming a bit of jet lag and adjusting a bit to culture shock.

Then on July 12th we head out on the road for a 6,000 mile journey.  I’m sure we’ll have some stories to tell along the way.

While we are still putting the final touches on our Itinerary, here is where to find us while we are speaking about EHE.  In many cases, we are still working out the details of where we’ll be, but at least the general areas are listed below.  Please subscribe to our Facebook page to stay in the loop of where we will be next…as well check back here.

12 -13 – Doylestown, PA
14 – Kingston, NY (Home Meeting)
15 – 17 – Attending the Vineyard East Regional Conference in Lewiston, ME
18 – Cambridge, MA (Home Meeting)
20 – Irondequoit Vineyard Church, Rochester, NY (Sunday worship)
21 – Cambridge Ontario (Home Meeting – evening)
22 – 23 – Cambridge Ontario Area
23 – 27 – Greenville, PA Area. Multiple Events. Locations TBD.
29 – First Lutheran Church, Washington, PA (Afternoon and Evening)
30 – Clarksburg, WV (Pending)
31- Columbus, OH Area (TBD) (If you are interested in hosting an event in the Columbus area, please let us know)

1 – Columbus, OH Area (TBD)
2 – 3 – Indianapolis IN Area (TBD) (If you are interested in hosting an event in the Indy Area, please let us know)
4 – 7 – Chicago/Wheaton, IL (Multiple Events TBD) (If you are interested in hosting an event in the Chicago Area, please let us know)
8 – 10 Faith Church, Manitowoc, WI
11 – Oshkosh, WI (Home Meeting)
12 – Farwell, MN (Home Meeting)
13 – 14 – Travel Days
15 – Lebanon, MO
17 – Nashville, TN (TBD)
18 – Clarksville, TN
19 – Nashville, TN (TBD)
20 – Lexington, KY
21 – 22 – Blacksburg, VA (TBD)
23 – 24 – Kernersville, NC
24 – Greenville, NC (afternoon/evening)
25 – 26 – Alexandria, VA
27 – Ashburn, VA
28 – 30 – Philadelphia, PA Area
31 – Chester Springs Vineyard Church, Chester Springs
31 – Coventry Church of the Brethren, Pottstown, PA (Evening)

2 – 3 Brooklyn, NY
4 – Lancaster, PA
5 – East Petersburg Mennonite Church, East Petersburg, PA (evening)
6 – Open House – Zion Church, Millersville, PA (evening)
7 – Zion Church, Millersville, PA (Sunday School & Morning worship)
8 – Lancaster, PA Area
9 -12 – Altoona, PA Area
13 – 20 – Vacation
20 – 21 – Poconos (TBD)
21 – Wellsboro Vineyard Church, Wellsboro, PA (evening worship)


Jun 21

Why EHE wants to visit your church / group this summer…

It has been 3 years since our family last returned to the US.  Actually it has been 3 years since we last left Ethiopia at all.  It has been an amazing time and one in which we have watched God do the amazing and impossible right in front of our eyes.

In 10 days we are leaving for the US to spend 3 months on a home assignment.  We have decided as a family that this time around we need to go on the road to share about what God is doing in and through EHE.  Over 2 months, we’ll travel almost 7,000 miles sharing with churches, small groups, adoptive families and those who are concerned about social justice.  Some will be large groups and others will be small.

Why do we feel it’s worthwhile to pile our family of 8 into a van and live on the road for 2 months?

1.  Because we want to share what God is doing. 

We have so many God stories of what He is doing among the poorest of the poor and to be honest, we love sharing them.  We want to tell the stories, warts and all – of how God continues to draw women and their children to Himself one step at a time.  You can get previews of some of these stores at www.vimeo.com/embracinghope

2.  Because we want to enhance discipleship among believers.  

We love to see believers growing in their walks with The Lord.  We have come to believe that one of the greatest tools to see that happen is to have believers walk among the poor.   By sharing what poverty is and what it is not, it can help set the stage for people to grow in discipleship as they Do Justice, Love Mercy and Walk Humbly with God.  We hope that our story can help spark that growth in others.

