Ashagre has a God-sized story that continues to unfold in amazing and inspiring, new chapters. We met Ashagre on our first trip to Addis Ababa in June 2013. Honestly, while his childlike mannerisms and contagious smile softened our hearts, his rough exterior and “street” face kind of scared all of us.
His life changed dramatically through tragedy when he was only 12 years old. While he always knew a life of poverty (his dad a beggar, his mom a prostitute), the night thieves stole his father’s groceries, beat him up and sliced his eyes leaving him blind changed the dynamic of Ashagre’s family. With his father blind, he was not able to provide the way he used to for his family. Forced to move into a smaller “home” (a space large enough for two twin beds side by side with a narrow space between), there no longer was room for Ashagre. So, at 12 years old, he moved to the trash dump. He not only worked there collecting thrown away plastic containers to help his parents with rent and food, but he also lived there amidst the endless piles of city trash with hundreds of other trash dwellers, people who burrowed spaces within the trash piles and called it “home”.
Today, after serving as a “Big Brother” in the I AM not 4gotten Judah House for three years, Ashagre works as the I AM not 4gotten Shop Keeper. He is married to his long time sweetheart, and they have a sweet baby boy. God has done and is doing an amazing work in this young man’s life. “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jer. 29:11
God allowed us to be in Ethiopia when four of our boys were baptized. In fact one of our team members was the one to baptize them and it all happened in the upstairs bathroom of our first home. This is what keeps us going back: to see lives transformed through the forgiveness of Jesus Christ.
Meet Tigest. I love that her name means patience. This was her patiently waiting so she could offer us hospitality. I have learned these people love to invite us into their homes. Ethiopians are very hospitable people. This is her son Sodiyas. I sat and listened to Tigest’s story unfold. I kept watching her eyes. There was something in those eyes. Her gaze wasn’t like the last Tigest I had met who had hopelessness written into her countenance. When I looked at this Tigest, though her story was gut wrenching, though she had known violence and abuse, she told her story with a smile. She couldn’t always do that. There had been a time in her life she had been on the edge of suicide. Death and the taking of her own life was calling out to her. Her husband had abused her. Her husband had been thrown into prison. She had been thrown to the streets. She had nowhere to go. She had no one to take her in. She had nothing. She felt her life was worthless. A Christian man came along and offered to pay her rent. The office of Women’s and Children’s Affairs told her “IAMNOT4GOTTEN ASSOCIATION” would help support her child. God showed her the love of Jesus Christ through the hands and feet of Jesus. Tigest believed in the Lord Jesus Christ because she had been visibly shown the love of Jesus Christ. Tigest could tell her story with a beautiful smile because she had the HOPE OF JESUS CHRIST living inside of her. Just like Hagar in the Old Testament, Tigest had fled abuse and violence, and El Roi, THE GOD WHO SEES, looked down and saw this beautiful child and rescued her from taking her own life.
“When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit.” “How do you know me?” Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.””John 1:47-48 NIV
Her story does not end there. We are beyond excited and SO proud of this precious Momma! See that smile...that's joy.. . Tigist just got her new supplies and cookware so she can start working her own lil business! I had the privilege of meeting her and her little boy this past March. Let me tell ya....her story has been filled with pain and heartache. But the Lord is making beauty out of ashes.. Thanks to our amazing sponsors @tonicarrigan and @tcarrig17...this beautiful girl will be able to provide for herself and her son! This is what it's all about... love, dignity, hope️️️. Tigist just needed someone to walk beside her...to invest in her..to believe in her! The Lord sees her..the Lord cares....and the Lord has NOT FORGOTTEN her!