‘Children are treated with dignity and valued as precious’

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Lisburn lady Shannon Boyd recently visited Ethiopia, where she volunteered with Operation Rescue to share God’s love with local children.

Shannon, who is just 21 years old, is currently studying Early Childhood Studies at Stranmillis College Belfast, and she is passionate about the work of Operation Rescue, which operates three childcare centres in African country,

Shannon got involved in the charity’s work through her church in Upper Ballinderry, and was inspired by members of her own family, who had also travelled to Ethiopia with Operation Rescue.

During her time in Ethiopia, Shannon worked with local children in Makelle and found it to be an eye-opening experience.

“My friend Cherith Watson and I travelled on our own from Dublin to Addis Ababa and onward to Makelle where we met the Operation Rescue team,” she explained.

“The initial feeling of abject hopelessness and the sight of desperate circumstances almost overwhelms you on an African visit.

“In Operation Rescue these feelings are soon overcome by an incredible awareness of God’s love being shared by the most gracious Christ-like people I have ever met.

“Over five hundred children are catered for in the Mekelle centre in various ways. Young children are in Kindergargen classes and teenagers visit for after school learning classes.

“Orphan children are residents on site. Everyone is fed and offered clean washing facilities. Children are treated with dignity and valued as precious in the eyes of God.

“Each session begins with devotions when the children are taught from the Bible and introduced to the Gospel message.

“The Operation Rescue team serve in an incredibly selfless manner witnessing a dependence on God that we in Northern Ireland know very little about.

“Day to day practical requirements are sought through joyous prayers by them believing God will supply and meet the needs.

“To witness such faith is an incredible privilege and life changing for both Cherith and I. Both of us made great friends in a short time and made our way home believing we would be back.”

Shannon and Cherith were determined to help with the work of Operation Rescue when they returned home, with the aim of helping to build another, much needed childcare centre in the country,

“Just before we began our journey home we asked the General Manager, Getachew Tesfay if there was something we could fundraise for to help grow the work,” continued Shannon.

“He shared a vision he had for the building of another centre in a really poor city called Maichew.

“This would be the fourth Operation Rescue centre in Northern Ethiopia and the road to Maichew began to open up in front of us from this meeting onwards.

“Returning home we approached the trustees and long-standing supporters of Operation Rescue and discussed the project.

“The challenge of raising over £200,000 is immense but after prayerful consideration it was decided to step out in faith believing God would provide.

“It has been a joy to be involved and over the last year we have been making new contacts and introducing the project to new donors. Raising the profile of Operation Rescue is an on-going work for us as we try to introduce new donors.

“Cherith and I returned to Makelle for a month last year, volunteering among the cheeriest kids you could ever wish to meet.

“I have also just returned from a week long visit to Maichew. The local authorities have given 5000 square metres to Operation Rescue and the new site is incredible.

“We were able to pray on and for this land. We continue to pray that many children will attend the new centre when constructed and the Kingdom of God will be extended in an amazing way,” she added.

Find out more about the work of Operation Rescue, as well as how you can get involved and help the charity, by logging onto their website at https://operationrescue.ch.