Because of the nature of her ministry, we cannot share the name of the missionary author.

Orphaned as a young boy, Anwar came to live with us at Grace Village, a home for highly vulnerable children in Ethiopia. When Anwar was 12 years old, his aunt (his father’s sister) wanted to take him to live with her and to train him as a tailor. He decided to go. The very first evening, this Muslim household got ready for evening prayers, and our Anwar knew this was not what he wanted. 

“But this is not the way I pray. I pray to God in Jesus’ Name,” Anwar said. The menfolk told him that in their house this was the way that it was done and that he was Muslim; therefore, he too needed to learn this way. He crept out and left.

When the family realized he had run away, they telephoned us. We immediately went to look for him and found him walking the five miles back to Grace Village.

“I need to come home.” he told us.

School was tough for him, but he could fix bicycles. He loved cars also and would hang around the drivers and learn from them. He was a gentle soul. We paid for driving education, and he passed his driver’s tests. He held different jobs as he grew older. The bus and truck drivers are a rough lot, and our gentle Anwar found this hard. He worked as a waiter in the hotel, then as a driver himself.

“Anwar, have you accepted Christ?” I asked him three years ago during one of our homecoming days.

“Oh yes, Mama!  Yemisrach told me about the Lord Jesus, and I accepted him into my life,” he replied.

In adulthood, Anwar’s lifestyle was a bit survivalist. He earned a basic wage, but over the past year he wasn’t well. My coworker was at the hospital when one of our older boys came and told her that our Anwar was seriously sick and asked if could she help. In fact, Anwar was unresponsive and needed blood. A trip to the next town saved him only for a day or two, and he was then transferred to the regional hospital. Then news came that our gentle Anwar had died, possibly from disseminated tuberculosis and malaria.

Our kids were shocked; he was their big brother. The older youths were equally stunned, making them realize that death waits at the door for any of us. One older lad simply said, “My heart is broken …”

No longer must Anwar balance trying to be kind to a family that feels he has rejected them, work in a rough milieu, or maintain friends who want to be worldly even as he strives to follow the Lord himself.

He is deeply missed by all of us, but our comfort is the assurance that Anwar is with our Lord, and we will see him again.

Photo: Anwar in yellow vest