On Tuesday at The Orchard, Levi and Jessie Benkert, founders of Bring Love In, told about 50 people their plan for helping widows and orphans in Ethiopia.
"We're just normal, everyday people who God said, 'Here's a load, pick it up,'" Levi Benkert said.
With help from donors, Bring Love In pays for food, rent and tutoring costs, and hires an Ethiopian widow to be a house mother for six to eight orphans. Five houses have been established with two more to come.
Northeast Mississippians have supported the Benkert's work thanks to Anna Polsgrove of Tupelo. She and her husband, Russ, adopted Lucy from Ethiopia. Polsgrove said she felt a calling to do something for her daughter's home country.
In June, she began an effort to raise $30,000 for Bring Love In. It was publicized online, in the Daily Journal and through other media. By the end of the month, $40,000 was raised. That's enough to fund two houses for a year with $10,000 left over to help get two new houses started.
"That was just a huge faith builder for me," Polsgrove said.
Originally from Sacramento, Calif., the Benkerts live in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, with their children, Nickoli, Luella, Ruth and Everly. They've toured the U.S. since July, and will return to Ethiopia in two weeks.
"Tupelo was not on their tour, surprisingly," Polsgrove said. "I emailed them and said, 'I think I can fit you in.'"
Millie and Nick Wiginton traveled from Muscle Shoals, Ala., on Tuesday. While in Ethiopia to adopt their daughters, Meryn and Saryn, the Wigintons visited Bring Love In houses, and now support the organization each month.
"When you see it ...," Millie Wiginton said. "What Levi and Jessie are doing is amazing."
To learn more, visit www.bringlove.in.