01 Nov Day 24

Immeasurably More Than We Imagine

by Philip Smith


 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.  Ephesians 3:20


As the wheels touched down, a flood of memories overwhelmed me. This was my first return to Ethiopia, the land of my birth, in nearly 30 years.

It was here, in the early 70’s, that my father Jack Smith developed his passion for helping tough teenagers.  Teaching at a mission school in Addis Ababa, he would encounter hardened street children at traffic lights begging for handouts. He thought, “There must be something more I can do for them than toss them a few coins.”

He went to the directors of the mission school to ask about starting a special class for some of them. Understandably, the school board refused, citing the incorrigible behavior of these “ruffians.” Jack was undeterred. He and my mother, Evangel, started a small school for these tough teenagers in our back yard, renting a mud hut across the street for them to live.

We had to leave Ethiopia at the height of the “red terror” in 1977.  But with Jack’s support from afar, the ministry not only survived, but flourished.  Hope Enterprises grew into one of Ethiopia’s most respected indigenous charities.  Over a span of 45 years, led by Dr. Minas (who was himself led to the Lord by Jack as a young man), the ministry has rescued tens of thousands of children, introducing them to Christ and equipping them with marketable skills.

In 1989, graphic media reports highlighted the brutality being carried out on street children in Brazil.  Wanting to do something for those kids, my Dad and I boarded a Pan Am flight for Brazil. We had no resources, no plan. But we had faith that if God wanted us there, He would confirm it by opening doors during our trip.   

The rest is history. During that flight, we met a young Brazilian businessman. Two weeks later, his father arranged for the donation of an abandoned orphanage. It was called the City of Youth – and Hope Unlimited was born.

Flash forward 30 years: my plane is touching down in Ethiopia. With me is Pastor Derli, the director of Hope in Brazil, whose dream of visiting the ministry’s origins is finally being fulfilled.

There is no short way to tell the rest of the story, but I will try. In Ethiopia, we were met by a group of successful-looking middle-aged businessmen, introduced to us by Dr. Minas as the Hope ministry’s Board of Directors.  

None of them looked in the least familiar. One by one they introduced themselves. As they extended their hands and said their names, grinning broadly, something begin to stir in my memory.  It was impossible. It couldn’t be.

And yet, with God, all things are possible. These dapper gentlemen were the same ragged children my Dad had rescued from the streets all those years ago. It had been nearly thirty years since I last saw them, but they still held a special place in my heart:  Sammy, Alemeyu, Wolde . . .

I could not have asked the Lord for a better gift than seeing the men of God those children had become. And then – thinking it could get no better – to discover they were now on the Board, leading the very ministry that once rescued them!  It was even more special to have Pastor Derli there to see it first-hand. What an affirmation of God’s faithfulness to the ministry my father founded, who we both dedicated our lives to continuing in Brazil.  

My heart is overwhelmed with gratitude for all who have invested in the children of Hope through the years, in Ethiopia and now Brazil, so sacrificially, and so faithfully. I’m sure for them, as well, there can be no greater reward than to see our children serving God and giving back. 


Today, a special prayer of thanksgiving for all those investing in the lives of children, often very sacrificially, through the Hope ministry or other ministries. You are truly the hands and feet of Jesus.