Sunday, February 4, 2024

God Kiss Series - Ethopia & Love


Our family in Ethiopia with our honorary son

~ This story is featured in the Home & Harvest January/Feb 2024 magazine and I wanted to share it as well on my blog.  g

Imagine yourself sitting down with a book. On the cover, it looks ordinary, like hundreds of other books, but you buy it anyway. You open it up and start reading….

Boy meets girl and they become high school sweethearts. They marry.  They move to the Palouse so she can attend vet school.  She finishes school and they decide to start a family. But then … fertility struggles. After a couple years of fighting the good fight of trying to have a baby, they are finally blessed with Baby #1. But was that it, or did God have more in store? They hoped for more children. 

A fairly common scenario,  except the part where infertility leads to the part where they help hundreds of street people on a different continent.  Wait?! What?!… PLOT TWIST!!! And with that, let me introduce you to, Josh & Jill Quaade, two regular people with a story like none other.  

Like most people, you marry and usually the pitter patter of little feet is the next step.  For Josh & Jill,  after a  bit of a struggle, the blessing of daughter #1 came along.   But then came the decision of what else would God have them to do.  Should they maintain with one child or add to their family through another avenue?   After much prayer and research, they were led to Ethiopia to adopt Baby #2. After selecting an agency, they were sent regular updates on available children. One day in the Spring  of 2008, the weekly summary, complete with pictures of various children available, spoke to Jill, she knew God had a daughter for them.  She handed the flyer to Josh and said, “do you see our daughter”.  Josh took one look and pointed out a picture of their future little girl. They both knew instantly, independently yet together, the one God had for them.  They had decided that her name had to be connected with the word “Joy”, for there was so much joy in those eyes that had seen so many struggles in the few short months of her life.  Adoption proceedings began and after what seemed like a very long year of waiting, Josh and Jill learned that the orphanage home to their daughter had to move the children to a different location. Josh volunteered to assist with the move and flew to Ethiopia. During the taxi ride to the orphanage, the driver began explaining to Josh about his mission to help the street kids who lived without home or family in the city.  He gave detailed insight to the plight of these young people and how every Wednesday he somehow eked out enough money from his $30 per month wages to feed these hungry, impoverished youth as well as some women & men.  With hesitation in his voice Josh, called Jill that night and told her of the taxi drivers’ tale and asked what she thought about helping. They agreed to pray about it. After Josh returned home from his trip, it was clear that God was asking them, “will you go”? Will you help my people?” The answer was then “YES”.  They would help this random taxi driver with his mission of Wednesday food for the youth and whatever else God put before them.  

Jill with a baby from the daycare program

Together, Josh & Jill knew this was their calling – with a “heart for Jesus”, they knew they had to help nourish the souls and bellies of this vulnerable population.  As Jill put it, “feeding the belly lasts one day, but feeding the soul with Jesus lasts an eternity”.  So in 2009 they formed a 501c3 nonprofit corporation called “One Changed Life”.  A board of directors was assembled.  Twelve kids were initially sponsored, wherein it provided life necessities. The taxi driver and they, side by side, strove to feed the body and the soul.  Josh began traveling to Ethiopia regularly and witnessed how great a work God was doing not only with the sponsorship kids, but also in continuation with the street ministry. 

Street boys prayer time

At first churches would allow the use of their building for the weekly food sessions that drew about 75 kids and adults. But as time went on the churches raised their rent forcing the program to move and regular meetings became a struggle. After 8 years of doing this, Josh & Jill knew they needed some kind of permanent compound. The Ethiopian government began to crack down on the need to separate humanitarian work from evangelical work. One Changed Life worked with a “humanitarian license ” to feed the kids” but to formally teach the gospel, they needed their own area where they could house a second licensed entity with an evangelical license.

With a clear vision, a sister organization, under the umbrella of One Changed Life was formed. A donor stepped forward and donated 3 months of rent.  After discussion with their board, a decision was made to go forward when and if they could raise rent for 80% of a year.   They started praying, and within 3 weeks, donations to provide enough rent for one year were donated.  An entire compound was rented and the work to move forward  to again  provide food and gospel teachings side by side was blessed.  The ministry began feeding about 280 people 5 days a week and the sponsorship program blossomed.   At the new compound, through donations and much fundraising in the states, staff was hired and programs were established to help , sponsorship now serving 109 kids, widows with job training to help them be self-sufficient, feeding and teaching the Gospel to 35-75 kids per day with ages ranging from 3- 18 years of age, and feeding, teaching and counseling about 180 men and women from the street. All who come into the street ministry get a meal and a short biblical message daily.  The facility also has allowed them to host annual programs for the sponsorship kids such as putting on biblical musical productions to bring joy, singing, and music to enhance day to day life and vacation bible school programs.

