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Shoes, Soccer, Sign Language, and a Savior

In Fiche, Ethiopia, 16-year-old Negash is known as a listro, or a “shoeshine boy”. While stopping to get your shoes polished and shined may sound strange or old-fashioned to people in the US, shoe shining is still a common practice in many parts of the world.

In urban parts of Ethiopia, it is very common to see rows of young boys on the streets with their wooden boxes full of shoe shining equipment. For many of these boys, shining shoes is the first step toward their own small business years down the road.

But for Negash, shining shoes allows him to help his family afford food to eat. His family’s only other income is from his father, a day laborer who suffers from chronic pain due to spinal cord problems. Negash’s mother has been deaf since she gave birth to him sixteen years ago and communicates only through sign language. Neither of Negash’s parents have the education to earn them a decent wage, so they must get by on very little.

Negash’s family lives in an unfinished house with no electricity or access to water. The house belongs to one of their relatives. Negash and his family were asked to guard the house in exchange for living there.

Negash and his ten-year-old sister would like to go to school, but their family cannot afford the school fees and uniforms for them to attend regularly.

Negash joined a neighborhood soccer team that played at the local church, just ten minutes’ walk from Negash’s home. There, he met Pastor Solomon Worku, who leads the community of believers at Fiche Addis Kidan Baptist Church.

When Pastor Solomon learned of Negash’s struggles, he reached out to the family with Food Paks. The family was understandably relieved to have the assistance.

“We had no nutrition at all,” Negash’s dad shared. “But now our kids can go to school at least having eaten breakfast.” The fact that Negash and his sister can afford to attend school at all has been a huge blessing for the family.

Pastor Solomon and his wife continue to visit Negash’s family at least twice a month. Negash still plays soccer with the kids at church and is eager to get more involved. He has received a Bible and enjoys spending time with people from the church and learning more about the gospel. Negash has even helped share the gospel with his mother by translating Pastor Solomon’s word into sign language.

“Our country’s situation is full of crisis,” shared Pastor Solomon. “But God’s grace was visible in our ministry, even though the food price inflation has reduced the amount of food we provide significantly. The families are grateful and blessed. It has opened a huge door for our ministry.”

Fiche Addis Kidan Baptist Church and hundreds of other churches around the world who are ministering to their communities through food, relationship, and the hope of the gospel are so thankful for people like you who support and pray for their ministries. Countless children just like Negash are learning about a loving Savior receiving eternal hope.

You can provide consistent support for families around the world by becoming a Hope Partner.


Recipients’ names have been changed to protect their privacy.

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