Hope in Blindness

By Jessica Ringsmuth, Oct 26, 2015

One of the families that the Ethiopia ACT project supports is Aniley* and her two children, Baraket and Bekah. After joining our project, the family was referred to me for counseling because Aniley reported extreme fear and anxiety about her health situation and was having conflict with her children. Tilahun, the social worker serving this community, and I visited in her home and also at our office, and we began to understand her story.

About 10 years ago, Aniley was single and employed, working as the owner of her own cafe. Her husband had left, but she was doing well enough that when Aniley's brother asked if she could begin taking care of his son, Baraket, she agreed. Baraket arrived first, and then three years later, she also took his sister, Bekah, in.

Aniley enjoyed being a mother and taking care of the children as if they were her own. Eventually, she discovered she was HIV+, and around that time the building in which her cafe was located was torn down due to rezoning. People are often not compensated for such situations, and they are forced to rebuild elsewhere completely from scratch. Sometimes this happens without much notice. Aniley was unable to afford to restart her cafe, and began working odd jobs that didn't pay much. She was forced to find other housing, and the family now lives in a small, one-room shack.

Around this time, she also discovered that she had a degenerative eye condition which would eventually result in complete loss of her eyesight. Several months later, she did lose her eyesight completely, further compounding her fears and anxieties.

Through counseling, Tilahun and I first worked with her children, trying to hear from their point of view what the issues were in the family. God really blessed the session, and at the end, Baraket said, "I never knew there were foreigners like you out there, who really care and want to help us. I thought they just came to Ethiopia to give out coins and take pictures." I had tears in my eyes just hearing that!

Tilahun and I have also been able to meet with Aniley to encourage her to work through her feelings about being blind, her belief system that "I am cursed" so that is why this is happening, and to help her to communicate better with her children, who are helping to take care of her.

God provided John at just the right time
John Rug, an MTW missionary who ministers among those with disabilities in Chile, came to visit Ethiopia along with 17 other missionaries from other MTW ministries to learn about church planting and mercy ministry from our project. Part of their training was to do home visits in the community, so we took John to meet Aniley.

John has been blind his whole life, and he shared his testimony with Aniley. To our surprise, he even specifically asked her if she believed she was cursed. She said yes. He shared how it's OK to be blind, and that it's of no fault of hers that this has happened. God's love and plan for her life continues, and she can be a good mother and serve her family and community. By the end of the time together, she was smiling and holding her head up high. Tilahun and I were in disbelief. We'd never seen her do that!

Five days after John's visit, we followed up with Aniley. She still is having some conflicts with others, but her face seemed to be shining and she was much more open to our feedback. She even shared that she was learning to use the bathroom and walk around her compound without assistance! God brought His grace and help at just the right time through John's faithfulness.

It's these kinds of stories that really make me grateful for the opportunity to work in Ethiopia and for this project. I love getting to help bring hope to people that might not otherwise hear the truth that God's made them unique and with purpose, and that there's help for depression, fear, and anxiety.

Jessica Ringsmuth is a missionary and counselor serving with MTW in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

John Rug ministers to the differently enabled in Vina del Mar, Chile. 

*names have been changed


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Pray for the team in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, as national partners and MTW missionaries work hand in hand for a greater overall impact.

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Pray for the new church plant in Suki, a settlement where people struggle with deep poverty. A year after the church started meeting, dozens have become believers.

Pray for the impoverished community of Suki in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Our teams are serving people in this community to meet physical and spiritual needs.

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