In A New Light – JJ Hoover

By: JJ Hoover
January 5, 2017

While I was growing up, my intent was to play baseball, make a lot of money, and sit at home in my hometown of Elizabeth, Pennsylvania. I never had any interest or desire to go overseas but when I started walking with the Lord, I realized that He had a different plan.


My wife, Megan-Kate, and I recently felt called to take a trip to Africa to visit a few ministries that we had been in touch with, the first of which was Crisis Aid. After 16 hours of travel, we arrived in the Ethiopian airport to a scene of complete chaos. We were amazed to see people running around everywhere and armed military standing guard. Waiting outside for our driver we observed abject poverty surrounding us. Adding to the scene, people, cows, horses, donkeys, and goats all crowded the streets.


When we were finally picked up by our guide, we began our journey into what exactly it is that Crisis Aid does.


This organization wears four different hats. One of these is their commitment to go out into the tribal areas to save starving children who are literally hours away from death. Crisis Aid has formulated a substance that can help nourish and heal the children who are so unaccustomed to nourishment that their bodies would simply reject regular food. They then help educate these people groups on how to take care of their bodies and raise food that can nourish them. They have also opened up a hospital where they take any children who are starving, ailing, or diseased.


The second thing that Crisis Aid focuses on is pulling women out of the red-light district, rescuing them from prostitution, paying their debts, and putting them in community homes where they can receive the care they need. In these homes the women are counseled, ministered to, and loved on.


They also establish vocational schools where these women learn a trade so that they can provide for themselves and get back on their own feet.


The last aspect of their work is their focus on orphanages. We were able to visit an orphanage right outside of Addis where they housed thirty young girls whose parents had either died or abandoned them.


Everything Crisis Aid does is Christ-centered, and that’s why it works.


“Whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” —Matthew 20:27-28


Seeing a country so different from my own and people living a life so far from the “American Dream” was really eye-opening for me. It seems like in America we work hard to earn as much money as we can so we can buy as much as we can. But the people that we met in Ethiopia were simply trying to utilize as much as they could in order to survive. Most people lived in tin huts that were the size of a normal American bathroom. If you traveled further outside the city those huts were made out of mud, and even further out the huts were formed by grass. Most people live with no running water or electricity. We weren’t even able to travel further out into the tribal areas and see what life is like there, because the whole country is in a state of emergency.


One of the things that stirred our hearts the most during this trip was talking to the women who had been rescued from prostitution. We were able to pray over those who were brave enough to share their stories with us. Another humbling moment was walking into the orphanage and meeting so many girls who were without parents. It physically hurt when we weren’t able to take them home. Megan-Kate and I are continuing to try to adopt one or two of these girls we met but with the country currently closed off, we’re not even sure it’s possible.


I wasn’t eager to travel to another country at first, but once I committed to it, I gave it all to God and asked Him to teach me what He wanted to teach me. God was present to guide and protect us during this trip, but also to show us the needs of those around us. My eyes were opened to the reality of the Great Commission: “Go and make disciples to all nations.” Seeing this lived out first-hand made this call on my life much more real.


“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” —Matthew 28:19


We all have to take God’s command to spread the Gospel to the world seriously, whether that’s to our neighbors, teammates, friends, or family. I will never see the world in the same way again and I wouldn’t want to. I recognize that God desires for me to die to myself a little bit more each day; I want to be open to the Holy Spirit’s call on my life, wherever or whatever that may be.


“By dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit.” —Romans 7:6


We are not just called to be church-goers, but to be doers of the Word.


—JJ Hoover


JJ Hoover is a regular contributor of The Increase, providing monthly articles and opinions.


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