Staff & Board Members

The Forsaken Children Staff

Whole Family2Executive Director: Joe Bridges

Joe and his beautiful bride, Karyn are really just ordinary people who have fallen in love with the people of Ethiopia, especially the children. After experiencing  the site of thousands of children living on the streets of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia firsthand in 2006, they helped start The Forsaken Children, Inc. (TFC), which exists to bring lasting hope to Ethiopia through these, Ethiopia’s street children. Joe and Karyn have a passion for partnering with Ethiopian ministries to carry out this task and have loved doing so! Most importantly, Joe and Karyn fully recognize that The Forsaken Children and their Ethiopian partners are not these children’s savior, but they know who is and aim to direct those whom God puts in TFC’s care to Jesus. The Bridges currently live in Memphis, Tennessee.  The loves of their lives are their three kiddos – Jack, McLaine, and Silas!

 

jon famSustainability Coordinator: Jonathan Bridges

Jonathan and his lovely bride, Jess Bridges felt God’s call to join the work of The Forsaken Children in 2006. Prior to this call they never really thought that they would do international missions, but Jonathan made the leap first and traveled to Ethiopia in January 2008 to make preparations for the family’s visit in May. That summer while the family was surrounded by the culture and life so far away from the United States, they were exposed to the beauty and despair that is Ethiopia. Throughout the three month trip, Jon and Jess could see God’s hands at work and became connected with this ministry in a way that would later lead them to join the staff as the Sustainability Coordinator in 2011. In late 2010 the Lord led them to make a major move and go to Ethiopia long term and fully invest in the people there beginning in the fall of 2011. Jonathan uses his experience in agriculture to aid The Forsaken Children with their agriculture project, Kota Ganate. In addition, he works to teach Ethiopians in the rural countryside to drill low cost, low tech wells through his training with Water for All International. Jonathan is a graduate of North Carolina State University with a BS in Biology and Jessica received her BA in English from Catawba College in Salisbury, NC. In addition to staying busy with their son Dawit and daughter Carter, Jessica works to teach English to both children and adults in the Ethiopian countryside.

 

Administrative Assistant: Kara Moses

Kara is a founding board member for The Forsaken Children. She came to love the ministry of TFC and gained a passion for their vision through her relationship with Karyn Bridges. As her best friend, Karyn would share all the stories from her time in Ethiopia that broke Kara’s heart. In response to her brokenness, Kara desired to find a way to help Joe and Karyn with their ministry and was ultimately invited to be on the board. Having previously worked for a non-profit, Kara immediately took on trying to help with bookkeeping and anything she had former experience with. That helpfulness eventually turned into Kara officially taking on an administrative role with TFC in 2009. Kara lives in Memphis, TN with her husband, Johnpaul and their two daughters. Alyssa is their oldest and is quite the artist.  Kelsey is their young entertainer, singing and dancing all the time. Kara is a home schooling mom and part time administrator for TFC. The Moses family attends Central Church.

 

The Forsaken Children Board

Chairman: Randall Johnson

Randall is a founding board member for The Forsaken Children. He has had the privilege of visiting several countries on short-term missions trips including Ecuador, India and Uruguay.  But without a doubt one of the most thrilling opportunities he has had is visiting TFC’s Ethiopian partners and meeting Nega [Ethiopian director] and the wonderful children whom God has brought TFC to minister to. Randall fell in love with the children and the amazing staff in Ethiopia God has put together to oversee this work of grace and love.  His wife Mary Ann went with him in 2009 and that meant the world to him. He saw her compassion for these children fully expressed in her devotion to see that they had competent health instruction and such basics as school uniforms. He will never forget his trip to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Randall is a pastor at Central Church. He lives in Memphis, TN with his beautiful wife, Mary Ann. They have four incredible children and seven grandchildren and enjoy spending time with them and seeing what God is doing in and through them.

