Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | April 26, 2014

Out of The Frying Pan

Shire, Ethiopia via Aksum

Perspective is essential to understanding. As we continue our journey to northern Ethiopia, things are slowly coming into sharper focus. This morning we boarded our Ethiopian Airlines flight from Addis Ababa to Aksum. Our flight route took us through Gondar and Lalibella before we finally bounced on to the tarmac in Aksum. Located in northern Ethiopia, Aksum was in existence at least three-hundred years before the birth of Christ and today is regarded as the spiritual home of Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity.

Sometimes it’s good to look at things from the 30,000-foot view. Staring out the window at the barren landscape below got me to thinking about the challenges of surviving in such a harsh environment. Having recently completed a 100-mile backpacking trek through the Sam Houston National Forest in Texas, I looked at the rugged landscape below through the eyes of a backpacker. Without question, northern Ethiopia boasts some pretty rugged terrain that would challenge the best of backpackers and survivalists.

How then, I thought to myself, could children and people of all ages who are fleeing Eritrea’s oppressive government at a rate of 3,000 per month survive their escape across such an unforgiving landscape. How desperate do you have to be in order to jump out of the frying pan of Eritrea’s oppressive government and into the fires of a life-threatening route to what you hope will be a better life? Freedom and hope are the twin sirens whose harmonious melodies compel desperate people to risk it all for something better.

Several people who I met in Aksum asked me if I was a tourist. I am here with friends, I replied, to help Eritrean refugees. I explained that we had traveled far in order to especially care for the needs of the unaccompanied Eritrean kids. No one objected. The people here understand the challenges of survival and the importance of hope. No one begrudged that we are here to help strangers in their land. What is happening in Eritrea does not go unnoticed by those who live on the Ethiopian side of the border.

In the morning I will preach at a local evangelical church in Shire and our team will prepare for our first day at the Endabaguna Transition Center on Monday. We have lots of shopping to do for clothing, shoes, and medical supplies for those who escaped Eritrea with only the clothes on their backs. I look forward to meeting the people there, especially the kids. I already have deep respect for these people who walked across a tough landscape and survived. They are a testimony to what it means to want a better and more decent life for themselves and their loved ones.

Please continue to pray for our team as we venture deeper into the world of Eritrean refugees in one of the toughest places on the planet.


  1. I am deeply touched to read your posts and find out that you are reaching out to them, I have recently met Eritreans while volunteering in Calais, France, along the Channel coast, opposite England, their goal. I must say I am ashamed that my country doesn’t provide nor shelter nor any kind of support. Since I have met them and many other refugees here in Northern France, I feel a strong call to minister to them and be there for them. Let’s pray for this people. They are wonderful human beings. I met one especially who used to study computing at university level, and he kept saying that the main thing he wants to achieve in life in the UK is do further studies and not lose his level. It sounded like an obsession to him. He has already wated so much time fleeing and staying alive. He is 21 years old and his name is Akil (which means “the crown” he told me proudly). Please pray for him. God bless your ministry. I will keep updated with your blog from now on. By the way, I am a French and English teacher. French native.

    • Thank you for your love and concern for Eritrean refugees who are living near you. God will honor what you are doing to be the hands and feet of Jesus among these precious people. May He bless and strengthen you as you serve Him.

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