3.  Because we feel like we’ve learned a few things that we can pass on.

We’ve now spent almost 5 years in Ethiopia, trying to live in close proximity to the poor.  We’ve watched them struggle.  We’ve also been involved in starting a ministry among the poor from scratch and are now seeing it do very well within an environment that is extremely difficult on multiple levels.  We’ve seen teams come who left behind a legacy and we’ve watched as others left dependency and difficulty in their wake.  We’ve done many things wrong and a few things right along the way.  We feel that we finally have something to share with churches and ministries who send teams and are concerned about helping without hurting.  We believe that now we have something to share with individuals who want to partner and walk alongside the poor.

4.  Because we want to provide opportunities for partnership. 

We know that many believers have a deep concern for the poor.  They want to do something to help alleviate poverty.   However, it can be hard to know who to help and when to help them.   As an organization, we are growing and we have a need for more family partners.  We need more people who are willing to provide some financial support while at the same time praying for and caring for a vulnerable family.

5.  Because we believe that caring for the orphan and the widow is critical for the Church.

We have become convinced that God has a heart for the widow and the orphan.  We also have become convinced that the way we care for women and children becomes a strong indicator of how we are following after The Father of the fatherless.  Therefore we want to see churches and individual believers mobilized to care for what is on God’s heart.  We believe that this is a path that leads to deep blessing.   As a ministry we deal with potential orphans and women who have been cast off as widows every day.   We believe God wants to deepen the hearts of believers and churches for the widow, the child, the orphan.

6.  Because we want to invoke faith in others to also step out and follow God’s leading.

Along the way we simply were a family that said Yes to the Lord without any idea of what that was going to mean or what it was going to look like.  We know that sitting in every church and living room in America, there are other people who are asking the hard question of what does God want to do with me.  We want to help inspire people to serve the last, the least and the lost in their backyards and around the world.  We want to see people grab ahold of Doing Justice, Loving Mercy and Walking Humbly with God – in a wholehearted, fully lived out sort of way.

Here are some questions you might have if you would be interested in hosting EHE in your area…

1. What does EHE require if our church / group wants to host The Shannons?

– We ask for the opportunity to promote family sponsorships.  This is the bread and butter of our organization and it is what helps us to help more Moms and Children.  This Summer we are growing from 122 children and Moms in our project to 188 children and Moms.  We need individuals and churches who are willing to partner financially.

– We ask for the opportunity to sell fair-trade, Ethiopian made handicrafts.  We use handicrafts as a training tool at Embracing Hope Ethiopia.  It gives our newer moms, or those with disabilities or other issues, an income to provide for their family.  We’ll have necklaces, bracelets, baskets, earrings, Christmas ornaments and coffee that they have made.  By offering these wares for sale, we are employing these moms and raising some proceeds for EHE.  You can see the handicrafts we sell at www.EmbracingHopeStore.com.  We’ll also have some cool t-shirts…unfortunately they are not made by Moms in the project, but we did our best in trying to source ethically made products.

– We ask that your church consider housing our family for a night.  We’re totally fine sleeping on the floor – a roof over our heads is perfect.

2. How does EHE benefit?

We believe that a key component in seeing poverty addressed in Kingdom-focused ways is through awareness.  Our hope is that some who hear about EHE will help us in our continued growth to serve more and more women and children in Ethiopia.  We hope that we will cover all of our new family sponsorships through this tour, be positioned to continue to grow and also have tons more people sharing about us and praying for us.

However, bottom lining it, the way we benefit is to see God glorified.  EHE has always belonged to God.  He is the one who has parted the sea when it needed to be.  He is the One who cares for the moms and children we serve even more than we do.  He is the One who keeps sending the waves and we just try to ride them.  If He is made more famous and glorified – then we will have benefitted greatly.

3. What groups are The Shannons open to sharing with?

We love sharing to all kinds of groups, but here are some of our favorites:

Churches – We love being able to share and challenge churches to grab ahold of all that God has for them.

Social Justice Groups – We love sharing with people who have similar heart and seeing each other empowered.

Adoptive Families – We’ve adopted 3 times now and have a special heart for adoptive families.  We know that you have a heart to sow back into your child’s homeland.

