One positive for Sarah Hess and the Ethiopia Library Project is that the Ethiopians are strong supporters of English literacy in their country.

By Mike Buhler |

Sarah Hess found an unexpected opportunity to share her faith and serve others when she made a missions trip to northern Africa last summer.

Sarah Hess made the trip with Front Line Missions out of Greenville, S.C. She visited Ethiopia for two weeks as well as another country that is more restrictive toward practicing Christianity.

“I felt, in the last several years, that God would have me be somewhere overseas, especially either in a monitored country, which is what Ethiopia would be categorized as, or a restricted-access country, which means you can’t really share your faith freely — you have to be discreet about it and things like that,” said Sarah Hess, who is a music teacher for the Battle Creek Public Schools.

While she was in Africa, Sarah Hess worked with Allan Sherer, the Horn of Africa director for Front Line Missions. She later reconnected with Sherer in South Carolina and learned about the Ethiopia Library Project.

When she got back to Nebraska, she shared information about the library project with members of Community Bible Church in Norfolk, where her father, the Rev. Arin Hess, is the pastor.

“I just think that it’s probably one of the best causes that I’ve ever gotten behind,” Sarah said. “I look forward to seeing how God provides all of this and eventually getting back there and seeing the completed project.”

The Ethiopia Library Project’s goal is to collect 50,000 books to stock a library that is under construction in Asella, Ethiopia, a city of 110,000 people that does not have a library. Sarah said the stateside focus is collecting books and raising the $10,000 necessary to cover the shipping costs for them.

The project hopes to ship the donated books in April. They will be taken first to South Carolina before being shipped across the Atlantic Ocean to Ethiopia.

“We’re excited about what God’s going to do, but (we are) also (excited) to get good educational literature and good fiction into the hands of the children of Ethiopia,” Sarah Hess said. “If they have a mom and a dad, most of these kids’ parents are making less than $2 a day. It’s a lot different than America.”

One positive for Sarah and the Ethiopia Library Project is that the Ethiopians are strong supporters of English literacy in their country.

“That’s not their first language, but they start learning English in school about third grade,” Hess said. “The more they have access to English literature, the better they’re going to be at that.”

Another person involved with the Ethiopia Library Project is Michael Alemu, an Asella native who founded Christian Horizons Global in Ethiopia.

“Michael’s desire is to get a state-of-the-art library,” Hess said. “Everything he does, it’s all about excellence. He wants this to be something that is not only going to help the children get a good education, but also will draw people into learn themselves — the adults, the businessmen and that kind of thing. We’re not just looking for books for children — it’s also for adults.”

Unlike the United States, Ethiopia has relatively few libraries, which adds an extra sense of urgency to the Ethiopia Library Project. While the United States has more than 120,000 libraries and a population of 320 million, Ethiopia has just 260 libraries amongst a population of 94 million people.

“When you’re a follower of Christ, you want to do what he would do, which is help the poor and help the needy,” Sarah Hess said. “It changes you. The Gospel changes a person first, but then that person can go and change society because of that.

“That’s Michael’s goal, and it’s the goal of so many people who are working through this, to bring people in and to show them love, because most of them don’t get to experience that outside of it.”

Source: The Norfolk Daily News
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