27 Days Ago…

This post was written by a dear friend of one of our board members. She was recently in Ethiopia and visited Korah. I (Tisha) asked her if she would be willing to share her experience with us. She agreed…
27 days ago my heart changed forever.  I cannot type this without crying.  My kids want to know what is wrong.  How could I tell an 8 and 5 year old?  I couldn’t.  Not yet anyway.  I need to do this.  I need to share what God allowed me to experience, but it’s just so hard.  Just keep typing…..just keep typing…..just keep typing. 
27 days ago my husband and I and a team from our church had the privilege of visiting Korah.  And I do mean it was a a privilege from the deepest part of my heart.  I think everyone should have to go there.  You’ll never see such love and loss in the same place anywhere else.  If I were a believer in this type of event, I’d be certain I had an out of body experience and then just returned home, trying to process what dream or other reality I just awakened from.  But I don’t believe in that type of thing.  I know for certain I was in Korah by God’s ordinance and he used that/is using that in His people for His glory.  We were truly there, no matter how foreign it seems.  My mind and heart are still there all the time.
27 days ago I saw things that I knew existed.  I’d read about them.  I’d seen pictures of them on the internet.  Did that prepare me?  Not in the least.  There’s an area in my heart that couldn’t be touched through pictures and words as it was through the touch of those people and through the contact made with my tear-filled eyes and through the biggest smiles you’ve ever seen.  Through the touch of a leper’s hand.  My heart longs to see them again.  Truly longs.
When Tisha asked me if I’d like to share about my time in Korah, I immediately thought to myself, “no way.”  I didn’t want to make myself think in depth about any of it or try to share it.  It’s very hard.  Maybe hard isn’t exactly the right word.  It’s deep.  It’s vulnerable.  I’d never want to give the impression that I wish I hadn’t gone there.  It’s quite the opposite.  Hang in there as I attempt to give you a small glimpse of my experience, and it is small.  I won’t go into everything.  We were only there for about an hour and a half or so.  It doesn’t matter.  It could’ve been 5 minutes or 5 days.  I lost all sense of time while there.  All sense of many things for that matter.
As we walked through the mud alleys of Korah, it was the most surreal I’ve ever felt.  Sometimes I still ask myself, “did I really go there and see what I saw?  Are those really human beings on Earth that I saw living like that?  Is that real?  Those are human beings!  How can this be?!?!”  We went with Pastor Tesfaye into the church.  It’s about the size of an average American living room and about 250 people go there each week to worship.  He’s telling us his story of how he grew up there and how he ministers there now.  It’s a testimony I’m not at liberty to share with you, but I pray someday he does share it with everyone.  It’s something to be heard to say the least.  It starts to rain hard, or at least it sounds hard on the tin roof, so we move into a smaller room where they teach the children.  We then go to a couple of homes in Korah to deliver care packages. 
The first family we deliver them to is a husband, wife, and daughter.  He is blind, but Tesfaye tells him about each item in the bags.  You can see the gratefulness in all of their hearts.  The smiles are contagious.  All of the children around us holding onto us are tugging at areas in my heart that I didn’t know existed.  We walk to the next home to take packages to a teenage girl and her parents.  I cannot hold it together.  I’m crying so hard and trying so hard to hold it back, but I can’t.  A young man that lives there grabs me and tells me it’s going to be ok.  They’re going to be ok.  I’m going to be ok.  The teenage girl is also so grateful. 
We go into a home.  The home is very small, and there are 20-30 people living in it.  It is as dark as night in there.  There is one small bulb trying to give light, but struggling greatly.  As my husband and I and a few other people go in, it is tight quarters to say the least.  There are 2 twin sized mattresses that each sleep 4 people curled up each night.  I can still see it all so clearly in my mind.  There’s an elderly woman sitting on one of the mattresses.  She keeps looking at me.  She stares at me and pats the bed next to her.  She wants me to sit with her.  I sit next to her and she embraces me and we just sit there together.  She looks at me as to say, “it’s ok.”  Here are people who have no earthly hope, only eternal hope.  Here are people just trying to exist, not even stay afloat.  Here they are and they’re telling me it’ll be ok?!?!  What a gift.  What a humbling gift.  As I’m sitting with her, I look on the floor and there’s a boy lying under a blanket.  Our eyes meet and he sits up.  He takes one hand out from under the cover.  He grabs my hand with it to say hello.  His hand is burning hot.  I am certain he is very ill with some disease and the nurse in me wants to take care of him.  The mother and heart in me wants to lie next to him and hold him.  As our eyes adjust to the light, or darkness rather, more and more eyes and faces appear in this room.  We can’t believe how many people are crammed into this home along with their very few belongings. 
As we are leaving Korah, we have a following of many people and children.  I didn’t want to leave.  I wanted to stay and talk to them.  I wanted to ask the woman that I sat with on the bed many questions.  I wanted to ask her how she does it.  How does she feel such rejection and abandonment and still smile and embrace others.  How did she minister to my heart when I’m the one who “has it all?”  She has nothing in the world’s eyes.  Less than nothing.  But she has a peace like no other.  It can only be from God and I pray she knows Him intimately.
God has taken me through very rough waters and valleys in my short 35 years.  I’ve lived through years of abuse, abandonment, drug and alcohol issues.  We went through an illness last year with our youngest that could have taken her life.  I’ve been through rough stuff.  My very short time in Korah is right up there with the roughest things God has ever brought me through.  Except this won’t go away.  This pulls at my heart several times each day and I praise God for it.  Praise Jesus that I got to see this.  Praise Jesus that we can minister to these people and they to us.  Praise God.
27 days ago my heart changed.  It wont’ be the same from here on out.  I long to see those people again.  I long to do something to further the kingdom of God in Korah.  I will be with many of those people someday again.  I pray the Lord takes our family back there again someday for His glory.  I know one thing for sure.  Someday we will look right into the very face of Jesus and praise Him and my brothers and sisters in Korah will be next to me.  I won’t long for them to have hope anymore.  I won’t long to change their lives anymore.  There will be a new Heaven and a new Earth.  Praise God that this is not our forever home.  
Thank you for allowing me to share my heart for Korah with you.  You wouldn’t know it by this post, but I’m one of the funnest people you’d ever meet:)  Please pray for these peoples’ hearts.  Many of them know the Lord, but many do not.  Praise God for Pastor Tesfaye who constantly reaches out to them.  Thank you thank you thank you.
~Sallie Smith