MOPS Groups – As mothers of preschoolers, we find you to be some of the most kind hearted women towards fellow moms of preschoolers who happen to have a different set of challenges simply because of geography.

Small Groups – We love to meet with small groups who are concerned about making a practical difference in the world around them.

Business Groups – We love to talk to business groups who long to see a difference made in a different culture and to see the poor empowered.

4. What if we want to have The Shannons share with our group?

We invite you to contact us at info@EmbracingHopeEthiopia.com.   In some parts of the country our dates are already filling up, but please check in with us.  We especially are looking for folks in Indiana, Columbus, Ohio and Chicago right now.  Please get in touch soon!




Jun 13

New Online Store Launches Today!

Check out our new Online Store showcasing handicrafts made by EHE Moms.  It is found at:



For the first 13 orders of $50 or more, we’ll include a free tote bag printed with EHE’s logo when your order ships (styles vary as to what yours will look like. a sample of one style is below).  These were selling in our old store for $15 – $20 each.  But we only have 13 of them left – so hurry.


These were selling in our old store for $15 – $20 each.  But we only have 13 of them left – so hurry.

You also can view selected items from our store through Facebook.  On our Facebook page, click  on Social Store.  Please spread the word.  Every purchase helps to provide for Moms, preserve families and prevent orphans!


Apr 09

EHE’s North American Tour 2014

The Shannon Family is going to be taking EHE on the road this summer/fall and we would love to come share the work of Embracing Hope Ethiopia in a city near you.  Would you like us to come to your area?
Late July through Mid-October. us_canada_map
We are looking for the opportunity to get in front of churches, adoption groups or even living rooms full of people.  We are amazed at all God has been doing in the lives of families who live on the edge and we can’t wait to share it.
The purpose of our tour is to raise awareness about orphan prevention and family preservation as well as to find sponsors for the 66 new families that we will be adding to the project soon.
If you would be interested in having us visit and you can help us to create a place where EHE could be promoted, drop us an email at jerry@EmbracingHopeEthiopia.com .
Help us to start filling in our map!
We are hoping to pull our route together over the next month, so please get in touch soon!
Thank you for helping us to pull together the EHE Tour, Late Summer 2014.

Mar 26

Announcing EHE Spiritual Ministries!


Over the past 3  years of our work in Ethiopia, we have seen incredible transformation come to Moms and their children as families were preserved.   God has given us incredible opportunities to share His love in deed daily.  It has been beautiful to offer a holistic response.

However, over that time one area where we have been lacking in our holistic response is a limit on our ability to minister spiritually to Moms and children.  We always have had the understanding that spiritual transformation must occur in order for true transformation from the inside out to take hold.  However, due to a legal separation between development work and spiritual work in Ethiopia, we have been limited in our ability to share Jesus in word.

Ministrylicense - Mar 24, 2014, 1-26 PMBut now, our time has come to be able to start sharing Jesus in word, too.  After 5 months of paperwork, we received our license this past week for Embracing Hope Ethiopia Ministries.  This will give us opportunities to now share the Good News of Jesus Christ in word both here in Kore’ but also in other areas around Addis Ababa and beyond.

Now, we can truly minister the whole Gospel to the whole person – emotional, physical, relational, intellectual and spiritual.

Please join us in praising God for the new opportunities that He is opening up to us both through Embracing Hope Ethiopia Development and Embracing Hope Ethiopia Ministries.

If you would like to give towards the launching of our Spiritual Ministries, please click here and choose General Fund.  In the Notes, you can mark Spiritual Ministries.

Thank you for your continued prayers!

Mar 22

Family Sponsorship – Help us to get Mehalet and Habtam sponsored.

Help us to focus on seeing our families get sponsored one at a time.  By doing so, you are helping us to make room to serve more moms.

Mahelet and Habtam

Mahelet and Habtam

Today, Help us to find sponsors for Habtam and his mother Mehalet.   Habtam is 2 1/2 years old.  Mehalet is 28 years old, illiterate, and without resource to keep her family intact and healthy without the partnership that EHE provides.

Maybe you are able to sponsor them.  If so, jump in at $34, $68. $102 or $136 per month.  If so, Click on this link and sign up.

