Child Survival Program (CSP) – Ethiopia 2013

cspThis story is about our time with the Compassion Child Survival Program mothers and children:

It is Tuesday morning and we spend time with the young mothers and babies who are part of the Child Survival Program at the Compassion Project. Individual sponsorship of children begins at age four. This is a “feeder program” into the individual sponsorships and draws young moms from the community providing Bible teaching, training on health and hygiene, and socialization. They meet twice a week.

Zinash oversees this ministry. She is a calm and warm single mom with a quick smile. She has an 8-year-old daughter and lives with her parents in Addis Ababa. She is in the third year, out of five, studying to become a pediatrician. So her medical training, Christian faith, and life experience make her a wonderful leader of this program!

We gather in a rectangular room with benches around the walls and a couple of long tables in the middle of the room: our TLC Ethiopia team (13), about 25 moms with their babies, and a few staff from the church.

The message I prepared for them was from Genesis 16: the story about Hagar. Hagar had no status, likely no education, not even control over her own body. When she became pregnant, she “began to despise her mistress,” so she wasn’t nice, either. Sarah cast Hagar out. But God, pursued Hagar. He found her and let her know that he saw her situation and he cared for her. Hagar named Him “the God who sees me.” God sees these young moms, too. He knows each situation. He sees their tears. He wants a personal relationship with them.

Then from Isaiah 49:15, “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!” says the LORD. Many of the moms are nursing babies (literally and quite openly) as I am telling this story. Other babies are squirming and making the sounds of little ones worldwide! My TLC team tells me that many of the moms are focused and concentrating on what I am saying through Yoseph, my translator.

I say, “Even as your body responds when you hear your child cry from another room; just as you search and find your child in the dark when you hear him cry; your Heavenly Father sees you, hears you, and searches for you. He will not forget you!”

I end with an invitation for anyone to invite Jesus to come into her life, forgive her sins, and be LORD of her life. No one comes forward or raises her hand. But I know I delivered the message God gave me, and I know that seeds are planted. I give it all to God.

Then two mothers step forward and give personal testimonies of their faith in God and how the CSP program is helping them. We are all blessed.

We close in prayer and walk to a nearby room, called the “Chat Room.” It is about 10×10 and filled with toddlers and mamas! No furniture, but some simple toys and a couple of tricycles are there. Everyone sits on the floor: moms, toddlers, and our TLC team. Happy sounds, mostly, fill the room with the occasional holler of a child who wants his own way.

We end the morning giving little carved wooden cars that were provided by one of our TLC church members to the children. The children and the parents are thrilled! I take many pictures, and the mamas wrap their children onto their backs with shawls and walk home. God is good!

The papa above was the only male, and the mama to the right revealed that she has AIDS. She asked for prayer for the care of her little one when she passes. Please ask God to give these parents wisdom and pray that the little ones learn and believe in God at an early age.

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