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!