lunch at La Grace

lunch at La Grace
Orphanage in Kinshasa, Congo


Sunday, November 6, 2011

National Orphan Sunday

He will deliver the needy who cry out,
the afflicted who have no one to help…
He will rescue them from oppression,
for precious is their blood in his sight.
Psalm 72:12, 14

For more than 2 years, we have been praying about where internationally God would have us caring for orphans. We sense God leading for us to visit Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. Our church and Covenant Seminary have ongoing and developing relationships with several people in Zimbabwe. Last Easter, we had a meal and conversation with a Zimbabwean seminary professor and his wife about helping with orphans in Bulawayo area. Currently, there is an orphan baby home that needs caretakers. Covenant Seminary is in partnership with the local Bible Seminary—Theological College of Zimbabwe and there are openings for Skip to be involved in internship in May 2012 in Bulawayo after his May 17th Master's in Counseling graduation ceremony.

We are starting to see some potential with this location and need your prayer. For the last 9 years we have been working with MTW and have been in communication with them about our interest. MTW is supportive of our interest and working with us to visit this summer. Keary and I see many ways in which we can care for orphans as a family team in this location. New City is sending a team to Bulawayo in March to learn more about the ongoing reconciliation and orphan ministries. Please pray for us and for wisdom and leading in this area.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Medical Care for Widow and Fatherless - Thank you

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Thanks to God, you all and your prayers and financial support, many people in need received medical treatment and prescriptions in January 2011. The city of Addis Ababa has many poor areas. Many people can not afford medical treatment. This Project Beneficiary (ACT/MTW/SIM) mother and child w/ HIV have had a full check up and received needed medication. When a patient was waiting for the prescriptions to be filled we prayed for them. We sensed them become very encouraged by our prayers. Thank you again.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Back in the U.S. Thank you -SIM/MTW ACT staff and Friends - God is always amazing me.

Thank you for your prayers. I am home - 5:00 AM typing to you all -- Now that I have slept for several hours, I wanted to let you know I am well and at home now and praising God for you all.

At this point, I wanted to tell you what God did over the 2 week period.

1) provided medical check-ups(Team made up of 3 medical docs, 1 nurse, 2 therapists and 5 counselors in training) and treatment, prescription medication, x-rays ultrasounds etc for more than 500 patients and beneficiaries of ACT. Most people have very limited income -- less than $5 per day is earned by most people in the project and some a lot less than that - so medical care is very difficult to afford.
2) provided Prayer and talk therapy for more than 500 people at length - including many widows, fatherless children and muslims and non-believers.
3) wireless internet device for faster internet for Ethiopian staff member
4) money for mother to see her son several hours away that she has not seen since being rejected and kicked out of her home by her family when she became a believer in Jesus.
5) gift items, shoes and toothpaste and other items to Ethiopia pastors who translated for us and who became dear friends -- they will follow-up with the people who called on Christ with home visits and bible studies. They have limited financial resources and are paid a small amount by their congregations.
6) money gifts to Ethiopia ACT staff, drivers, translators etc.
7) money gift for one pastor for his wedding anniversary that he celebrated while there.
8) shoes to staff worker who only had dress shoes and no sneakers for walking around
9) Balloons, candies and other items to fatherless children after we prayed for them.
10) Extra income for AID /HIV Beneficiaries of ACT - when we ordered our coffee through them -- They roasted and packaged our coffee for you all. 25 1/2 Kilos for you all ($3 a pound compared to $12 to 20 per pound at Starbucks for Sodama Coffee).
11) lunch and fun day for sons of ACT staff member
12) medication and gifts to MTW missionary and family etc.

Finally, we took several photos of families and beneficiaries in Addis with ACT -- We would like to send them photos with the next team going to Addis in February -- Please pray for this -- many home visits revealed their heart for photos of family and friends -- They love to put them on their walls and display them for all to see. For the most part, friends and family are the only things they have -- some homes are 5 feet by 5 feet with a few blankets and a bed -- So sending photos to them is a big Blessing -- If you would like to help with this -- you may mail a check made out to MTW - #16626 -photos on the memo line and I will apply this to the development and handling costs of the photos back to Ethiopia next month. 5744 Bartmer, St. Louis, MO 63112. You can forward this to friends if you want.

Items to donate -- Sunglasses -- at the altitude of 10,000 feet and being near the equator -sunglasses are needed to protect eyes -- many have eye damage --any unwanted sunglasses for children or adults would be appreciated as well. We will send them with the Baltimore Team going in Feb. or later team when they arrive. Send them to same address or give them to me when you see me.