 


Vice Chairwoman: Britain Sholl

Britainy first had her heart broken for the street children of Ethiopia during a short term mission trip to Addis Ababa in June of 2011.  Since then she has become passionate about doing her part as an obedient Christ follower in making a difference in the lives of these children.  Britainy enjoys speaking to large groups about TFC  and encourages others to become a part of the ministry work of TFC.  Britainy resides in Collierville, TN where she is a full time mom to Grant and Claire.  Britainy and her husband, Kevin, have been married since 1999 and have lived in IN, OH, GA, IL, CA and TN.  As a member of Central Church, Britainy is active in the inner city ministry as co-chair.  She is a mentor with One By One Ministries and serves African refugees in Memphis.

 

Treasurer: Travis Harms

Travis and his wife, Maggie have known Karyn Bridges (wife of TFC Director, Joe Bridges) for a long time, but their first real exposure to the mission and work of The Forsaken Children came through a dessert party they attended in 2007. According to Travis, “Joe & Karyn’s desire and passion for seeking God’s kingdom first is so rare, real, and convicting that my wife and I knew it would be a privilege to become active supporters of TFC.” Since that time, the Harms have been amazed to see how God is rewarding Joe & Karyn’s obedience and blessing the Ethiopian children that are so near to God’s heart through them. Travis joined the board in 2010, was elected Chairman of the board in 2011, and Treasurer in 2013. He is a financial analyst at Mercer Capital and lives in Memphis with his beautiful wife and three children, Sophie, Luke, and Nate. The Harms attend Bellevue Baptist Church.

 

 

DunlapsSecretary: Katie Dunlap

In August 2010 Katie and her husband, Brad, traveled to Ethiopia for the first time to meet their son, Yohannes.  They visited the country again the following month to bring him to Tennessee to join their family.  During those two trips, an unshakable love for Ethiopia was formed in their hearts, and they left with a longing to continue to minister to the people there.  In May 2012 that door was opened, and Katie joined the board of TFC, excited to be a part of ongoing ministry in a country she continues to love deeply.  Brad and Katie have been married since 1999 and live in Midtown Memphis with their three boys, Riley, Cole & Yohannes.  Brad is the pastor of Mercy Hill Church, and Katie works with Bethany Christian Services as a home study writer.  They enjoy living in, serving, and loving the Vollintine-Evergreen community.

 

Shad Berry

Shad Berry

Shad Berry serves as the Chief Operating Officer and Director of Alumni for Downline Ministries. He is a native Memphian and graduate of the University of Memphis with a degree in Business Management as a member of the university’s Emerging Leader program. Shad spent the first 11 years of his professional career in his family’s 40-year old communications firm, Memphis Communications Corporation. Shad served as a Vice President after spending several years as a Sales Professional and Sales Manager with the company before being led to Downline. Shad has been able to participate in two Downline mission trips to Ethiopia where he and his teams have worked directly with The Forsaken Children’s Ethiopian team as they trained church leaders in biblical discipleship.

Shad and his wife Veronica are members of First Evangelical Church where Shad serves as an elder and co-leads a Sunday School class.  The Berry’s have four children, Ainslee, Abbie, Jack, and Ann Claire.

 

Team McGoo

Kelly McGugan

In June 2010, Kelly and his wife, Heather traveled to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on a short term mission trip. For just over a week, the McGugans were able to invest in the work The Forsaken Children does in Ethiopia, and therefore fall in love with the children and community it serves. Since their first experience in Ethiopia, Kelly jumped in with both feet to serve TFC. Kelly has led numerous short term mission trip teams back to Ethiopia – working hard to advocate “lasting hope for Ethiopia” through sports ministry. He acts as TFC’s sports ministry volunteer and uses his annual visits to Ethiopia to fulfill this role. His wife, Heather served on the TFC Board from 2010-2012. Kelly, Heather, and their son, Kyler, live in Memphis, TN with their two dogs and attend Central Church. Kelly is a project manager for a marketing and communications company and Heather is a nurse.

