We often don’t know the impact someone has in our life until after we have gone through the experience. I spent two weeks with Sharon Abebe and 24 other American and Ethiopians travelers in 2010. I knew there was something special about Sharon and it didn’t take long for our hearts to connect.
One of our vans had broken down on our drive from Addis to Soddo. After hours of standing by a dirt road and being inundated with curious children that sprung from the poor country, we loaded up in a rescue vehicle and drove back to the hotel we had stopped by hours before.
The women migrated (not sure how Craig ended up in the picture) to the cafe part of the hotel and we ordered macchiatos to pass our unexpected time of reprieve from driving. We hit it off immediately.
Gathered in spirit.
As we gathered in body, we soon realized we were gathered in spirit, joined together by the Holy Spirit. We were joined in unity because of God. We were joined in unity because we were women. We were joined in unity because of our passion for people, women and children.
I was unaware of the power of the Holy Spirit and how He would bring us together two more times, united in His purpose.
I quickly concluded Sharon was unlike any woman I had ever been in contact with. Sharon was from Ethiopia, but she was American too. After raised primarily by an unkind stepmother in a small village, God laid on her heart the passion for the hurting. American missionaries witnessed to many of the people and Sharon came to know her Savior. Her passion brought her through many family trials, a period of time in Holland and then to America, where she spent 14 years in Dallas Texas. Sharon received a counseling degree in college, worked full-time and was very involved in a church she came to love and who loved and cherished her.
She loved America. She loved the comforts her job provided. She loved the opportunities to minister in her church and loving on her people. She loved providing opportunities for couples to go out on a date night and focus on them.
And so it was a surprise when the American couple who had brought her to Jesus many years ago, called her to come back to Ethiopia. She was needed. But Sharon was comfortable and she said no. No hesitation. No question. No.
But God wasn’t done with her yet.
Sharon started feeling unsettled. Her heart was in turmoil. She felt discontentment. For one year God wouldn’t leave her alone. What once made her content, now was causing discomfort.
Sharon told me she experienced holy discontent. One day she was comfortable and happy living the American dream. And practically overnight, God stirred her heart and her soul. Holy discontent.
Sharon finally relented and counseled with the elders at her church. They recommended she go back to Ethiopia and serve the people she already knew and the culture she understood. They told her Ethiopia would be perfect for her as she knows the language and her learning curve would be minimal. And they told her to pray.
Sharon prayed. She remembered the couple who called her and said they needed her. She remembered her year of turmoil and trying to not face the calling God was putting before her. And she remembered the organization they were with, would be one she could serve with too.
Giving in to obedience.
Sharon put it before God and declared to Him, she would go if He would provide. Families from her church stepped forward and provided the money she would need to get started on her new adventure. And at that moment in time, Sharon knew she was called to go back to Ethiopia and be a missionary in her own country. Almost one year later from the time of the initial phone call, she called the missionary couple and said, “I’m in!”
All because God stirred her heart. Holy discontent.
Sharon today works with women in particular sections in Ethiopia, training the women to understand their value as women, wives and mothers. These women have gained knowledge in caring for their families in healthy ways, respecting their husbands and applying biblical principles to their daily living. Husbands and wives understand each other now. Mothers are connecting with their daughters. Men are being trained too, contributing to their families, not wanting to be left out.
Sharon recognizes those women who have portrayed leadership qualities. She can leave a village, knowing they are well taken care of and they are duplicating the process they have learned.
Sharon is a woman who is loved by many because her heart is so big, it encompasses those around her. She is especially drawn to those who are hurting, particularly women in pain. She senses their anguish and knows there is something not quite right.
On the day we were stuck by the dirt roadside, there was a small house with a woman on her porch. Sharon felt compelled to speak to her and sensed she was a woman in pain. The woman opened up for a bit to Sharon, but then retreated back into her house. Sharon knows she can’t help everyone, but wants to be available to those who want to be healed and ultimately want to find Jesus.
Sharon’s faith has been stretched as she depends on others for her funding. Since she is an American citizen, her money primarily comes from American contributors. She is not done until either her health fails or the funding halts.
Her peace comes from the God who called her back to Ethiopia and opened the doors for her ministry. Her peace comes from God who gives her endurance to walk the miles to the villages where women eagerly await her visit and training. Her peace comes from even when she feels she is alone, and not many women to socialize with and understand her, God comforts her and gives her the strength she needs for one more day. Her peace comes from knowing her year of holy discontent was a gift from God and she wouldn’t chose any other life.
Want more info on Sharon?
If you feel drawn to learn more about Sharon and her ministry, please message me. If you feel you want to pray for Sharon and walk with her in her journey, let me know. If you feel you can spare a few dollars, the cost of a latte or any extra expense please contact me. I believe in Sharon. I believe in her mission. I believe in her ministry as most of us cannot do what she does.
Thank you for reading her story. Look forward to more as she continues her visit in the US.