Church prepares for Ethiopia mission trip

An Ashford woman plans to help the people, and especially the children, of Ethiopia become more self sufficient during a 10-day mission trip to the country later this week.

Cynthia Telfair-Smith will leave Friday , joining a group of 16 people from Watermark Church in Ashford to travel to Ethiopia for a mission trip.

Telfair-Smith, who works at the Houston County Jail, will use most of her allotted vacation for what will become her third trip to Ethiopia.

“My pastor, Todd Thorpe, encouraged me to go the first time. After that it was just the Bible says to go and make disciples so I just felt drawn to continue to go,” Telfair-Smith said.

Thorpe said the trip will actually become the sixth trip made by people who attend Watermark Church.

“We believe God has really called us to go into the world and into all the nations, letting people know about Jesus,” said Thorpe, who will be leading the trip. “We want people to have that hope that can only be found in Jesus.”

Thorpe said much of the trip will focus on continuing the relationships made with some of the Ethiopian people. Much of the mission work will be done through an ongoing partnership with the group called International Crisis Aid. Thorpe said they’ll work with the ICA group in starting two new feeding clinics in southern Ethiopia.

“We enjoy the work and enjoy getting to help tell other people about Jesus,” Thorpe said. “It’s the relationships we have formed with the girls at the orphanage.”

Telfair-Smith called the visit to the orphanage located outside country’s capital, Addis Ababa, the high-point of her trip. She said they will go to the orphanage, which she said now has about 24 girls, and spend some time with the girls, and help out in some of the manual labor needs at the orphanage.

Telfair-Smith said she’s looking forward to visiting with a 15-year-old girl at the orphanage, who she’s met on her two previous trips.

“Personally it’s because I have two boys and never thought I wanted a daughter and when I walked through the door there she actually chose me,” Telfair-Smith said. “She walked straight up to me and hugged me. She feels like she’s my little girl.”

Telfair-Smith said they’ll also work helping some girls in Addis Ababa.

“We go to the red light district in Addis Ababa to try and help some girls get out of the sex trade,” she said. “We go and we’ll ask them to come to church, a church we go to over there and we partner with.”

Telfair-Smith said they not only invite them to church, but share an opportunity for a safe home and escape for the girls in the city.

The mission trip will also allow the group to visit and catch up with some of the children sponsored by the members of the church.

“The church participates in a child sponsorship program, and it gives us a chance to actually meet the children. We kind of give them a little party when we come see them. We love on them,” Telfair-Smith said. “My Bible study group sponsors a child, a boy. I’ve met him twice. It gives you more of a drive to continue to sponsor him. We do have a relationship with him. I think it means a lot because it shows someone he never even really knew before cares about him.”

Telfair-Smith tries not worry about the fact she’s traveling to a part of the world known for civil unrest.

“I just pray about our safety and just basically put it in God’s hands and I just go because that’s what he’s called me to do,” Telfair-Smith said.

Telfair-Smith said she thought it important for people to know there are people who travel to African countries as missionaries who are from the Wiregrass.

“It’s not about me,” Telfair-Smith said. “I don’t want any recognition. It’s about glorifying God.”

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