Hawi – An Ethiopian Girl

by | Apr 26, 2012 | Missions Articles

An amazing story from Elias Reyes, Founder and President of Modern Day

The evening before I had received an email from Michelle. The first leg of her return flight to Brazil had been cancelled. She would be stranded in Dallas for the night. I was scheduled to fly to Ethiopia the next day, and now our time at the airport would overlap for over an hour.

While waiting in an airline lounge, I received a frantic text from Michelle asking if I would come to the ticketing area to help with a problem. Because English is not her native tongue, I walked out to help. She had taken off the baggage tags, and the airline had threatened to make her pay to recheck the bags. We worked it all out, but not without tears and emotion.

In the midst of this upheaval, Michelle handed me an envelope and relayed a dream she had the night before—she had seen a young Ethiopian girl crying out for help. Michelle wanted to help, so she handed me an envelope of money with a question—could I give it to the girl in the dream?

How was I ever going to find her among millions of Ethiopian girls?

When I arrived in Ethiopia, I placed the envelope securely in the hotel room safe. Hopefully, I would know when to use it. If nothing else, I would give it to a faithful Ethiopian pastor and ask him to bless a needy, young girl.

As the trip wound down, I had almost forgotten the envelope. There it lay in the hotel safe, but I had not “found” this girl. Early that morning, I prepared for a day-trip to the south to visit one of the schools of the Messianic Jewish Bible Institute in Woliso among the Gafat, who are Ethiopian Jews. I was eager for the trip and opened the locked-box to retrieve the envelope. Although my faith was low, my attitude remained faithful to be available to God’s purposes.

The journey to Woliso was truly outback Africa—green, mountainous, and rugged. We passed miles of native teff— the grain used to make Ethiopian bread—the staple called, injera. I sensed a kind of lonely isolation as we drove, watching the barefooted children play in the fields and the colorfully dressed women balance heavy loads on their heads or backs. I felt drawn to the beauty of this place and its people. I imagined the life before me, drained of strength and maybe even purpose because of decades of poverty and persecution.

Dotted along the way, I saw many traditional Ethiopian huts made of mud and thatched roofs. Curiously, I yearned to see one inside. But not this time, our day brimmed with many different obligations.

After two hours, we made a pit stop. As I waited, sheaves of grain mesmerized me as the wind gently waved them in the Ethiopian sunshine. I snapped a picture, amazed at the stunning beauty… And suddenly, so unexpectedly, a young girl ran out of the field about twenty feet from me. She stopped to pose for a picture with a schoolbook in her hands. Gladly, I lifted the camera and caught the moment!

A simple cow herder, she scampered back to her five cows. I wondered why she approached me with her cattle so far away? I followed her to say hi, and to my great surprise—she answered in English!

Could this be the young Ethiopian girl?

It turned out her that her mother tongue was Oromo, native to that region. Fortunately, our van driver spoke her language. Hawi was her name, and she was tending the cattle with her brother.

I had a deep sense that I had “found” the young girl of Michelle’s dream. We asked about her family, and Hawi returned soon with her father, Haylu Eshete.

Weathered and aged by years of laboring in the sun, he began sharing how he and his wife had tried to conceive five times. They cried out to God. Later, Hawi was born. Her name means, “I asked the Lord, and He answered me. He granted me the desire of my heart.”

Haylu shared that he had led a hard life working in the fields, but his desire was for his children to do better. He dreamed of Hawi becoming a doctor! We handed him the providential envelope that suddenly became so precious, and explained it was for Hawi’s and her brother’s education.

He invited us into his home where we met Meseret, Hawi’s mother. I was delighted to grab that unexpected opportunity I had longed for—to glimpse inside those mysterious, mud huts scattered along the countryside. While entering the dirt-floored room, I was amazed at how clean and spacious it was—with separate huts for sleeping, cooking, and entertaining—even wallpapered with English newspapers.

After visiting for a few minutes, time drew near to return to Woliso. As we said our goodbyes, I noted that Hawi lived near mile marker 91. Dr. Wayne Wilks, director of the Messianic Jewish Bible Institute, said that he had read Psalm 91 that morning and felt it was a confirmation of God’s plans for Hawi. That Psalm reveals God’s protection for us as we face the perils of life. Hawi may be hidden in the rural outposts of Ethiopia, but God saw her plight and became her refuge and shelter.

As we drove away, I was amazed at the chain of events the Lord had orchestrated. These happenings reminded me that God doesn’t need my assistance, just my availability. God’s heart had ached for Hawi and her family for all these years. God had sent us as His ambassadors to visit their home.

What plans does God have for Hawi?

In Jeremiah 29:11 it says, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” I couldn’t help but feel that God has a special destiny for Hawi. Perhaps one day she will be a spokesperson for the rural people of Ethiopia.

Let Hawi be a reminder for us all. If He can cause a Brazilian to dream a dream, an American to stop in the middle of nowhere, and a young Ethiopian girl to pose in front of a stranger, imagine what He can do for you? God’s incredible plans for us are combined with His extraordinary ability to fulfill them!

As we headed back to the capital, Addis Ababa, I asked Pastor Deresa about the education of the children in his Woliso congregation. Sadly, he said that he had conducted a census and only 50% of the children were in school. Many parents either couldn’t afford the school fees or needed the children to work to supplement the family’s income. Please pray for these young boys and girls who desperately need to know that God has not forsaken them. If you would like to contribute toward Hawi’s education or for other Ethiopian children, please go to and donate today to the Hawi Education Fund.

If you would like to make a financial contribution to the Hawi Education Fund, please click here.

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