 

David Drees

David and his wife Diane met while living overseas and have had a heart for people of other lands ever since. They have had the privilege of leading numerous mission trips and seeing people deepen in their passion for missions as a result. As the parents of two children born in another country, they also have a passion for orphans and living out James 1:27, which lists the care of orphans as one element of acceptable religion in the sight of God. In 2010, David was invited to be on the Board of Directors for The Forsaken Children, bringing experience of overseas ministry as well as over a decade of work in Christian non-profits. David, Diane and their three children live in the Memphis, TN area where David works for FedEx as a marketing analyst and Diane works as a homeschool mom. They are members of the Collierville Bible Church in Collierville, TN.

 

Nicci and Kaleb

Nicci Feathers

In June of 2011, Nicci first traveled to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where her heart was forever broken and her life’s mission was forever changed. She had an instant, unconditional, head over heels kind of love for the children TFC exists for. Upon her return home, Nicci wanted to do everything she could to return to those precious faces as soon as possible. While she has been able to return on several short term trips, God has shown Nicci over time that His purpose for her now is to advocate for the children in any way she can here in the U.S. Nicci lives in Memphis, TN, where she teaches third grade, and serves as a TFC volunteer and board member. Nicci attends Harvest Church.

 

Liz Gillentine

Liz Gillentine is a founding Board member of The Forsaken Children. She and her husband, Ed, have a love for Ethiopia that was ignited through Karyn and Joe’s passion for the country and its people. Ed has also served on the Board and has had the privilege of traveling to Ethiopia and visiting TFC’s Ethiopian partners several times. They are both so excited to be a part of this amazing ministry. Liz and Ed live in Memphis, Tennessee and are members of First Evangelical Church where they serve in the college ministry. They have 3 beautiful children, Mullin, Madelynn and Gabe. Liz also serves on the Board of Directors for Bethany Christian Services.

Dick Jacob

Dick Jacob and his wife Suzie are members of Central Church and have known Joe and Karyn since before their marriage.  Joe and Karyn were friends of their daughters in the college and career class at Central Church. It has been very rewarding to witness their call to missions, their spiritual growth and commitment to the Forsaken children, and their journey as Godly parents. Dick is a retired Naval aviator and FedEx pilot. Suzie is also retired, but remains active as an educational consultant for the University Of Tennessee Health Science Center, the Church Health Center, and other healthcare institutions. They have a heart for teaching couples God’s design for Marriage and have taught Preparation for Marriage classes at Central Church for approximately 24 years.  Dick and Suzie have 3 married daughters and 9 wonderful grandchildren.

 

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Rick LearnedRick Learned

Rick Learned and his wife, Cheryl, are members of Bellevue Baptist Church where Rick serves as a Deacon. Rick and Cheryl have a heart for children, especially orphaned or vulnerable children in need of love and protection. Desiring to be of service, Rick joined The Forsaken Children’s board of directors where he hopes to aid in the strengthening of ministry efforts to the street children of Ethiopia. A Pharmacist by training, Rick now works as a regional team leader for a pharmaceutical company. He, Cheryl, and their three girls enjoy living in the Memphis area and are happy to invest in a ministry that is impacting lives of children in Ethiopia.

 

Suzanne Vrbas

Suzanne first met Karyn Bridges on a mission trip to the Czech Republic.  It was a friendship/kinship from the start.  There was an immediate connection for missions and a love for people.  When Joe and Karyn were married and began the work of The Forsaken Children, Suzanne and her husband were among the first supporters of the work in Ethiopia.  In 2013, Suzanne and her husband, Daryl traveled with Downline Ministries to work with TFC’s Ethiopian team in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Daryl & Suzanne are native Texans. They moved to Memphis 26+ years ago and have 2 grown children and 4 amazing grandchildren. Suzanne is retired from school counseling. She is blessed to be a part of The Forsaken Children Board and desires to see God work through this powerful hands-on ministry to change the lives of street children in Ethiopia now & forever.

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Family Reintegration



Watch Alemayu's Reunion With His Mother, a beautiful success story unfolded for you in the video above:

Alemayu, an 11-year-old boy, was taken from his home in rural Ethiopia when he was 7-years-old to work in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s Capital. Seen here is the moment he sees his mother for the first time after being gone for 4 years. Thanks to The Forsaken Children and especially their ground efforts in Ethiopia, Alemayu is now living with his family again.

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