Korah Reflections from our HFK Summer Intern

By: Karissa SchatPosted On: January 12th, 2024

We are excited to share some personal Korah reflections from one of our university interns!

This past summer, Jaelyn completed her Community Development Internship in Ethiopia through Dordt College. She volunteered alongside HFK staff, and spent much of her time with families in our HFK programs over the span of two months. Jaelyn wrote about the deep impact Korah has had on her life, and shares about these experiences in her own words:

"The two months I spent interning with Hope for Korah in Ethiopia this summer offered me incredible opportunities to learn more about God, myself, and the beautiful and broken world that we live in. I am so incredibly thankful for the privilege it was to return to a place that the Lord has used to shape and change me for many years.

Reflecting on how I understand missions being shaped by my experiences in Kore, Paul’s words in 1 Thessalonians 2:7-8 communicate how I believe that followers of Christ in every community he leads them to might genuinely share the hope of the gospel. He writes that “because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well,” and this is what I was gifted the opportunity to be a part of in Ethiopia this summer. It is difficult to communicate how beautiful it is to share my life with the people of Kore, and how in return I receive so much as they share their lives with me. In building relationships both with the incredible staff team of Hope for Korah I was welcomed to be a part of, and in seeking to meet the people of Kore where they are at, I personally got to see more clearly who Jesus is. The relationships I got to build and deepen taught me that the gospel is light and life in the darkest of circumstances that people created for glory walk through each day.

Through sitting in homes, visits to the hospital, listening to the voices of courageous, resilient mothers tell their stories, teaching English, struggling to learn and communicate in Amharic, practicing cooking injera, drinking many cups of buna (coffee), and asking many questions, I became deeply connected with the community of Kore. Though I cannot directly relate to their experiences of injustice, poverty, and often unimaginable pain of trauma, abandonment, and shame; I was offered the space to share in wrestling with asking, seeking, and crying out about how the gospel which declares Christ’s defeat of death to be final, also speaks new life into each particular story of the people I came to know and care for deeply. There were often moments and days where having my eyes opened to a new depth of suffering, and the struggles of the community within the context of conflict and injustice in Ethiopia caused me to cry out, Lord are you seeing this? It was in these moments that I also came to grow in trust and confident assurance of the promise that God is making all things new. Though before my eyes it often looked as though the darkness was stronger, what I came to see, as the Lord graciously revealed his light through his faithful people around me, is that the light is more true that I had known before.

I am so thankful for both the encouragement and challenge I received this past summer in Ethiopia to hold to the vision that it is truly only God who does this work. God is the healer, the restorer, the redeemer, the light, the peace, the rest, and the hope that each human heart is longing for, and by him alone can be made whole. Through holistic development efforts such as Hope for Korah’s work, we can learn that those who are called to engage the injustice of poverty recognize it is not by their hands or gifting that any sustainable change is made. For though we do not always know why God chooses people, we do know who he chooses; the unqualified, the humble, those who fear him, who listen to his voice, who are willing to go without knowing all the answers and who trust in his loving kindness, rather than their own strength. For all along it was God who would use my feeble offering of a broken heart over the suffering and injustice that those I love in Kore experience for a purpose bigger and more beautiful than I could imagine. Where I felt inadequate, unworthy, and overwhelmed it was the person of Jesus who invited me to walk in grace alongside him and I believe this is the joy of responding to the call to enter into the pain of others, to love our neighbour. 

Living among the community of Kore also taught me the necessity of doing life closely with the body of Christ. My Ethiopian brothers and sisters taught me what it means to truly share one another’s burdens through their humble and selfless ways of walking in step with one another. Not only are we called to share the heavy load with Jesus, but we are also invited to do so together, holding hands with the family of God as we acknowledge our need for one another. The Church needs fellowship not just to share in burdens but also to remind each other of the truth that the light has overcome the darkness. For in the midst of the darkness of poverty and the complex factors of political, social, economic, physical, spiritual, and cultural aspects through which brokenness is seen and experienced, there is also the opportunity to see the presence of Christ, his humanity and divinity, more intimately through the lives of others.

Sharing about my learning in Ethiopia is truly not a story about myself but is about the One who has chosen to set us free (2 Corinthians 4:5), my Saviour, and Friend who is so very present in Kore. Because I love Jesus and know the cost of discipleship, I also know that his invitation is to offer in prayer the lives of each beautiful person I know in Kore to him, and to do the same with my own. Learning the trials and joys of the community of Kore as I had the opportunity to this summer, I believe comes with the responsibility of stewardship of how their struggles, kindness, grief, and hospitality all bear consequence on my own way of seeing Jesus, myself, and the world. This I continue to learn, and I praise God for his grace and patience with me, and for his faithfulness through Hope for Korah and the community of Kore to reveal himself to me."

Thank you, Jaelyn, for your beautiful heart. We are so grateful for your compassion and committment to love the precious families residing in Korah, Ethiopia!

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