Thank you again for your prayers and support.

By His Grace,

Skip Ritchie.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Sheraton Hotel in Addis- Praying for this upcoming week.

I am resting today at the Sheraton doing emails -- This is one of the few places in a city of 5 million with fast and dependable internet service. Our house phone doesn't work and we have no internet service. Last week, we were so busy at the mobile neighborhood clinics and doing home visits that we didn't have much spare time. There is an email being forwarded around that has a photo of me drinking coffee. This is outside of a home of one of the beloved beneficiary near SIM. We visited her and prayed for her. She is positive for HIV. She has what is called non-progressing HIV / AIDS-- she is not taking medications for HIV but is surviving and her CD4 remains good. This is very unusual. The main help of this project is teaching adherence and regular med taking practices which saves their life. Dr. Jason prayed for her for a second time. Last year he visited her. She has a rare case. She has so much joy and welcomed us like family. She served us coffee as a thank you. I drank it, but was a little worried about getting sick. They boil the coffee, but continue to pray. So far all is well with me.

Hello from Ethiopia - Sunday Afternoon

Today, we went to church with Gizaw. The church's name is Akaki Kale Hewot Church in the west side of Addis. They were having a wedding at the end of the service. Gizaw and his sons went with us to lunch. We dropped some of our team at the shops near the Sheraton Hotel. This week was a great week. Several people called on Christ. We treated over 400 people in our mobile medical clinic. Dan Zink is not feeling well. Please pray for him and our team. Next week, we will do more medical clinics, except for Wednesday. TimKat is the holiday which celebrates Jesus' baptism.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Worku and Ethiopian Friends Here and There

Pray that God will strengthen my relationships with Ethiopians in need here and there -- This is a traditional coffee service with women who are with the project in Ethiopia. Many women are widowed and have children at home.

Salam No, Salam Nesh, and Salam Na Cho (Hello)

As most of you know, through reading Scripture and the Holy Spirit’s leading, I began the Master’s program in Counseling at Covenant Seminary last August. God’s call to care for the fatherless is clear but I needed to be better equipped for service to the fatherless and orphans in this world. In the past, I have led our family on mission trips to Mexico and Peru to care and encourage the fatherless. Now I sense the Lord’s leading to be a part of a special trip this Christmas season. Covenant Seminary and Mission to the World are working together to bring the love and goodness of God to the people of Ethiopia. The AIDS Care and Treatment (ACT) Project ministers to the 700 HIV positive beneficiaries and 50 orphans under its care. When I think of those fatherless children and hear Jesus, by the Holy Spirit, saying “Skip-go and encourage them,” I know he will equip me to serve once again. This Christmas season (starting January 6 in Ethiopia) will you pray that the sick and fatherless in Addis Ababa would be greatly encouraged?

Counseling Professor Dan Zink will be leading our team of medical doctors and counseling students. The primary focus will be providing a two week medical clinic to persons with HIV/AIDS within the ACT/SIM project in Addis Ababa. This will also be a time of learning and specialized counseling training to ACT workers and counseling students under Dr. Zink’s supervision. SIM is the indigenous Addis based mission group.

It was a joy for Keary and me to travel to Africa for the first time in June to serve African orphans and learn from existing models of care. We spent five days at the ACT Project walking alongside project leaders, national workers and care givers. We went into the homes of the poor and prayed for individuals who were ill and suffering from HIV/ AIDS. We spent time leading Bible Clubs after school and were able to talk intimately with beneficiaries and their children. It was a time of great sharing.

Our entire time in Africa was quite memorable, but one moment in particular struck me deeply. I had just finished sharing a story to a large wide-eyed group of boys (about my son Stephen’s age) recalling God’s faithfulness to me, while living in Virginia. At the end of the story, I looked around and asked the boys if they would like for us to return. Most of the children exclaimed a resounding “yes!” Then, as I was thinking about what that meant, a young Ethiopian boy began to pray for me and my family. God spoke deeply into my heart and the importance of strong friendship and relationships. We need each other!!!!!

I am excited about this trip because it will allow me to bring the goodness and mercy of God to the fatherless, but it will also teach me more about how to more effectively care for those in need in the African/Ethiopian context. For the past three years, Covenant Seminary has sent teams to Addis and again we anticipate experiencing valuable hands-on training during this time. I believe my return will also be of great encouragement to the national workers and individuals I met this summer. Please pray for me and considering supporting me financially. Thank you for your partnership in the gospel, again.