Discovering Jesus Through Jemo
An Update on our Ethiopian Partnership
By Troy Reno
As I ponder back to September 9th, 2012, I remember being very nervous about launching our partnership with a small Christian community called Jemo. After all, it was half way around the world in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. After all, as a church, we had never really immersed ourselves into such a large and unknown undertaking. I was not sure if our church of around 200 members could sponsor 150 children. I didn’t know if we could provide these children with proper nutrition, education and basic medical care. Do they have clean water? Can we help provide them with clean water? Can we make their community safe for travel, especially during the rainy season? Is the Jemo church compound a safe place in general for the kids? All of these questions were rattling around in my head. Frankly, it was keeping me awake at night.
Fast forward one year. Maybe I shouldn’t have worried so much. Maybe I should’ve had more faith from the beginning. Shouldn’t I know by now that God pulls off amazing feats with what seems like very little? The feeding of the 5000 with five small barley loaves and two small fish comes to mind. Maybe I am a slow learner, but I am learning. I am learning to have more faith. I am learning that God wants me to take more risks. I am learning that one of the best ways to discover more about Jesus is to participate by being his hands and feet wherever there is need. This past year our Jemo partnership has been nothing short of amazing thanks to the miraculous work God is doing through our congregation and others.
- The Jemo Partnership launched on September 9th, 2012. More than 100 children were sponsored on launch Sunday. A HUGE success!
- Over $9,000 was raised for the Jemo Nutritional Fund during the “Change Their Story” Christmas campaign. These funds are being used to provide children and their families with take-home supplemental food on a monthly basis.
- In February some of the sponsorship funds were used to buy each child a sorely needed pair of shoes. This was possible due to the high level of sponsorship in such a short period of time.
- On April 5th, we held our first Jemo Banquet. The guest speaker was Ben Savage from Children’s HopeChest. The banquet raised over $13,000 for the Jemo project.
- In late April, we achieved 100% sponsorship of the original 150 children available.
- In May, we took our first mission trip to Jemo. A wonderful team of 14 individuals were able to spend precious time building relationships with the children and leaders of the Jemo community.
- While at Jemo in May, the mission team was able to help start the building of a masonry wall, fence and drainage system along one side of the compound. Funds raised from the Jemo banquet were used for this project.
- In late May, we learned that 50 more children were approved for enrollment in the Jemo program. To date, 6 have been sponsored; there are 44 children left to be sponsored.
- In June, we learned that the masonry wall, fence and drainage system was completed. This project provided local Jemo men with temporary work and income which benefited their families greatly.
- In June we started raising funds to provide the children with uniforms. Children cannot attend school without uniforms. The uniforms will not be purchased until we have raised enough to provide one to each sponsored child. To date, we have raised 60% of the funds needed.
- In June, we also started raising funds for a cobble stone road project. We have raised 40% of the funds needed for this project. The Jemo community and the local government are paving the road as funds become available. The first phase has been completed on the steepest and most dangerous part of the road.
- The next Jemo mission trip dates have been set for May 9 – 17, 2014. There are 25 spots available. A $250 deposit is required to reserve a spot.
The above list is quite impressive. It is filled with amazing accomplishments and future opportunities. Judging by the list, it is hard to believe that only one year has passed since our Jemo partnership started. But should it be that hard to believe? Shouldn’t we all know better by now? How many times have we all heard that anything is possible when we place our trust in God? I truly believe that I and many others have more deeply experienced the spiritual workings of Jesus through the Jemo project. Discovering Jesus is our theme this fall at Bismarck Community Church. The Jemo partnership offers many opportunities to grow in our faith and to discover Jesus in whole new way. I highly encourage everyone to get involved.