The day she walked into the church to share her testimony, Jalene* was wearing all black from head to toe–black top, black skirt, and a black scarf. This is the traditional clothing for Ethiopians who are mourning the death of someone they loved. Months and years after a loss, family members often continue wearing full black. It speaks to the depths of their grief without demanding words.
Jalene’s testimony begins with her marriage to Menas*. Like Ruth of the Old Testament, she left her family and all she knew to marry into his family. Together, they moved far away from her home in rural Ethiopia to the city of Addis Ababa. The city was unfamiliar in every way, including the language spoken there. Still, Jalene loved Menas, and he was a good husband.
A beloved member of the church, Menas served as an elder. He worked in construction, cracking rocks used for building. And he was the kind of man that used his skills generously, bringing 300 rocks for the construction of a new church hall and laying the foundation for free. Jalene and Menas were happily married and gave birth to a little girl, whom they named Desta*.
Five years later, everything changed. While at work, a boulder fell on Menas, and he died instantly. Jalene was heartbroken, and five-year-old Desta was fatherless. In spite of her great pain and grief, Menas’ family rejected her, claiming that she was bad luck and had brought this death upon their family. The people who were supposed to help care for this young widow and her child wanted nothing to do with her. They kicked her out of her own home.
Jalene had no work experience. Menas had always been the sole provider for their family. Suddenly, she was a widow, a single mother, and homeless. She didn’t know what to do. Her hope was fading away, and she began to question God.
Why did her husband—a good man—die? Is this what happens when someone faithfully serves the Lord?
Thankfully, this is when the local church stepped in to care for Jalene and Desta. The Addisalem Berhane Wongel Church accepted this family into their Home Based Care program with World Orphans. Through the church, she is able to receive support for her family. They have shelter and food, and little Desta is able to attend school. Jalene has also found a job and is providing income in addition to what she receives from the program. This allows her to save and plan for the future.
As she tells her story, tears flow down her cheeks. They are tears of mixed emotions—of great grief and great gratitude. She will never stop missing her beloved husband, and she will continue wearing black as a sign of that grief. But now she has regained her hope! She and her child are being cared for and loved. As she walked away from the church that day after sharing her testimony, she looked up to the sky, smiled, and thanked God.
*Names changed to protect identity