b. early 20th century
Kale Heywet Church
Bafe Hatasa is one of the spiritual heroes of the Kale Heywet Church who has lived in southern Ethiopia as an elder, advisor, and prayer warrior.
Bafe Hatasa was born in Dauro zone (previous Kulo Konta District) of southern Ethiopia to a peasant family. During the Italian invasion of 1936-1941, he and his parents had to flee to the Kambata and Hadiya area (present day Omo Valley county) where they lived for nine years. While he was there in 1939 and 1940, he was exposed to the gospel and received the Lord Jesus Christ as his personal savior. He was called by grace to be an ambassador for Christ
Beginning in 1946 and 1947, he was set apart for the Gospel. In Dauro Kale Heywet Church he began to serve in singing, preaching, and teaching the youth starting with the alphabets until they were able to read and understand the Bible. He then served with the Sudan Interior Mission (SIM) as a translator, evangelist, and health assistant in the clinic. He also worked as a teacher in the elementary school from 1952 to 1969. He married Berhane Gensa and they had a large family together.
From 1970 to 1972, he took Bible training in Jimma at the Grace Bible Institute (GBI) and obtained his diploma in three years. Then, between 1973 and 1999, he was in full time service as a Bible teacher and director of the Bible school and as the chairman of the Dauro District Kale Heywet Church and other churches outside Dauro.
During the period from 1977 to 1988 the missionaries were forced to evacuate the country and the Ethiopian churches suffered from persecution and imprisonment. There was a shortage of basic necessities, which sometimes lacked altogether and many believers were flogged. Bafe's family also suffered during this difficult time. Because of the government's strong ideological opposition to the faith, even those who loved this family had to ostracize them because all those who acknowledged the Lord and worshipped and believed in him were cast out of the society during those years. Therefore, there was no support or hope of any kind except in the Lord's grace and presence among the faithful. The district church had no capacity to help because her leaders and the members of the congregation were imprisoned, scattered, and stigmatized. Anyone who visited them, talked or shook hands with them was condemned. Therefore, believers had no freedom to have visitors in their own homes.
Bafe and other church leaders were thrown into prison and flogged until they lost consciousness. Some lost their sight, and Bafe lost the use of his right hand for about a year and could not work to earn his living. In addition to that he had nine children, not yet old enough to work, plus a large extended family. He gave shelter to the persecuted church members and somehow the Lord fed them all. Bafe had no money to take his children to the doctor for treatment but they never got sick. The children never had enough food but they were growing everyday. God protected the family in every way.
At times, when Bafe was unable to help those he was pastoring, his children would see him cry because he could not alleviate the people's suffering. One day, he heard about what had happened to a man by the name of Mara, a leader of a local church. With his hands chained behind his back, Mara was flogged unjustly and taken to the village administrator. A little while later, this man was set on fire with glowing coals on his chest and in his armpits. The administrator asked him: "Do you feel it? Does fire affect you too?" Mara, suffering helplessly, answered him saying: "Except for my Lord's grace present in me, I am just flesh like you!" When Bafe heard this, he cried bitterly because he could do nothing for Mara. But the Lord gave Mara strength and grace, and this man is alive to this day. In all this, Bafe's children were eyewitnesses.
Since 1999, Bafe has been serving the Lord through prayer and as an advisor to the church. In turn, he receives tremendous blessings from the Lord (2006).
Rahel Bafe, (first child of the Bafe family), "Short history of Gospel Heroes, Ato Bafe Hatasa and his wife W/o Berhane Gensa," Part 1 (Amharic article), March 2004.
This biography was researched and written in 2004 by Dr. Dirshaye Menberu, retired assistant professor from Addis Ababa Univesity and graduate of the Ethiopian Graduate School of Theology. The liaison coordinators are Dr. Paul and Mrs. Lila Balisky, serving with SIM and at the Ethiopian Graduate School of Theology.