If not, please engage your networks and help advocate for sponsorship for                  .  Spread the word.  Talk about EHE.  Help others to see the importance of preserving families and preventing orphans – one family at a time.

Maybe this sounds like too much commitment.  We get that.  Would you consider making a donation to our fund that helps support those families who do not yet have full sponsorship.  To do so, Click here and put your gift in as Family Sponsorships.

Your partnership means so much to us!  Thank you!



Mar 18

Unfinished Business

We need your help.  

We are on the edge of expanding and we have some unfinished business.  We have over 35 sponsorship slots posted on our website that we need to find sponsors for.  We have an additional 40 sponsorship slots that need filled within the project because people have needed to discontinue sponsorship for financial or personal reasons.

Here is how you can help us today..

 1. Choose to sponsor one of the families.  $34 per month will cover one sponsorship slot or $136 per month covers all expenses for a family.  Families like Yeabsera & Yebrigual  are posted now on our website www.embracinghopeethiopia.com/sponsorships

Yeabsera & Yebrigual
Yeabsera and Yebrigual

 2.  Spread this video about sponsorship far and wide.   Post it on Facebook.  Show it to your small group.  Share it around the office.  Show it to your church.  Help us spread the word about how orphans can be prevented and families preserved.  It truly does change lives.

3.  Call your networks to action.  Talk to your Sunday School class.  Challenge your MOPS group to care about seeing mothers of preschool children in other parts of the world cared for.  Spread the word through adoption forums.   Here is a chance for people to make a tangible difference with their resources.

4.  Pray.  Our proposal to expand to 188 children is sitting in front of officials as I write this.  We’ll soon be opening up our doors to serve another 66 Moms and children who are in need.  Pray for us, for the gov’t officials and the families whom we’ll soon have the privilege of partnering with.

Thank you for partnering with us!


Nov 02

Thoughts on Orphan Sunday

Tomorrow is Orphan Sunday.  It is great opportunity to pray for orphans and widows throughout their world and again highlight their plight and ask God what our responsibility is to them.  Even here in Addis Ababa we will be praying for them tomorrow.  We will pray for them and then within seconds be confronted by the reality of their situation as we exit our church compound.

Orphan Sunday brings up a number of reflections for me.  I am an adoptive dad – now having welcomed 3 Ethiopian children into our family.   I am an advocate for family preservation – having seen a program birthed that now keeps 122 children in their families who otherwise had great likelihood of being orphaned.  I am a pastor whose heart breaks for the poor, and  long to see more Jesus followers engaged in serving their needs in Jesus’ name. And  I am a skeptic who has seen a lot of good and a lot of harm done in the name of working to meet orphans and widows in their distress.

Christy and I first started talking about adoption before we were even married.   I believe that God planted a seed in both of us that we someday would adopt a child.  It took over 10 years of being married before I was even willing to journey down that road.  We started the process in 2007 and I started researching.   It got into my blood that we were going to invest a lot of money and travel the whole way around the world and rescue a child out of their despair and return them to live the good life in America.   On top of that I became judgmental in wondering why everyone else was not rescuing children too. I have since repented of those attitudes.   Adoption was God’s instrument not mine.  God was going to add to our family through adoption and make it so much richer.  In essence He was going to rescue my family from our own self-centeredness in the process.   It was costing our daughter to come into our family.  She was leaving her family roots, people who look like her, her homeland, her culture, and her language.  This was no rescue.   Rather this was a gift that God was inviting us into that needed to be stewarded well.

One year after adopting we felt compelled to move to Ethiopia where we started Embracing Hope Ethiopia.  Within a short time of arriving in Ethiopia we saw the plight of the “widow.”  We watched as mothers who had been abandoned or widowed were faced with trying to beg enough for their child to eat so that the child could stay in their family of origin.  It was harsh and tragic.  We chose to do something.  We wanted to see families preserved.  God placed those children into a family, so didn’t it make sense that we do everything within our power to see those families preserved.  We wanted to see Kids raised with their moms, not with a different mom.   It got deep inside of me.

