We’ve all experienced pivotal moments in our lives where we come away with the realization we are forever changed. One such event for me was a two week visit to Ethiopia back in 2006. Remembering the people we met and programs visited ignites my heart once more for the daunting mission of addressing physical and spiritual poverties worldwide. The following story was originally written for my church team supporters. As I re-read it today, I remember Sarah. I remember how her absolute trust in God’s loving heart of compassion and provision floored me. I remember how her words fanned the flame of passion already sparked in my heart to pursue restoring dignity to the poor. I remember how her hope overflowed to me as I saw what God had done in her life through such an amazing program.
Revisit her with me. Here is a brief account, written in 2006:
Sarah is an HIV/AIDS positive beneficiary of Bringing Hope, the Food for the Hungry HIV/AIDS prevention and care program which works mainly through churches, care groups and trained volunteers to support people living with the disease. A widow with two children, Sarah is living in an impoverished overcrowded city where HIV/AIDS continues to ravage lives. Through the program she received small business training and seed money to open a small store where she sells sugar, wheat, candy, toys and other various items. Her business has done well; well enough in fact she is starting a second location and will now have a chain of stores. She has thrived in an area where stigma of HIV/AIDS has caused many to be fearful of anyone living with the disease. With the encouragement and support of Bringing Hope care group, she has openly and courageously told her neighbors of her positive status. The impact of her success has been seen in her community as she is now able to afford anti-retroviral drugs for her condition and can keep her children in school.
Visiting Sarah filled my heart with hope. As she shared her story, I was struck by her determination to succeed and desire to work hard. Though given every reason to despair, she accepted the opportunity to fight her poverty and realize her dream. While sitting on her bed which took up the majority of her small one room shop and home, I noticed a small poster on her wall of Jesus knocking on a door. When asked what this picture meant she joyfully expressed how Jesus had knocked on the door of her heart, entered and was now living there. Sarah is a testimony of the power of Jesus Christ to break the chains of spiritual and physical poverty.