Monday, February 14, 2011

The Faces of Love

Love.  What a small, powerful word.  It has the potential to change the world.  To change us.  Most of us seem to excel at self love, but selfless love...that's harder to come by.  And it's that selfless love poured out that makes even the harshest cynic stop and take notice.  I find it noteworthy that the poor and those who suffer know quite a bit about selfless love, because it's what brings meaning and fullness to their lives.  Emptying their lives on behalf of those around them ultimately fulfills them. 

I want to share with you some of the faces of love I have seen up close and personally over the past year or so.  As I took in each one of these faces I was filled with awe and respect, and honestly, a bit of shame as I held my own "selfless love" up to the light.  Yes, my circumstances are different simply because of my geographic location, but at the end of the day aren't we all the same?  We have the same longings and desires.  We have the same blood coursing through our veins.  We all have opportunities to choose learn to live completely in the beauty that is self-sacrifice. 

These beautiful women, most of them lepers, spend all day making cotton into cloth, doing intricate embroidery, dyeing fabric...all so they can afford the tiniest bit of food for their large families.

And they do it these hot, stifling metal boxes in the middle of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. 
They do it for LOVE.

Meet my dear friend, Yemamu and his mother.  She works all day embroidering fabric in one of the steamy boxes above, while her husband who is plagued by leprosy, begs in the city.  Yemamu works to support his family as best he can.  His heart is consumed by helping those in Korah, the leper colony he grew up in.

Yemamu introduced us to this woman who hasn't been outside of her home in at least 15 years.  Her hands and feet have been destroyed by leprosy and she lives at the mercy of others who are struggling to survive as well.  But Yemamu visits her and tries to help her as best he can.  He offers her what he can. 
Sometimes it's simply prayers.  He does it because he is compelled by LOVE.

Meet one of the teachers at Kechene School in Ethiopia.  I wish you could have been there to see his energy, his enthusiasm, his eyes sparkle as he talked and sang with the children.  He wrapped his arms around them, he laughed with them, he invested his life in those precious, smiling faces.  Love echoed loud off those walls. 

 These may be some of the most passionate, creative men I've ever met.  They all live in Korah, the leper colony, which is also home to 75,000 of the poorest people in Addis, the capital city of Ethiopia.  Having grown up in Korah, they know how difficult it is for young men to find something good to occupy their time with.  So, they constructed this building and turned it into a gym where young men can come and work out.  The unbelievable thing about this room is that everything you see in here they collected from the garbage dump that Korah sits on.  They even melted down car batteries to turn them into dumbbells! 
They have had their equipment stolen out of the room, yet they keep going back to the dump for more.  
All because they LOVE. 

This is one of the sweetest women I know.  Because of desperate circumstances, her daughter sold her own child (this woman's grandson) to a woman on the street who was looking to earn more money begging in the city.  A woman who begs with a baby on her back is likely to receive more money than a woman who begs alone.  As soon as this grandmother found out about what happened, she went searching for her grandson.  She found him.

She has raised him in the face of tremendous difficulty and illness.  Look at that smile on his face.  It's there because love came for him.  Love sought him out.  Love sacrificed for him. Love knows he is worth it.

Sacrificial love is self-sacrifice with the pure motivation to alleviate the suffering of others. This supreme love is suffering love, love that requires involvement in the knotty problems of the world, love that bears with the failings and weaknesses of others, love that is committed to helping others regardless of the cost.


  1. " came for him. Love sought him out. Love sacrificed for him. Love knows he's worth it."


  2. That is a powerful post. Thank you for sharing this.