“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
If you’re like me, you probably never heard of Korah, Ethiopia until Pastor Ron introduced us to the men, women and children living half-way around the world in a garbage dump.
Oh, they must live near the dump, not in a dump. And there’s lots of places around here that are pretty dumpy.
No, these people, made in God’s image, are living on an actual trash heap, under tarps and cardboard shelters. Their “job opportunities” consist of begger, prostitute or vendor. Adults and children alike scavenge the refuse for things to sell – plastic, tin, aluminum – hopeful to buy some bread that will feed their entire family.
The village of Korah was formed years ago to banish those with leprosy, an affliction that no longer exists in developed countries because of antibiotics – a simple cure that’s available for less than $100. Many adults die because of illness and lack of food, leaving orphans to repeat the same cycle. But their chances are even worse – children under 5 years old were not even eligible for sponsorship because their mortality rate was so high – until now.
“Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God.”
Today, against the backdrop of the garbage pile is a beacon of hope, a small church with 2 rooms, called Faith Living Church International. Nourishing the body and soul with nutritious food and the living water of Jesus Christ, FLC International is restoring families, healing illness, and rescuing people from their bleak existence, thanks to our sponsorship and donations. And now, for the first time, one year-old twins are available for sponsorship.
What started with our church sponsoring 185 children in the spring of 2013, has grown to a program that now feeds 310 children one nutritious meal each day and teaches them about the love of Christ. After various ups and downs, complications and struggles of dealing with the middle-men of sponsorship organizations, Pastor Ron found someone with the heart, humility and passion that we could work with directly. Faith Living Church International was founded in May 2014 by Pastor Tatek along with his wife Meseret and his assistant Tsinsalem.
What exactly does sponsorship include?
Sponsorship provides one meal a day, six days a week. It also includes basic medical care, school registrations and uniforms. This fall we also provided backpacks with school supplies – a notebook, pen, pencil, eraser, scissors. The cost of which, including the bag and uniform was about $14 to $19 per child.
We also bought a large event-type tent so that all the children could have shelter while attending the program. Only half the children can fit inside the building, and the tent kept them all dry during their rainy season which is June through August.
Pastor Tatek and his staff take attendance every day, scan the information and send it to Sue Bradley in the FLC office. He is in constant communication with Sue and provides almost daily updates with photos.
“Tatek is used to being the pastor of a church of 40 people. Now he is the Pastor of 80 and an administrator of a program for 310 kids,” says Sue. “He is learning so much. We tell him to take a day off once in a while.”
Sue is helping Pastor Tatek and staff learn how to take attendance, organize the children according to age groups and have the older ones help lead the younger ones.
Pastor Tatek provides a Sunday morning church service and meal, Sunday afternoon disciple team meetings, and a Sunday evening prayer service. As part of our support, FLC provides salaries for Pastor Tatek and a staff of 12, including a nurse. But we are their only support. And right now, only one-third of the 310 in the program are sponsored. The other two-thirds are covered by FLC’s general fund. And there are 62 children on a waiting list.
“And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.”
Inviting someone to church or telling them about Jesus is not as easy as it is here in the U.S. But Pastor Tatek invites any children who are hungry and need a meal. On Christmas 2014, he wrote a letter to parents, which basically said, “If your children are hungry they are more than welcome to come to my church. If they come to my church, they are going to hear about Jesus Christ. If you don’t want them to hear about Jesus Christ don’t send them to my church.” They all came.
They want to come and they are hungry not only for food but for the hope of Jesus. If all 310 children were sponsored, the extra funds could go towards a down payment on land, more church services, more medical care and even planting new churches, which is what Pastor Tatek has done already with the second Faith Living Church International. The story of its beginnings can be found here.
We are making a difference half-way around the world, feeding the hungry and saving the lost. Other pastors say they’ve never seen a program like this. Children are inviting their parents to church saying, “I trust Jesus and you need to trust Jesus too.” But let’s not stop here. Let’s sponsor all the children in the program and then some. Let’s get them out of the garbage dump.
For those of you who are currently sponsoring children you can write to them:
c/o Tatek Kifetew
Box 2204 (Do not include ‘P.O.’)
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
For those of you who would like to sponsor a child, you do not have to be a member of FLC to do so. Go to our sponsor page for more information.