Ballinderry parishioner Shannon Boyd is a 21-year-old student whose voluntary work for Operation Rescue, a charity in Northern Ethiopia, has resulted in land being secured for a vital new centre for children.
The land is in a remote city named Maichew. Shannon has just returned from a visit to Maichew where she was able to pray on and for the land which will soon house a building which will transform young lives.
My name is Shannon Boyd. I am 21-years-old studying Early Childhood Studies at Stranmillis College Belfast. In May of 2016 I was able to visit Northern Ethiopia and spend two weeks volunteering with a charity called Operation Rescue.
Our local church in Upper Ballinderry has supported this work for many years and my Mum and siblings have been to Ethiopia on previous trips. My friend Cherith Watson and I travelled on our own from Dublin to Addis Ababa and onward to Makelle where we met the Operation Rescue team.
The initial feeling of abject hopelessness and the sight of desperate circumstances almost overwhelms you on an African visit. In Operation Rescue these feelings are soon overcome by an incredible awareness of God’s love being shared by the most gracious Christ-like people I have ever met.
Over 500 children are catered for in the Mekelle centre in various ways. Young children are in Kindergarten classes; teenagers visit for after-school learning classes. Orphan children are residents on site. Everyone is fed and offered clean washing facilities. Children are treated with dignity and valued as precious in the eyes of God.
Each session begins with devotions when the children are taught from the Bible and introduced to the Gospel message. The Operation Rescue team serves in an incredibly selfless manner witnessing a dependence on God that we in Northern Ireland know very little about.
Day-to-day practical requirements are sought through joyous prayers by them believing God will supply and meet the needs.
To witness such faith is an incredible privilege and life changing for both Cherith and I.
Both of us made great friends in a short time and made our way home believing we would be back.
Just before we began our journey home we asked the General Manager, Getachew Tesfay if there was something we could fundraise for to help grow the work. He shared a vision he had for the building of another centre in a really poor city called Maichew. This would be the fourth Operation Rescue centre in Northern Ethiopia.
The road to Maichew began to open up in front of us from this meeting onwards.
Returning home we approached the trustees and long-standing supporters of Operation Rescue and discussed the project. The challenge of raising over £200,000 is immense but after prayerful consideration it was decided to step out in faith believing God would provide.
It has been a joy to be involved and over the last year we have been making new contacts and introducing the project to new donors. Raising the profile of Operation Rescue is an on-going work for us as we try to introduce new donors.
Cherith and I returned to Makelle for the month of June 2017 volunteering among the cheeriest kids you could ever wish to meet.
I am just home from a week-long visit to Maichew. The local authorities have given 5,000 square metres to Operation Rescue and the new site is incredible. We were able to pray on and for this land.
We continue to pray that many children will attend the new centre when constructed and the Kingdom of God will be extended in an amazing way.
Anyone interested in learning more about this work please contact me on: Mobile 07786 295272; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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