Start to Follow
As a boy, Temesgen Badsu remembers the soldiers dragging a group of Christian pastors into the middle of the village square. After the revolution in Ethiopia, a communist government took power. There was no room for God. This was especially difficult because Christianity had been in Ethiopia since ancient times. The New Testament tells us the deacon-evangelist Philip shared the gospel with a government official from Ethiopia (Acts 8:27).
Now, in the public square of the farming village where the boy Temesgen lived, the Christian leaders were beaten and shamed. And killed. This did not kill the desire of the boy to serve the Lord.
The family lost their mother and father. Temesgen quit school to support his brothers and sisters. Borrowing salt and sugar and a few other staples from neighbors, he sold them, and started a small grocery store near the crossroads of the village. His mother’s religious faith reminded him of what was important. With her gone but very much on his mind, he took lay leadership positions in the small church in the village. Eventually the communist government would fall, opening more opportunities for Christians.
Possessing a strong desire to learn English, he spent Sunday afternoons listening to an English speaking missionary on a portable radio conducting Bible studies from a station in Nairobi, Kenya. Eventually he would go to a Bible College in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia. After graduation, he took a leadership position with the group “Doctors Giving Back.” That’s when a greater opportunity presented itself. He mentioned to one of the doctors that he wanted to continue his studies by going to seminary. The doctors were impressed with the young Ethiopian man, and arranged a scholarship for Temesgen at a seminary in San Francisco. Temesgen Badsu saw this as a gift from God’s Holy Spirit.
There are between ten and twenty thousand Ethiopian immigrants in the Bay area. A group that spoke the Oromo language had been praying for a pastor. They didn’t have much; he had less, but he accepted their call. To support himself he became an Uber driver. Later, after he completed a Clinical Pastoral Education program at the University of California Medical College, he found a ministry and an income as a hospital chaplain.
Today he is a missionary in the Bay area. He not only leads an Oromo speaking congregation on Sunday afternoon, but on Sunday morning he leads worship as the pastor of two small Anglo churches. Temesgen’s dream is to reach all ethnic groups, telling Ethiopian, Hispanic, Asian – all who will listen – how the Lord led him out of immensely difficult times. How the Spirit of Christ is ready to lead them, and all who trust Him. His dream is for them to know God’s grace is boundless, His love is endless, and every immigrant and refugee of every ethnic group has come here by God’s grace, and His plan.
“From one man He has made every nationality to live over the whole earth and has determined their appointed the exact times and places where they should live. God intended that they would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us.…” Acts 17:26-27