What’s in a name?
Many of the women in Ghana are left as widows, either through death or desertion. In this context, it becomes virtually impossible for these women to provide for their children. Oftentimes, they are faced with the gut-wrenching decision of keeping children whom they cannot feed, putting them in an orphanage, or giving them to someone in Ghana’s substantial fishing industry who promises food, shelter, and education. The sad reality is this usually only provides a life in slavery on Lake Volta. Feeding The Orphans provides single mothers with artisan training, materials, and a market to sell their goods. The ultimate goal is to provide a means for generating income so that their family can stay together. These single mothers also receive training as disciples of Christ, so that they are able to grow in their faith and raise up their children in the joy of the Lord. Today, nine women are employed and paid a fair wage by Feeding the Orphans.
In late 2013, God laid on my heart that our FTO ladies program needed its’ own name. A name to set it apart. As three of us stateside started praying several names came to mind, but the one that always “stuck” was Esther’s Hope. I was a little hesitant with the name God was laying on our hearts because I didn’t want it to be focused on only one of our moms. This program was about all of them and the love that our Jesus has for each of them. Then in April 2014 we received the devastating news that one of Esther’s twins, baby Atsu, was very ill. So ill that he might not make it. As we gathered in our basement packaging hundreds of t-shirts for Forget the Frock, we prayed. We pled with our God to save this precious child. As the day wore on, we received the text of “he is gone”. In the arms of Jesus he was now resting. Tears flowed on both sides of the ocean for our sweet Esther, for Atsu’s twin brother, for the journey they would now walk. Personally, I found myself angry and asking God, “What are we truly doing? Here we are on this side advocating selling t-shirts that are supposed to provide medical care. Selling thousands for our FTF campaign and in the middle one of our moms loses her precious baby.” Many tears flowed. Over and over again from all of us. The next day, I found myself on the phone with our in-country missionary. As I shared my frustration, he quickly stopped me. He started sharing the words Esther had spoken that morning as she was grieving her baby. “Even in this, I have Jesus. Through our Bible studies at our FTO ladies’ meetings, I have learned that God loves me and He is always near. Even in losing my baby, I have Jesus…and I have hope that can only come from Him.” And the beautiful name of our ladies’ program was confirmed…Esther’s Hope…a hope that can only come from Jesus. – Kristie O’Leary (Co-Director- FTO)