In my last few posts, you've encountered through story, photos and video, firsthand experiences of Addis Ababa's poorest area: Korah. I've talked about the leper colony, the HIV patients and the city dump as well as the Great Hope Church. I've also talked about a friend I've met, Sammy. In this post, I want to introduce you to Sammy, a kid who grew up in the leper colony, ate out of the trash dump every day and help start / found Great Hope Church after he was led to Christ through the ministry known as Young Life. I met Sammy in Ethiopia because he was my translator. In getting to know him, I really grew to know his heart and his passion: ministry to outcasts. My desire is to help Sammy go to school so that he can better serve the 80,000 lepers, prostitutes, HIV/AIDS patients, orphans, etc. that he lives among. In Ethiopia, Sammy can get a full, 4-year education in ministry from an accredited theological college for only $400 a year, that's $1600 for 4 years, which covers his entire tuition!!! So, I'm wondering if there's anyone out there who'll help? It only costs Sammy $40 to take a 3-hour credit class! If 40 of us put up $40 each, we could put Sammy through school! Can you help? Would you help? Watch the video below, where I asked Sammy why he wanted to go to school. Then, if you want to donate to the cause, you can! Below the video is also some of Sammy's story. Please, please, please, let's help Sammy!
A man named Chuck Rinehold founded Young Life in Ethiopia. When he first came to Addis Ababa with his group of ministers there was a guesthouse in the middle of the city in which he was supposed to stay. The plan was for him to start to work with a high school close to this guesthouse. When he got there, the guesthouse was full so he went to stay at the Baptist Mission Compound, which was located next to the Korah Community. One day he went with his group to check out what was near their compound and he noticed the smoke of the garbage dump. They wondered what was happening and decided to go and find out. When they reached the garbage dump, they were utterly shocked to see the people fighting for the food that had been dumped there. The kids who were fighting were also shocked to see these foreigners in the garbage dump – why would they come to such a place as Korah?
Chuck approached these kids and introduced himself. After spending some time with them, he and his team returned to their compound at which time Chuck decided his work in Ethiopia should be with these kids in Korah. He knew Young Life only worked with kids in high school but his heart had been so touched that he decided he would do things differently and work with these kids who had no school. He worked with Young Life in Korah from 1999 until 2001, offering the youth of Korah much hope through the message of Jesus, opportunities for school and other means to develop into ministers themselves. One of these youth was the son of Liben, Samuel.
Samuel spent the majority of his childhood struggling to get the food he and his family needed from the garbage dump. When he was 12 years old, he and some of his friends decided to go and join the war between Ethiopia and Eritrea. They wanted to get their food from the military, which was their motivation for joining the army. They were sick and tired of always fighting for the leftovers that could sometimes be found in the garbage dump.
On the way to register for the army, they crossed the compound where Young Life started the ministry. They saw a lot of the U.S. Young Life Leaders hanging out with the kids from the Korah community. Samuel had never seen American people with the kids of his community – kids of lepers. He and his friends stopped to watch what was going on. While Samuel was watching, one of the Americans named Ross Bebbe waved at him, so Samuel looked back to make sure he was indeed waving at him. Samuel had grown up waving at the previous missionaries who had lived at this compound only to receive no response back, so when this American waved at him, Samuel was very intrigued. As he wondered, Ross crossed the street and came close to Samuel and his friends. He then shook Samuel’s hand and introduced himself. At that moment Samuel became overwhelmed with excitement because of this attention that Ross was showing him. Ross invited Samuel to play Frisbee with him, so he stayed at the compound to have fun with his new friend. After some time, Ross invited Samuel to come to the Young Life Club to have more fun. When Samuel went home he told his mom everything that had happened.
The next day Samuel went to the first Young Life Club meeting held in Korah and became even more excited to be a part of this amazing group of people. While there, Chuck Rinehold gave a speech that contained scripture and which touched Samuel’s heart. It was Matthew 8, the story where Jesus hugged and healed the leper. For Samuel, this portrayal of Jesus and his compassion for a leper was amazing because he had never heard of or seen anyone who cared for those with leprosy. At that moment Samuel began to weep. He went home and told his mom the whole story about Jesus and they cried together.
Samuel decided to stay and be a part of the Young Life Club and Ross Bebbe began to disciple him, help him and teach him English. After this time, Samuel became a Young Life Leader himself and began reaching out to his own community of Korah. Now Samuel is continuing his ministry in Korah through his work with The Great Hope Church. He visits HIV and leprosy infected people, the kids who are collecting food from the garbage dump and other desperate people in Korah. He only brings with him the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the hope, which only comes from Jesus Christ.