Meet my friend and hero!
I have a hero I want to share with you. Sharon Smith grew up in Darlington, South Carolina and became a registered nurse. Feeling God’s pull, she volunteered for a stint as a nurse-missionary in Ethiopia. This was in the 1970s and Ethiopia was a rough place.
Sharon came home at the end of her time, but the plight of the women in Ethiopia plagued her. She went back to school, became a women’s nurse practitioner, sought financial support, and went back to Ethiopia as a full-time missionary. And there she stayed until 2006.
Sharon’s home base was the city from which she traveled into the rural areas, often sitting by the edge of a swollen river for days waiting for the unexpected flooding to pass so she could drive across where the road continued on the other side. She taught healthy living, delivered babies, and shared the gospel. As a woman alone in a male-dominated country, she prayed for safety and God covered her with wings of protection.
Beyond her city there is a huge valley, home to over sixteen tribal groups. Each has its own language, customs, rules, and rituals. For all of the many years Sharon worked in Ethiopia, they had never been able to share the gospel in this valley. Until now.
Twenty some years ago Sharon delivered a baby boy. This boy, now a man, has learned to love the Lord. He left his home village and obtained a Biblical degree. Sharon feared that the ease of city living would appeal to him and he would not return as promised to work with his own people. But he did return, and with a passion to reach the valley. And he had a plan.
Over the past few years this young man and a few others have been able to tell stories from the Bible to some of the valley tribe members. The valley people, with no written language and being story tellers by heart, share the stories with their tribal people. There are now twenty-eight story tellers who come back eager for more stories. More stories about Jesus are shared, and the process continues. Conviction has begun to take place! Valley tribal members are becoming Christians!
What would have happened if this single woman, Sharon Smith, had not had the courage to go to Ethiopia? What if she had ignored the whisper of God to go, to serve?
And more praises – the language of the people where Sharon serves is called Banna. Until days ago the people did not have any of the Bible translated in their own language, thus, they have been unable to read God’s word on their own. A team has recently completed translating the entire New Testament in their language! The team is now working on the Old Testament.
All of life is a spiritual battle. But thanks to one woman who chose to put on the full armor of Christ, the people of Ethiopia are being taught the saving grace of the Lord Jesus.
When my time is done, I wonder what people will say about me? Will I leave behind a legacy of salvation? What about you? Have we made a difference for the kingdom?