A brief story of the people behind Gospel of Glory.
By Alemu Beeftu
A Burning Desire
I was born on an isolated farm in the Ethiopian countryside. I’m not quite sure when, because there is no formal record of my birth. As the youngest of 10 children, I was expected to stay on the family farm to help my father—and nothing more.
But I was always a curious child. Occasionally, a government-issued pamphlet made its way to our family farm. My father would carry that white piece of paper from the government around, looking for someone who could read it to him.
One day I asked my father, “What is this thing you carry? Why does it make you look for someone?” My father answered, “I need someone who can tell me what is written on it.” I said, “What do I need to do to help you?”
My father replied, “You would have to go to a special place and learn how to read. But you cannot do that. I need you on the farm. Your older brothers tried school, and they didn’t like it. You wouldn’t either. Besides, we cannot afford to send you to such a place.”
But that incident gave me a burning desire to learn how to read. Understand I was about 12 years old at the time. I was probably thought of as being too old to benefit from schooling. But it wasn’t long until I discovered a missionary school about five hours’ walk from my home—a place where I could learn to read. I ran away from home to go to school there.
The circumstances were stacked against me. I was just a farm boy. I had no money. My parents were against my learning anything apart from farming, and that meant farming as it had been done for generations. Even more, I only knew the Oromo language of my native region. To go to school, I would have to learn Amharic, the national language of Ethiopia. But I had a desire to read and I was determined to do something about it. The missionary who ran the school took me in. She made the way for my education to begin. That process led me not only to start reading and writing, but also to a higher education years later.
My father became livid with rage and reached for his spear. My own father was about to kill me!
My Journey With GOD
God was also clearing the way for me. When I was in second grade, a math teacher read Psalm 15 as an opening to class: “Who can abide with You, O God?” I knew I couldn’t. I began to shake. I was shaking all through class. I knew I had to do something in response to the God of this Psalm. After class, I asked the math teacher about what he’d read. He told me not to worry about it because it wasn’t part of the curriculum.
I searched for the missionary who ran the school. She understood what was happening, and she shared the Gospel with me. I was about 14 at the time. That day I gave my life to Christ, and it marked a turning point in my life.
That was the true starting day for me. Until we have a true relationship with God through the forgiveness of sin, we haven’t started much of anything. I had begun to rebuild my relationship with my family after running away from home.
The conflict that came between us happened at Christmas break. I went home for the holidays where the family’s traditional celebrations were in process. All my brothers and sisters were home. A sheep was slaughtered and prepared for us, and the family stood in line to receive a portion. Since I am the youngest, I was the last in line. I respected my father. He was normally a gentle, quiet man. But when my turn to receive a portion from the sheep came, I could not take it. I tried to explain I felt it was idolatrous to do so.
My father became livid with rage and reached for his spear. My own father was about to kill me! Thankfully, one of my brothers intervened, saying, “He’s only a boy! You can discipline him and get him to change his mind. You don’t have to kill him!”
But during the rest of the vacation time, I had to avoid my father. He continued in his anger. When I returned to school, my aunt—who had been giving me room and board—soon found out about the incident. She told me I could no longer live under her roof.
It wasn’t long until the director of the school noticed that something was bothering me. Finally, she got the story out of me. Then she told me about a dorm available for boys who lived far from the school. She arranged for me to work for her on weekends and before and after school to pay for my food and other expenses.
So school was covered. But there was something else I wanted dearly: a Bible. The school director told me I could earn that, too. But a schoolboy who needs to work for his room, board and tuition doesn’t end up with much extra money. One year later, I still did not have a Bible. I went to the director who counted my money and discovered I only had half of the required amount. But she noticed my disappointment and gave me a Bible that day.
Willingness to Obey His Will
Year after year, God faithfully took care of my needs so I could continue my education. I dreamed of becoming a medical doctor, but God had other ideas: I would go to Bible school. I fought against God. I made a list of all the reasons why Bible school was a bad choice for me. For one, I was trying to rebuild my relationship with my parents.
I was miserable for three days. Unable to sleep, I got up during the night and woke up a friend to pray with me. I prayed a simple prayer, “Lord, wherever you want me to go, I will go. But please give me your peace about it.”
When I told my parents, my father was furious. He said, “It is one thing to accept that religion, but now you are going to be a priest for that religion!” I graduated from Grace Bible Institute in 1972. God continued to provide for me as I taught Bible classes, worked through Sudan Interior Mission for the church, and continued my education. On the weekend, I started work at Youth Center that was part of SIM.
In 1974, the Communist revolution overthrew King Haile Selassie. The military took over the government. High schools and universities were closed. The Communists took the junior and senior high school students and the university students into the countryside to teach us literacy and Communist doctrines. I was among them. The 125 students in my group chose me to be their leader and we were sent to Sudan boarder for two years.
I found a church without a pastor and began spending my evenings preaching the Gospel, even though I was working for the Communist Party during the day. The Communists recognized my lack of fervor for their doctrines and my clear preference for Christianity. In those days, Communists didn’t fire teachers like me. They usually killed us.
I was no exception. Three times they came while I was preaching and lined up to kill me. But each time, they fell away, fighting amongst themselves. One of the men in this group slept in my dorm. He carried a knife with him every night for six weeks to kill me, but God protected me.
I wrote my first book “Christ in The Tabernacle” while I was pastoring the abounded church during that time. After two years of serving as a pastor, the time came for us to go back to the capital city. I went back to work with Youth Center which we changed to Fellowship Church in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. I was the first full time minister at Fellowship. At the same time, I was attending night school to get a high school completion certificate to go college.
