FASHION OUTREACH IN ADDIS ABABA
WRITING AND PHOTOGRAPHY BY NICOLE ENS
God is faithful in using our passions as a form of reaching the unreached and serving Him. This was proven true to me in the last few weeks of our time in Ethiopia. Since I was young, I have been interested in shooting fashion and working with models. This is something I have pursued for the past few years but I would have never imagined that I would be attending Ethiopian Fashion Week and shooting headshots for model portfolios on outreach in Africa. I have so much appreciation for a DTS that creates space for art as outreach. I can see now that God uses the space we give Him to drop opportunities right in front of us.
We were walking the streets of downtown Addis Ababa scouting out stylishly dressed individuals to photograph for a street style series with the hopes of starting a good conversation. We approached a girl dressed up who told us she was heading to a fashion show tonight. She invited us to meet her at the venue. Dressed in our thoroughly worn and stained clothing, we decided to attend the event full of stylish Africans designers, models and business people. The fashion show opened up opportunities for us to meet models and the organizer of the event to arrange for our outreach band to play the following night.
With our whole team prepped in our extremely creative outfits pulled together from each others more stylish pieces, we headed out to take on Ethiopia Fashion Week. As the band played we had conversations with attendees and captured moments of the event. Iwas so fortunate to meet some of the models and set up times for photoshoots.
Kiya and Bethlehem are models who are striving to work internationally. They captured my attention immediately with their striking appearances. Our plans came together and I was excited to have Shelby, a makeup enthusiast, along to help with makeup for the shoot. It was such a cool opportunity to serve these girls with our interests and abilities. The shoot was improvised to say the least. Makeup was done in the bathroom of a cafe and after being kicked out of the cafe, makeup was done on the streets where men peed. Africa places you in some unique situations. Despite all of the unusual circumstances, the photoshoot was a success and great images were produced for all of our portfolios.
The most meaningful moment during this whole experience was the relationship I developed with one of the models. Over Ethiopian coffee we talked about dreams, aspirations, religion, faith and Jesus. She shared with me her hardships and together we prayed as tears streamed down her face as the power of the holy spirit worked in her heart. This moment, sitting in the cafe, across from my new friend, speaking to our God with honesty was a specific point during outreach that especially stands out to me. It was the moment that gave me faith that God gave us our interests for a purpose and that He desires to use them for his glory when we offer them to Him.