By Chris Meehan
In June, 2010, Yodit Derese traveled to the US from her native Ethiopia for a surgery to correct a club foot. Her sister Naomi had already been adopted by Eric and Hilary Shreves (Vancouver-Portland), and Yodit, too, became part of the Shreves family, though, at 26, she is too old to be legally adopted. A lifelong Christian with deep faith, she also joined the People of Praise. (Her story appeared in the winter, 2011, issue of Vine & Branches).
Recently, Yodit reached a significant milestone in her quest to remain in the US permanently. The US government has recommended that Yodit's application for asylum be approved. Once this approval becomes final, she can apply for a green card (permanent residency). Receiving a green card would mean that Yodit could become a US citizen.
"I have seen God work in power many times," Eric says, "but this whole story is one of the greatest miracles I have ever witnessed."
The recommendation of approval came about through dogged work by Hilary and the help of a Portland immigration lawyer, Theresa Statler. A staff member for US Senator Ron Wyden recommended the lawyer to Hilary and suggested seeking asylum for Yodit under a special provision for members of persecuted social groups.
“I remember the day Yodit and I sat talking to the lawyer for the first time,” Hilary says. “I noticed works of art from all over the world on the walls of her office, especially Asia and Africa, gifts from grateful clients. When she explained all the work involved--weekly meetings for three or four months--I began mentally calculating the enormous expense the effort would require. I had no idea how we could afford it.”
To Yodit and Hilary’s surprise, Ms. Statler paused and said that she sometimes took cases pro bono. She volunteered to work on Yodit’s case for free.
Ms. Statler and her legal team found two professors who had documented the miserable and even dangerous conditions women with disabilities can face in Ethiopia, which buttressed her case for asylum.
Yodit is presently attending school and learning English, and has made friends with other Ethiopian immigrants. “Life in the United States--I love it!” she says. “I love living with my sister Naomi and with the Shreves family. My foot hurts sometimes, but it’s in very good shape now. Praise God!”
Anne Brewer says:
January 19th, 2012 at 1:24 PM
Praise God Yodit. So glad you are part of the POP family!
Annie Putzier says:
January 19th, 2012 at 1:36 PM
This is so wonderful! God is good, all the time.
Trish Brewer says:
January 19th, 2012 at 1:42 PM
What courage & trust in the Lord you have, Yodit! We are so blessed to have you here! Thank you Lord.
Cynthia Moody says:
January 19th, 2012 at 1:56 PM
I'm so excited for you, Yodit, and for all of your POP family and friends. I met you on a visit to the Portland branch when I was on my way from Tampa to China in the fall of 2005. God's grace is great! Praise God! Thanks sooooooooooooo much for sharing the story. It's inspiring news to start off this New Year pondering. I sponsor a child from Ethiopia through Compassion Internationsl, and I hope to visit her in Ethiopia one day. God is able :-) Please pray for this to come to pass before Tsehay is 21 and no longer eligible for the program (she's turning 19 in April). Thanks and God bless!!! Psalm 150. . .
Linda Coney says:
January 19th, 2012 at 2:00 PM
God has given you many graces and gifts and I'm grateful for the ways you are accepting and using them. We are truly blessed to be part of your life.
Lisa Ficker says:
January 19th, 2012 at 2:10 PM
This is wonderful news! God is so good. Thanks for the update!
Kate Record says:
January 19th, 2012 at 2:17 PM
Praise God! It's such a blessing to see God at work through Yodit and the Shreves family...
Nancy Grams says:
January 19th, 2012 at 3:02 PM
Yodit, may your courage and determination to persevere in hard times be a witness to others of the Lord's faithfulness and loving provision. Welcome, sister, to our life together!
Beth Bulger says:
January 19th, 2012 at 3:35 PM
We are so happy for you and for us in having you among us, Yodit!
Marge Connolly says:
January 19th, 2012 at 6:39 PM
We prayed for you and your asylum request at the South Bend women's retreat in October, Yodit, and now every time one of us listens to the CDs of that retreat, more prayers will be lifted up for you. Praise the Lord who hears and answers us!
Beth Preuss says:
January 19th, 2012 at 9:22 PM
Praise God for you, Yodit, and for our life together in the People of Praise. We have been praying for you and are blessed to hear that God is caring for you so completely. May all finish up well and quickly! Praise God for your beautiful family, the Shreves! Love to you all! Beth & Rich
Tom Duddy says:
January 20th, 2012 at 1:52 AM
I am so inspired and touched by this event. I'm struck by how much love and much faith worked hand in hand, one step at a time. Another example that God is always at work with us.
Ruthanne Seitz says:
January 20th, 2012 at 2:23 PM
We have touched the Shreves family through Naomi, who stayed with us on an Action trip last summer. The love she has for Yodit and her family spread to us, as well. When Naomi says "Mom" or "Dad", those names are literally intwined by roses and ivy. Thank you, God, for joining the two families.
Claudia Schmitz says:
January 21st, 2012 at 11:41 PM
Yodit, What a gift you are to us. Your joy and faithfulness are so evident in photos of you. We will pray that all continues to move forward with much peace. You were in the Twin Cities a year ago for the Walters' wedding. We only met in passing, but I hope we can meet again for a longer visit.
Tony and Claudia Schmitz
Linda Simpkins says:
February 1st, 2012 at 9:41 AM
Yodit, we are in awe of our great God and how he brings to the People of Praise all those whom He is calling! We are honored to welcome you. I am a longtime member of Servant Branch who now lives on assignment in rural Minnesota outside a small town named Vining. He is the Vine; we are the branches and related in wonderful ways. May you continue to bring glory to God.
Patrick Clark says:
June 19th, 2012 at 2:38 PM
The story continues! Check out the article at the link.
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