Time To Leave Behind For More
By 1978, the persecution against Christians had become so severe that my friends urged me to leave the country. It was nearly impossible to obtain a visa, but God opened the door and I left to Kenya.
Through a Serving In Missions (SIM) scholarship, I came to America to study at the Bible Institute of Los Angeles (Biola University) for two years. There, I majored in intercultural studies. I earned my undergraduate degree at Biola in Intercultural Studies, including cultural anthropology and cross-cultural communication.
I continued my studies, earning both master’s and doctoral degrees from Michigan State University in Curriculum Design and Community Development.
Curriculum and Non-Formal Education, including role of education in development, curriculum for staff development, leadership training, adult education, curriculum research. Minor: Community Development, including concepts and principles of community development, field techniques in community development, international development.
Dissertation: Field Staff Training for Development: A Case Study of one PVO in East Africa (based on field research in six East African countries). After graduation in 1985 with Ph.D. I joined Michigan State University, College of Education, as Assistant Professor, Adult and Continuing Education and as well as managing Office for International Networks in Education and Development (INET).
As I studied, God allowed me to provide leadership in the exiled Ethiopian Church worldwide. I served as Executive Director for Ethiopian Evangelical Association for many years. At the same time, God placed a growing burden in my heart for other leaders—and leaders yet to emerge.
I was blessed with a God fearing wonderful woman of God. Genet and I met for the first time in Chicago at an Ethiopian Evangelical Association annual conference in the summer of 1983 and married in 1987.
In 1989, I accepted the position of Senior Leadership Development Specialist with Compassion International and moved from Lansing, MI to Colorado Springs, CO. I provided leadership training for Compassion staff worldwide as well as leading partners’ development leadership training workshops in more than twenty countries.
In addition, in 1989 I planted Evangelical Ethiopian Church in Denver and served as senior pastor. God has continually expanded my vision and He continues to lead me through this amazing journey. Today, I train pastors, business people, and politicians in countries on five continents. I encourage them to make the most of God’s call on their lives in the strategic part of the world through the ministry of Gospel of Glory.
It’s about His Gospel and we will not mix it. It’s about His glory and we will not touch it.
Gospel Of Glory Was Born
Gospel of Glory was born in 1991 after my visit to Ethiopia to do an Outreach for a mission organization about the relief impact in underground church in Ethiopia during the communism. For this research, we visited with church leaders who had been imprisoned at the height of the persecution in different parts of Ethiopia. As I looked at these people, having neither training nor material resources, nor their struggles, the Lord spoke to me. During the last interview with six leaders, who were in prison for five years, one of them said, “Today the Lord has answered our five years of prayer.” When we asked what he meant, he told us about a prayer journey they were on for five years. When they were in prison, they didn’t have access to a bible or any kind of spiritual books as it was forbidden by the government to do so. They survived by sharing a page from a bible in a restroom with each other.
At that time, they decided to pray for the Lord to raise someone who would write spiritual books that are biblically sound and culturally relevant to help underground churches in Ethiopia. One of the men said, as he was looking into my eyes, with a great smile on his face, “Today, the Lord brought you here so that I would know my prayer has been answered.” I said to him, what do you mean? The young man asked if the Lord had called me to write spiritual books to equip the Body of Christ. I said no sir. I am not a writer. The only thing I wrote at that time was small book in Amharic “Christ in The Tabernacle” and my doctoral dissertation. He didn’t respond. He just smiled back.
I came back and shared the burden I sensed with Genet. After we sought the Lord in prayer we decided to use our savings and write one book that we felt would be helpful to the underground church. The title in English was entitled “Spiritual Leadership”. After we published the book, we started smuggling them in the through friends and missionaries. I thought that was it, but the demand for more books increased beyond our capacity and resources. We started praying and seeking the Lord again and the advice of people we trusted, including the President of Compassion who hired me. After I heard from many of my friends, I went to Mr. Erickson, President of Compassion. After I told him what was going on he said, “Alemu, don’t confuse your calling with an employment. Organizations like Compassion hire, but a true calling is only from God. I believe the Lord is calling you to respond to the need of the underground church.”
That day Genet and I stopped fighting and embraced the call of God to equip Christian leaders and empower the Body of Christ to serve God’s purpose and impact their generation. After we decided to incorporate as a nonprofit Christian organization, we started praying for the ministry name and focus. That is when the Lord gave us the name Gospel of Glory with the focus of “Declaring His glory among the nations” by:
Providing Biblically sound and culturally relevant books
Providing Biblical leadership training
Mentoring emerging young leaders to take office Saul arms and walk with their own identity
Untying leaders who are trapped in the past like Lazarus to “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.” (John 11:44)
In 1991, we incorporated Gospel of Glory as non-profit Christian organization with this covenant - It’s about His Gospel and we will not mix it. It’s about His glory and we will not touch it.
Since 1991 until the year 2000, I was leading this ministry and working for Compassion. In 2000, Genet and I took a step of faith and focused on Gospel of Glory ministries full time. After we were established in Colorado Springs, CO the Lord spoke to us about moving Gospel of Glory’s headquarters to the Dallas area. After much prayer and council, we moved to Dallas in 2010.
In 2014, we established Emerging Glory Center (EGC) with a simple mission of preparing the body of Christ to restore His Glory, host His presence and demonstrate the power of the Gospel.