SIM workers Meredith and Rob Ward connected with Frealem when they first came to Ethiopia from the US in 2010 and their ongoing friendship has been intentionally shaped by God ever since.
The Wards moved into a house, just down the street from Frealem’s little pottery shop. As Meredith made grocery trips, she hit it off with Frealem and before long, she invited Meredith and Rob, who was the art teacher at Bingham Academy, over to discuss ceramics.
Meredith said: “It was wonderful. She showed us how she and her husband were building a tiny home outside the city where she hoped she could grow her pottery business.”
Frealem sold traditional Ethiopian pottery, which involves shaping clay on a wooden plate rather than on an electric pottery wheel. She had tried an electric wheel years before and was eager to learn more about the technique, so she asked Rob about electric wheels and was delighted to find out Bingham Academy had one.
Two years later, their developing relationship was put on pause when the Wards decided to return to the US. Realising they had a fitting present for their friend, Rob asked if Bingham Academy would give their wheel to Frealem, since they would no longer have an art teacher to use it.
The school readily agreed and just days before their departure, Rob surprised Frealem with the gift, who cried as she gratefully accepted it.
In 2017, the Ward family moved back to Ethiopia, but did not expect to see their old friend until the biannual bazaar. But on one of their first weekends back, they met Frealam at a local charity bazaar. They found out that she had proposed an idea to a local charity as a way to teach women ceramics as a source of income.
Meredith said: “She was overwhelmed to see us in her life again and was so excited to share what has happened in her life since the gift of the wheel.”
Frealem explained that the wheel had allowed her to earn enough to complete the construction on their house and add on extra living space for her, her husband, her mother and their newly-adopted son.
Meredith was able to glimpse the impact of the gift still further when Frealem invited her to a family member’s wedding. Frealem took Meredith aside and told her that the joyful celebration was possible because of the pottery business. The ceramics funds had helped her brother go off to school, where he met his bride.
Frealem also plans to use her extra income to care for orphans, and she intends to raise about 10 children as her own. Since Ethiopia has now closed foreign adoptions, in-country orphan care is all the more needed.
“God has blessed me with so much success because of the pottery wheel, so I want to bless others,” she explained.
Give thanks that the Wards’ friendship with Frealem is a display of God’s pursuing love.
For Christians to come alongside Frealem in place of the Wards, who have now left Ethiopia.
That the children who will be raised by Frealem will understand and live out the Gospel.
By Tianna Haas