I Can Feel You Smiling

By Andy Warren, Feb 27, 2024

A suggestion as you read: I have interspersed songs that were on my Spotify playlist as I wrote this, and I think you might enjoy it a little more if you listen along with me. I have listed the artist and song title, so you can click on the title, and it will take you to the song.

I Can Feel You Smiling by Tadeschi Trucks Band

I feel God smiling on me like never before in my life.

I spent last Friday afternoon with 15 of the most beautiful and amazing people in the world. Just writing this sentence is making me cry. I am overwhelmed with a sense of God’s kindness, and if I ever wonder if my life has purpose or made a difference, I will remember that afternoon.

Fourteen women and one man came to the Ethiopia ACT office. All were early beneficiaries of Ethiopia ACT, (a project restoring health and hope to the vulnerable in Addis Ababa), all are HIV positive, and all work in the government health system, helping other HIV positive people. I have not seen most of them in more than 10 years.

Ethiopia ACT Office

Good to Be Home Again by Keb’ Mo’

Teddy organized this party and everyone came dressed in their best traditional clothes. I didn’t know what he had planned. The first thing he asked the group was who is a grandparent. Almost every hand went up. It is hard to explain how amazing this is. I’m crying again. Every one of these people was dying when we met them 20 years ago. They were mothers with young children facing death from HIV/AIDS. They didn’t think they would live to see their children group up, much less hold their grandchildren. Teddy asked how many have children who have finished university. Almost every hand went up again.

Friendship by Pops Staple

Ethiopian Men Outside

Teddy asked some of them to tell their stories. Every one said that they wouldn’t be alive without ACT and all of them praised God for caring for them. Some stories were funny, others touching. One person told about Alemu, the medical manager for ACT, coming to her house every morning when she first started taking treatment for HIV. It made the woman furious and she didn’t understand why he came every morning and insisted she take her medication. Later she realized that she would not have recovered if he hadn’t shown up and insisted that she never miss a dose. Others told about how tough and harsh Teddy had been. Looking back, they were grateful for the tough love he showed.

One told about trying over and over to get into the project, only to be rejected by Teddy. She came from a family with money and wasn’t as poor as the other beneficiaries and Teddy kept telling her the project was for poor and sick people. Alemu kept telling her to wait and kept pushing for her to be included. What she was looking for and needing was friendship and fellowship with people like herself, people who were HIV positive and facing severe stigma. Finally, Teddy relented and the project became her family and life. Her support group saved her life.

It'll All Be Over by Supreme Jubliees

As they told stories, they named different people who loved and helped them. They talked about Teddy, Alemu, Danny, Bev, and many of the interns and missionaries who had been a part of ACT. They remembered the names of the people who were there when they couldn’t help themselves: Linda, Derek, Sarah, Jon, and others.

All of them were part of ACT’s program in the government HIV treatment system when it started. They were the first “expert patients,” counseling other people with HIV like themselves. Most of them are still in these jobs 15 years later, helping thousands and thousands of people. It would be impossible to count the number of people they have impacted.

Your Labor Is Not in Vain by The Porter’s Gate

Enjoying Coffee

A few of them were familiar faces, people who I have been directly involved with, visiting them in their homes when they were sick, seeing them in the office, being with them when we distributed support of school supplies for their children. But most didn’t know me. Their gratitude is for Ethiopia ACT and the staff and missionaries who cared for them, and that makes me happy.

To be part of something where God has done great things and where the Holy Spirit was and is working is more than enough. To be one piece of something like ACT and to get to see the multiplying impact decades later is the gift of a lifetime.

Andy Warren

Andy Warren and his wife, Bev, have served with MTW since 1982, and have served with MTW’s Ethiopia church planting and mercy ministry team since 1996. Visit their missionary profile to learn more about their ministry.

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Pray for the team in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, as national partners and MTW missionaries work hand in hand for a greater overall impact.

Give thanks for lives transformed among the urban poor in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and pray for ongoing spiritual growth. 

Pray for those in the urban slums of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, who are struggling economically due to COVID-19 restrictions. 

Pray for the church-planting team in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, (comprised of five Ethiopian nationals and an MTW missionary) as they work together to wholistically share Christ and serve the local community. 

Pray for a new initiative in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to hand deliver soap and provide education on disease prevention to 600 families in poverty-stricken communities. 

Pray for the Suki church plant in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and for God to open doors to plant another church in a nearby community. 

Pray for the people being served through Ethiopia ACT, MTW's ministry serving the most marginalized in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. 

Pray for the Church in Africa to deepen and for African believers to live holy lives in accordance with God's Word.  

Give thanks and pray for the Suki church plant in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.


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