Serving God's People in Africa since 1868

Help Provide for the Education of Children in Ethopia

Whenever another New Year begins, a lot of people make resolutions. Some of us decide to make seemingly small changes — such as spending more time reading and less time watching television. Others are determined to implement not-so-simple changes such as giving up smoking or losing weight. Whatever we decide to do, though, most experts agree that even the most drastic changes start with a small step.


Dear John,

Whenever another New Year begins, a lot of people make resolutions. Some of us decide to make seemingly small changes — such as spending more time reading and less time watching television. Others are determined to implement not-so-simple changes such as giving up smoking or losing weight. Whatever we decide to do, though, most experts agree that even the most drastic changes start with a small step.

And often it is these seemingly small steps which begin a lifelong process of change.

Recently, I received a letter from Fr. Bonaventure, our local superior in Ethiopia, on behalf of Sr. Vivane Rasoanirina, a missionary living and working in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in East Africa. There, Sr. Viviane works among young people — in hopes of providing them with the support, encouragement and skills they need to live out their Christian faith. But it is a daunting mission!

Even among men and women living in the most developed countries, when life presents overwhelming obstacles and difficulties our faith in God can be challenged. In such a harsh environment as can be found in Ethiopia — the challenges to faith can be overwhelming. When poverty and disease are rampant, when famine and food insecurity are a part of everyday life, it can be easy to feel that God has abandoned humanity.

“The young people here need to know they are not alone,” Sr. Viviane explains. “They need us to accompany them in their daily lives … to meet with them in their communities on a weekly basis and encourage their development in the Christian faith. Young people in Ethiopia are in great need of pastoral care. While they do attend church on Sunday, there is a lack of comprehension of the faith.”

“What we are trying to do,” Sr. Viviane continues, “is to offer human and spiritual formation for the children and the youth from 5 to 30 years old through meetings, recollections, retreats and camps, games and charity activities so to accompany them in their daily lives.”

“It is a challenge!” he explains. “We have to use the people’s language which is mostly Amharic. We have tried to write some formation materials in Amharic or translate some useful books in the mentioned language, but all of these efforts are more than we can afford . . .

but if we are to save these young people — to help them build hope for better lives, it is work that must be done.”

My friend, I was truly moved when I read Sr. Viviane’s letter. She and other missionaries in Ethiopia are working to help children have better lives — to help educate them and help them to develop a greater understanding and appreciation of their Christian faith … to help them see the depth, treasure and richness in the faith which will sustain them through the good times as well as struggles of their lives.

In many ways, this work is as important as anything else that we could ever do!

In her letter, Sr. Viviane has enclosed a budget listing the materials needed to continue this vital work for the Ethiopian children. In order to reach out to the children in her region, she needs to establish an office (including computer equipment) as well as provide financial support for the retreats and programs aimed at reaching as many boys and girls as possible. In total, it will cost nearly $20,000 — just for those in one region. I am hoping that we can raise at least $40,000 so that children in other areas can be helped as well.

You have been and continue to be so generous in supporting the work of our missionaries throughout Africa. I am praying that we can count on you once again. Whether your gift is large or small, please know how much your kindness and caring mean to those in need. God bless you and your loved ones for all that you do.