Mommas in traditional dress

And life continued on for Josh & Jill in America as well.  While all this was going on, they  adopted frozen embryos and were blessed in welcoming their twin “snow babies”, Baby #3 & Baby #4. Time continues to march on and Josh & Jill now home school their 4 children which allows them  the ability to typically spend 3-5 months a year in Ethiopia.  Josh is self-employed.  His employees keep the business afloat while he is away.  Jill works part-time and says she has the best employer ever, who allows her all the time away she needs.

With the increasing time Josh & Jill have spent in Ethiopia, it became obvious God was calling them to do more. Homeless mamas and babies would make their way to the compound, as they had no place to call home.  After much prayer and discussion with their board, it was decided to open another compound as well, where the mamas and babies could go live, learn the essentials of life and faith, along with the tools to make it on their own.  And once again the funds came in. In 2021, the Women’s & Infants Transition Home was opened.  With another full home of Ethiopian staff,  10 single moms with nowhere else to go are able to live at the women’s home.  Over the course of a year, they  receive training in basic life skills, parenting, and the Gospel along with skills training on how to make items to sell. Item they make include bracelets, soaps, cards and scrubs.  They are taught the basics of business and  sell their items both in Ethiopia and  to friends of OCL in the U.S.A,  all with the goal of being self-sufficient.  All these funds are saved for their transition into life out of the home.  They are also given training in trade schools lasting 3-4 months for learning how to become a cook, housekeeper, seamstress or childcare (being a nanny).  Each mama is provided 3 months of rent upon securing a job and moving from the Women’s Home.  

And it has just kept going.  Just after the Women’s home was opened, a boy’s home was opened just down the street.  In this home, boys from the street who wanted a fresh start could live and grow in the home, go to school, and learn how to be a productive citizen.  Now, the boys who live in the home help out voluntarily with the feeding program and Vacation Bible Schools that minister to other street boys who are still stuck in the street life.  Always seeking ways to make the most of Gods provision and to make the  most of the space,  the basement of that home,  by God’s provision,  was converted into a daycare and was opened to provide care for the babies of the graduate moms during the day as standard daycare is overwhelmingly expensive.   

Still, God had more, a discipleship program was started, typically, with about 75 men signing per session.  Unfortunately, the dropout rate is high and usually 12 men graduate.  The men who stay received job training, help do outreach to other street men, and often help donate money back into the program as they are eternally grateful for being shown a new way to live, skills to help them be stable but most importantly living a Christian lifestyle.  

Street men's breakfast

All this is accomplished by 18 full-time staff members:  two feeding programs, a discipleship program, a women’s and infants transition home, a boys home, women’s empowerment training and  109 sponsorship kids.  Affectionately Josh and Jill relayed the story of one of their first sponsorship children, Ephrem, who was sponsored since he was 9 years old.  He is now a 24 year old young man and an active part of the staff ministering to the boys from the street and helping with translation.

The excitement and joy of their life work for Josh & Jill was evident as they were telling me their amazing story. Both feel beyond blessed in working to make all the things that most of us take for granted such as a roof over our head, clothes on our backs, enough food to eat and the opportunity to be self-sufficient, not to mention knowing basic life skills. Today these children, men, and women have found a soft landing with Christian love that has forever changed their lives for the better.  Josh and Jill  are grateful to God to help them see the need and be instruments in lessening human suffering.

When I asked if the taxi driver was still driving his taxi, Josh proudly the man, with the help of an investor, opened several businesses and employees 90 people, many of whom he has hired after graduating from the job training programs. His heart still joyful in serving the God  who gave His all for him and happily giving so much of his personal time and resources to the ministry.

Then Jill happily said the next program that they hope to focus on is  a coffee shop that will be a gift shop wherein the women from their home can sell their crafts, work, make a good living  and be self-sustaining.  Once again, they give it to God in prayer.   

As we finished the interview, I was seeing firsthand the beauty and faith of two ordinary, but beautiful God filled people doing exactly what the Bible has taught us. I swear images of Mother Theresa were flashing in my mind as I was talking to them. When I inquired if they were affiliated with a church, they replied no. They were just filled with a Jesus loving heart and doing what God had led them to do. And then as we sat, taking in the moment that this amazing journey all began because of infertility issues.  And in reflecting at each occurrence along the way with just the right person entering into the story at just the right time, coincidence? Nope, I personally do not believe in coincidences, however, I do believe in serendipity by God’s hand.  All you have to do is have the eyes to see it.

Sometimes words aren’t enough to describe the wonderous beauty of seeing in real life what it looks like for two people to take a leap of faith to help their fellow mankind and walking a Christian life.  To find out more about their organization, their website is, email is

And as the promise of the new year awaits for each one of us, what kind of story will you be living? Where does your heart lead you?  May we all find the faith and courage to live our best life in 2024 and beyond.  All my best, Gayle


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