Ethiopia Journey Inspires Teacher to Do More

9 Jan

Nathan Livesay, a teacher at Sumter High School and former basketball coach, spent nearly two weeks of his Winter Break in Ethiopia with Journey 117, a ministry of World Orphans.


A trip out of the country can change a person.
“I wouldn’t trade those two weeks for a state championship,” said Nathan Livesay, a former Sumter High School basketball coach.
Last month, the English and credit recovery teacher traveled to Ethiopia with World Orphans, an organization that brings churches in Third World countries together with American churches to help supply basic needs of the children being cared for by the indigenous churches. He learned about the organization through the Willow Creek Global Leadership Development Summit simulcast held at Alice Drive Baptist Church in the fall.
“I was reading the statistics about HIV and AIDS, about people dying in extreme poverty, and the numbers really bothered me,” Livesay said. “I was compelled to go on this trip to put a name and face with the statistics. … Even with basketball, I’ve always had a heart for kids that don’t always have everything they need.”He contacted World Orphans and began the three-month process of preparing for a mission trip including raising a little more than $3,000 through “a garage sale, basketball lessons and the generosity of family and friends.”
“Our trip to Ethiopia was to uncover the plight of the orphaned and vulnerable children that inundate their streets,” said Kevin Squires, director of advocacy for World Orphans and leader of Livesay’s group. “Statistics show that there are approximately 6 million orphans in Ethiopia alone, so it begs the question, ‘What happens to them?’ Our goal was to look at the different types of care associated with orphan projects in order to become the best advocate we can be when we return home.”
The trip from December 8 through December 20 took the nine-member group first to Addis Ababa, the capital, and then to Wolliso, Ethiopia. They visited six orphanages, a church in a slum area, an AIDS hospital for children and a free daycare center taking on projects from painting dorms to organizing books, Livesay said.
“We left a tote of supplies, clothes, sports equipment, tools and toiletries at each site,” he said. “When possible we used some of our money for projects that needed to be done but that they couldn’t fund themselves. For example, at Hope for the Hopeless in Suluta, we purchased the paint that we used to paint their buildings.”
And if by chance something didn’t cost as much as they thought it would, the “extra” money went to the church.
“There was a couple at one church who couldn’t afford their rent,” Livesay said. “It was $2 a month. We gave $50 to that church. That can pay their rent for two years.”
They also interacted with the children at every site.
“Nathan has a true heart for children,” Squires said. “His vast experience in teaching and coaching clearly enabled him to not only care for the orphans of Ethiopia, but also give them a sense of empowerment. He spent a great deal of time listening to their stories, asking questions about their lives and simply encouraging them to continue their path to finding hope in Jesus Christ.”
He said the goal of trips like this one is to create “lifelong advocates for orphaned and abandoned children.”
“Many people go on mission trips to have their ‘eyes opened,’ but we focus on opening your ‘entire life’ to things that need to be changed on an everyday level,” Squires said. “How you spend your money, how you treat people, how you distinguish between your wants and needs and how you refocus your life on giving instead of receiving. These are hard lessons to learn, especially when the ‘American Dream’ has so often been focused on getting what you can get from a free society. When you brush shoulders with the poorest of the poor in the known world and likewise realize that you have so much to give, it is just so hard to return home with that idea of ‘getting what you can get, while you can.'”
It worked for Livesay.
“I’m grateful I’ve been blessed with an education, the way I was raised, that I have a job, a house and car,” Livesay said. “These people don’t have anything, and I have a closet full of everything. … I want to be more intentional about my time, talent and money, especially as a Christian. I don’t want to live only about me when people are starving to death and dying of disease we never encounter because of sanitation and doctors on demand.”
He was especially inspired by one small church that had 10 children it helped on site, 10 more at another site, 20 the church had adopted and another 30 they were supplying with school supplies.
“If they can do that, what can I do?” Livesay said.
He isn’t sure what it will look like yet, but he definitely plans to do another mission trip. He is also interested in raising money for one of the orphanages he visited, Hope for the Hopeless.
“They want to expand their school,” Livesay said. “Right now they bus kids across the city. It would really help their mission.”
Not only as an educator but as a father of a 6-year-old daughter and a 4-year-old son, seeing children in these situations moved him.
“Going into these homes, seeing these kids in poverty as the result of AIDS, forced labor and trafficking put a name to those numbers,” Livesay said. “I don’t know how I could not want to do something.”


One Response to “Ethiopia Journey Inspires Teacher to Do More”

  1. Ngayawon January 9, 2012 at 10:01 pm #

    God bless u, Nathan. It’s an encouragement to read such wonderful God’s workings in the land of the Living. Especially liked Livesay affirmation -“I don’t know how I could not want to do something.”
    Reminds me of my association and encounter with HIV+ orphans at Tabitha Home. Indeed how could I not response or want to do something. By God’s grace I am able to do something of help now – Our God is great and faithful.

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