Like imagining that adoption was a quick fix to the orphan problem, I also thought that providing childcare would be a quick fix for orphan prevention.   Before even opening I was confronted with the multiple layers of poverty, injustice, need, corruption and needs for dignity restoration.   We had started to peel back a layer of the onion, but it was going to be an incredibly long process for us to get to the center.   In the long run we knew that Moms and children would need to come to know Jesus in order to see their poverty broken.  We also knew that it was going to be a long process before they would ever be ready to come to know Him.

Now this past summer we have adopted 2 more children.  Children for whom family preservation was not an option.  Children who add so much to our family and make us so much richer as a result.

What a ride it has been over these past 4 years.   Here are some things that I have learned…

1.  Adoption is an answer.  There are many children for whom the only way they will ever have a family is through adoption.  We are grateful for the way our family grew by 3 through adoption.

2.  Local Adoption is often a better answer than International.   If we can keep children in their home culture with loving families, I believe it to be an amazing solution.  Even here in Ethiopia the potential is here.   Interest is growing and in time our prayer is that it becomes easier.

3.  Family Preservation is the Future.   We have to stop children from being orphaned in the first place.  There is no excuse for moms to have to give up their children for economic or health reasons.  It is possible for us to walk alongside Moms and see them able to keep their children while also becoming sustainable.

4.  The numbers are skewed.   Consider the statistics for the number of orphans in Ethiopia.   While there are various estimates, some would claim that there are 5 million orphans in Ethiopia.   The problem is definition.   Many of those 5 million have either a mom or a dad surviving or a relative who is able to care for them.   In reality there are approximately 700,000 children in Ethiopia who have neither mom nor dad.   This is where Family Preservation comes in.  Sure, lets focus on the 700,000 who are double orphans and find an adoptive home for them either inside Ethiopia or internationally.   But for the other 4.3 million, we have to find other solutions to keep the family intact and to find champions for them inside Ethiopia.

5.  We cannot serve the orphan without serving the widow.  It is interesting to me how often we hear James 1:27 quoted and all we talk about is the orphan.   I believe James intention was for us to utter the orphan and the widow in the same breath.   We have to serve both.   It is difficult and ugly and messy.  Yet, it is the Kingdom life to serve both the orphan and the widow in their distress.  We don’t get to choose one over the other, in my opinion.

6.  Even the poorest of the poor Moms deeply and desperately love their children.  They would do most anything to make sure their children were being provided what they need.  If we couple that deep love with a partnership that can help them keep their children, I believe we have a powerful opportunity.

7.  There is a way forward and it takes all of us.   We need ministries and NGOs and churches and adoption agencies and government organizations and orphanages all working together.  Orphan and widow care is so multifaceted.  It needs multiple interventions.   Please pray that all can work as one and together we can meet the orphan and the widow in their distress and see them ministered to in holistic ways that point the way to Jesus.

Thank you for remembering the Orphan and the Widow on Orphan Sunday.

Sep 28

9 New Families!!

I am happy to announce that we have the privilege and honor of partnering with 9 New Families!   These Moms deeply love their children and we count it great joy that they have continually done whatever it took in order to keep their children.

Now, as we walk together, our prayer is that they can move towards a more sustainable situation while continuing to care for their own child.

Their situations range broadly.   We have one child who was referred to us by a hospital after having extensive leg surgery.  Others were found begging along the roadside.  Others showed up at our gate, like dozens of others who do so everyday, in hopes that we could partner with them to help them keep their children.

All of them are courageous moms who have made sacrifices to keep their kids because of their deep love for them.

We’ve posted a bit of information about all of them at www.EmbracingHopeEthiopia.com/sponsorships/  with the promise to post more information as their profiles are completed.

Please pass the word and help us to find sponsors for all of these families.  For now, here are their photos!

Kalkidan and Hareg

Mehalet and Yetayesh

Yeabsera and Medihanete

Besufekad and Enanu

Elbetel and Asnakech

Behimnet and Yenenesh

Biru and Mestawot

Enchalew and Shashe

Mahelet and Habtam

Thank you for partnering with us and with these new families!  Our project is now officially full and we covet your prayers as we look at the next chapter for EHE!


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