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Vulnerable Girls in Ethiopia Run to the Church for Safety

While Paul Knight, a pastor from Grand Forks, North Dakota, was visiting Fiche, Ethiopia, he had the chance to meet the little girl his family had been sponsoring through Compassion International. He wanted to bring gifts to the girl and her mother, a single mom who lived and worked in a one-room home that also basically functioned as the local bar. During Paul's visit, the place slowly started filling with rowdy men from the community. Suddenly, Paul's guide and translator took him by the arm and said, "We have to go now."

Paul looked back at his sponsor child, a ten-year-old girl, and asked for more time. The crowd was getting louder, and his guide firmly said, "It's not safe for you. You must leave now." Paul started to move, but then he pointed to his sponsor child and said, "But what about my little girl?"

"Well, this is her home," the guide said.

Reluctantly moving to the street, Paul asked, "But will she be safe?"

"It's not really safe, but this is her home," the guide said.

Paul was indignant. "What does that mean," he asked, "that 'it's not really safe'?"

"Most likely everything you think it means," the guide said.

Paul fought back tears. "What can she do?"

Gently grabbing his arm, the guide said, "We teach the girls to do this: scream and run to the church. When you get to the church, you will find love and safety. The church will shelter you. So when they feel threatened or vulnerable, they scream and run to the church."

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