Revelation 21:5 - My Ethiopian Son

And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.”

APPLICATION: Temam is a round-faced boy with a wide, white smile. When he sees me, he wraps his arms around my middle and whispers something in a language that sounds like music. In Ethiopian style, if we are together, he is hanging onto to me with one arm around my shoulder. I am unable to communicate much verbally to him, but I know he understands my special love for him when the other children start calling me "Temam's friend."

This trip I was fortunate enough to visit Temam at his home. In Roggie, having visitors to your home is an honor. Mainly I think because it takes great effort to visit someone's home. Temam lives in a thatched roof hut a few miles from the school. Our host, Getu, knew his mother and assured me she would love a visit from the team. We loaded into a Toyota pick-up and started the journey down a lopsided, dirt road meant for donkeys filled with laughing Americans and a few Ethiopian friends. Close to Temam's house, the road became so lopsided, we had to stop and walk the rest of the way.

Temam's house sits next to a hillside under the shade of an acacia tree. His mother and father were home and greeted us with hugs and handshakes. We were welcomed inside, and I lost count of how many people live in their home. One elevated bed with chicks living underneath, a fire, a bench...and Temam not wanting to leave my side even in his own home.

"Temam, who is your mother?" asked his own mother and my Ethiopian friend translated. Temam pointed to me.

"Temam, who is your father?" she asked again. Temam pointed to Keith.

"Heidi and Keith," he whispered.

I didn't even know he knew our names - let alone thought of us as his American mother and father.

I was overcome by love for this boy. I have loved him since the moment we became his sponsors. I easily fall in love with children, but this boy has captured my heart in a way that can only be from my Heavenly Father.

Returning to the states,  I am overcome by something else too. I ask God if I should ever return to Ethiopia. I ask if the effort is worth it. I wonder if I have anything to offer anyone there. I struggle knowing I haven't changed anything for them. The people I love still suffer greatly. They still deal with disease, lack of food, lack of medical care. I haven't changed anything.

But on our last day in Roggie, I said good-bye to Temam, and I asked him if his family were Christians or Muslims. I wanted to know because I want to enter into my Father's kingdom with Temam's arm wrapped around my shoulder and his family beside him. I want to see his bright, brown eyes look into the face of my Jesus. But his family is Muslim and when the pastor asked his class if any of them wanted to accept Jesus as their Savior, while many hands went up, Temam's hand did not.

I'm right. I can't change the suffering. I can't rescue every child. I can't bring them all home to live with me or go back to medical school or suddenly become wealthy enough to support an entire village. I can't sell all my belongings and move my family to Roggie. But I can help Temam come to know the One who can make everything new - the One who will someday remove all the suffering, all the tears, all the disease, all the starvation. all the distance between us.

I have a son who lives in a thatched roof hut in an almost forgotten Ethiopian village who doesn't know my Jesus. I don't need to have more reasons to return.