By Slim Kimmel |

Gabe Davis never thought he would be an American teenager.

Growing up in Awassa, Ethiopia, Davis lived in a one-room mud house with a dirt floor. It was maybe 15 feet by 15 feet, with a curtain dividing the sleeping area from the main room. The bathroom and cooking area were outside.

His father was a farmer, and Davis remembers riding on his lap and steering the tractor in the fields. Most of the time, though, the kids would be out playing on their own — from sun-up to sun-down. They had to be careful, especially at night, as wild animals — specifically hyenas — would roam the streets.

It wasn’t a bad lifestyle. It was just simple and modest.

Davis didn’t own shoes until he was 8 years old.

“We played bare-feet soccer,” Davis said. “Some of (the kids) lose their toe nails. I lost mine … had a stick through my feet. There’s so many stuff that you don’t have there. When I got here, like, a little toy was a big thing. You were rich out there if you had a bike.”

Davis and his younger brother Max arrived in Billings in September 2009.

Davis was 12 and had spent the previous three years in an orphanage. His parents had passed away from illnesses, and his half-brother Abush, then 19, couldn’t support the boys.

The orphanage, which provided Gabe with shoes, kept the kids off the street. It was only a matter of time, though, that Gabe would eventually end up on his own. He was getting older and less adoptable, and once kids reach a certain age, they can no longer stay at the orphanage.

Gabe and Max thought they had found their exit, their chance at another life, when a family was lined up to adopt them. That never materialized, though.

“I kind of, like, gave up,” Gabe said. “There’s no hope anymore.”

Enter Tim and Kerry Davis.

The Billings couple saw a video of a girl making her bed in the street while at a global leadership summit at Faith Chapel. They knew they wanted to help, and, along with friends and their church, decided to adopt children in Ethiopia.

Gabe and Max had been at the orphanage the longest of any of the children, making them the perfect sons for the would-be empty-nesters, who also have three older children.

“Another chance at life,” Gabe said. “I could have been on the street right now just … dead. Left out. Out of all that, God just chose me.”

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