You might recall Danny’s Story that I wrote a little while ago. For those of you who don’t remember or haven’t read it, Danny is a friend of mine that was homeless for a season of his life. He was mugged one day and crossed paths with a couple of modern day Good Samaritans that would eventually take him into their home and call him family. Fast forward two and a half years from that fateful encounter, and you will find Danny boarding a plane that would take him across the world and into Ethiopia on a mission trip with The Village Church.
I was fortunate enough to lead another team of medical and construction folks on a care trip to visit the Smiths in Langano, Ethiopia. After coming home from last year’s trip, Justin, Melanie, and I all agreed that Danny needed to make a visit to this place. So when I was asked to lead this trip, I already knew who would be coming with me. Unfortunately, Melanie was tied up with work, so Danny and Justin were able to come with me and 7 others to love on the Smith’s.
We spent 4 months preparing for the trip, getting a good theological background to misional living and bonding as a team. It was such an encouragement for me to watch as Danny grew and was able to share his life experiences with us. When the time came to head to Ethiopia, Danny only had to overcome a slight bit of anxiety in boarding his first international flight.
The really cool part about having this 47-yr old, former homeless man on the trip is that he spent the better part of the last decade walking around and learning how to communicate with just about anyone. So when we finally hit the ground in Ethiopia, he had no problem adapting. Because of the color of his skin, he was even integrated into the society more easily than any of us ever could have. At the Langano station, Danny spent most of the time “stupervising” (as he called it) a team of hired hands working on extending a staff member’s house. During his down time, Danny walked around the forested grounds and talked with the guards, many of whom hadn’t gotten to know any ‘ferenjis’ (foreigners) in the past. It was awesome to see him trying to explain how he and Justin, the white ferenji, were brothers. And by the end of our visit, he was being called the Ferenji Abasha (the Foreign Ethiopian).
As we returned home, Danny really wrestled with, “Why me?”. He was able to talk to a homeless man in Addis Abeba, the capital city of Ethiopia, and struggled, knowing that he wasn’t in a very different situation almost 3 years prior. Why did he get to be the one travelling across the world? Why was he the one that came off the streets? Why did he get to have a family and a community that loves him and that he loves just as much if not more? The answer is the same thing for all of us: Grace.