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Abebe Bune
b. 1940
Full Gospel Church (Debre Zeit)
Ethiopia

Abebe Bune is a lay leader of the Full Gospel Church. God used him as his instrument in establishing this church in Debre Zeit while Abebe was in a period of excommunication from his former Full Gospel Church in another location. That happened because he disagreed with prophecies that were given in the church but which he did not consider to be in accordance with biblical principles. Political authorities deemed him insane because of his faith and put him through severe medical treatment for insanity. But Abebe survived all these things and continued preaching the Word.

Abebe was born in 1940 in the small village of Shasie, in the Sire district of Arsi town. His father, Bune Boru was a farmer and his mother a housewife. Both parents were Arsi Oromo and their language was Oromifa. As a child, Abebe helped his parents on their farm. His father wanted Abebe to be a priest in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church because he observed that his son often talked about God. At the age of ten, Abebe started school where they taught in Amharic. But as Abebe knew only Oromifa, he left school without telling his parents and spent his time in the fields pretending he was in school. When his parents discovered this mischief, they punished him and sent him back to school.

He struggled until the third grade. By that time he had managed to overcome the language barrier and was now the top student in his class. Then, due to sickness he stopped going to school for four years. Afterwards at his friends' urging, he went back to school, this time at the Sudan Interior Mission School near Sire. There he heard about Jesus Christ but could not commit himself to God, because he was afraid of his parents. However, he promised God that he would follow him when he was free in the future. He finished grade eleven and joined the Ethiopian Air Force in 1962.

In 1964, he was sent to Dire Dawa where he attended a local Orthodox Church. He worshiped God and began reading his Bible by himself. Soon afterwards, after receiving a tract on salvation he remembered the promise he had made to God and began weeping. That same day, he decided to commit his life to Jesus and spent fifteen days in Dire Dawa fasting and praying and participating in a fellowship.

He began to witness about his faith in Jesus Christ in market places, at the hospital, at the prison, and at schools. Through his ministry, many souls were brought to Christ. In January 1967, while he was witnessing in the Air Force hospital, a demon-possessed woman fell on the ground and he commanded the evil spirit to leave her. The director of the hospital, a Yugoslavian doctor, came and stopped him from praying. By then, all the patients were out of their beds because of Abebe's witnessing and praying. But the doctor took him to his office and told him that there was no God and no devil, but as Abebe did not submit to what the socialist doctor said, this resulted in a serious disagreement. Consequently, the doctor concluded that Abebe was mad and locked him in his office for the night.

The next day, he sent him to Amanuel Hospital in Addis Ababa where mentally ill people were treated. There, the doctors give him medication to make him sleep for hours so they could question him about his faith when he awoke but it did not have any affect on him. The doctors gave him electric shock treatment many times and continued to question him about his faith. After a time, he began forgetting people's names but he never forgot Jesus' name and his faith. The shock treatment was so severe that he had to be taken back to his bed on a stretcher. At last, the doctors tired of him. They warned him not to read the Bible and sent him back home.

Abebe continued practicing his faith but his colleagues mocked him, saying that he loved a book the drove him mad. Under the Dergue regime, he had to pay for his Christian faith by being denied promotions and was not given any opportunity to go abroad for education. [1] At that time Christians were typically treated this way in their workplace.

However Abebe continued in his faith and became an elder of his church in 1979. When many prophecies were given in the church, he would evaluate the prophet's pronouncements according to God's word. The chairman of the elders also prophesied and Abebe opposed him because he did not believe that the prophecy was in agreement with Biblical principles. As a result, he was excommunicated from the Full Gospel Believers' Church along with four other families. Following this, Abebe attended the Catholic Church until he established his own.

One day at school, the children were told that they were going to the Kebele office another day to have fun and listen to socialist music. [2] When he heard this, Abebe was worried about what his children would be exposed to. He took them to the Finnish Orphanage for a Bible study instead. Then, he asked the orphanage workers to help those who had been excommunicated from the church by giving them a place of worship. The orphanage officer introduced Abebe to Zecharias Hage who confirmed that he was among those excommunicated from the Full Gospel Believers' Church.

Abebe and his friends began to worship in the orphanage on Sundays. Here too, Abebe and his group suffered opposition from the Kebele, but the orphanage staff protected the group by giving each of them a job in the orphanage. Not long afterwards, through Abebe's teaching there was a revival among the orphans and many were saved. This began to grow into a secret church and Abebe became chairman of the elders. He took care of the believers and devised strategies to continue to survive as an underground church without being discovered by the Kebele. He served in that church for twenty-four years and through his wisdom the church grew. His ministry was not limited to witnessing and leading the church but he also knew how to make peace among those who had conflicts.

Later, while the Dergue regime was still in power, at a later election of Kebele officials he was elected-this was possible because the Kebele did not know of his secret church activities-and he served as a treasurer for the Kebele shop for five years. In 1989 he was again appointed by the Debre Zeit court to lead the Kebele judges in deciding issues before the community.

Abebe has now retired and preaches God's word in different places. He continues to prepare himself for ministry by taking theological courses. He works in a private institution called Ratson (2004). His wife's name is Adgesh Belayneh and they have been married for thirty-three years. They are blessed with six children whose names are Mihret, Henok, Ftsum, Abel, Mikias, and Yodahie.

Dirshaye Menberu



Notes:

1. The Dergue was a Marxist regime that was in power in Ethiopia from the mid 1970s until 1991. In many places, they severely persecuted Christians for their faith.
2. The Kebele is a small unit of the government instituted under the Dergue and is literally known as a peasants' association.

Sources:

Endale Sebsebe, "A Biography of Abebe Bune Boru," student paper written at the Ethiopian Graduate School of Theology (EGST), Addis Ababa (August 2004).


This biography was researched and written in 2004 by Dr. Dirshaye Menberu, retired assistant professor from Addis Ababa University and graduate of the Ethiopian Graduate School of Theology. The liaison coordinator is John Wheeler-Waddell, serving at the Ethiopian Graduate School of Theology.