A Joyful Reunion on the Streets of Ethiopia

By Andy Warren, Apr 4, 2019

I walk to work most mornings. It is a little over two miles to my Ethiopia ACT office, and besides getting my exercise it helps me feel connected to the people and to the city where I live. It also keeps me out of the car and out of the traffic. I get to work a little sweaty, but I am also in a much more positive frame of mind.

This morning I was walking through Jemo, which is a huge area of government constructed apartment buildings. This is middle-class Ethiopia. As I crossed a street, a woman on the other side of the road stopped and stared at me with a huge smile on her face. She was a nicely dressed, middle-aged lady. I wondered if she was looking at someone behind me, but as I got closer it was clear she was looking at me. Because I’m white and there aren’t many non-Ethiopians in this part of Addis Ababa, I sometimes attract attention. I’m not sure why, but mentally ill, homeless people find me fascinating and for just a second I thought she might be one of them. But she didn’t fit the profile and when I crossed the street I realized she did look familiar, but I couldn’t remember how I knew her or her name.

She grabbed my hand and gave me a huge hug and said, “I’m Yerus!” I remembered. Yerusalem was one of our early Ethiopia ACT beneficiaries from the first community where we worked in Lideta. She was a young woman whose life had been turned upside down by HIV/AIDS. She had been working in the Middle East and had to return to Ethiopia when she got sick. She was unable to work and had lost all hope. She lived in a tiny slum house made of mud and tin and had full-blown AIDS. Through the project she got medical care and was one of the first people we were able to get on treatment for HIV. Even before the medicines were free, we paid for her treatment. When she got healthy, we hired her as one of our peer counselors. She came to Christ and joined a church. This was about 15 years ago.

When the government tore down the community where Yerus lived and where we had worked for almost a decade, we made sure that all our families were able to support themselves and would be able to care for themselves without support from the project. Yerus had a job and we knew she was doing okay.

Today, Yerus told me that she owns her own apartment and has a government job. She is healthy and doing well and has become solidly middle class. As we stood in the street catching up, she asked about Bev and our children and other missionaries who worked in the project in the past. Over and over she said how thankful she was for us and how much she loved us and how thankful to God she is for the ACT project.

I have felt good all day. God is good and faithful, and to have a reminder like this was a wonderful blessing.

Andy Warren is an MTW missionary and the director of Ethiopia ACT. Ethiopia ACT serves the most marginalized residents of Addis Ababa. Visit the Ethiopia ACT project to learn more.

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