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Berhanu, Dr. Habte
1952 to 2008
Berhane Wongel (Baptist) Church
Ethiopia

Berhanu Habte, a national and international promoter living in Ethiopia, was the founder and president of "Arise Ekklesia."

Berhanu Habte was born in Addis Ababa on January 15, 1952. His father, Habte Wolde Mariam, was a policeman, and his mother, Zenebech Wolde, was a housewife. He was the third of four children. Berhanu's father was a highly disciplined man who had a strong desire to raise well-educated children. Berhanu learned to read and write in a village or religious school, where his formal education began at age five. He finished his elementary schooling at Sebeste Negasi School and continued his high school education at the General Wingate Secondary School, having won a scholarship in 1964. Four years later he passed his Ethiopian School Leaving Certificate Examination (ESLCE) with very good grades. While he was in high school he aspired to become an engineer.

One year before finishing high school, he received Jesus Christ into his life. Before this happened, he had doubted God's existence because of what he had observed in the lives of some members of the Orthodox Church. In addition, Berhanu was reading books that led him to have even more doubts about God.

At that time, tragedy struck Berhanu's family when his older brother suddenly died of asthma. He began suffering from fear and depression after that because when he was at home for vacations, he slept on his dead brother's bed. One day he met a friend who was carrying a tract, and Berhanu made a negative comment about the tract. However, his friend's testimony impressed him, and he returned to his high school as a Christian, where he felt the responsibility of witnessing to his friends.

He entered the medical school of Addis Ababa University for reasons he did not understand at that time, and continued witnessing in an elementary school where he went regularly, three mornings each week, to share the gospel during the morning flag ceremony before classes. He also began serving God among high school students. When he reached the third year of his medical training, study in the basic sciences was so intense that he felt that he should make a choice. He needed to continue with his studies or [start being] a witness for the gospel. After seeking God's guidance, he was under the impression that he should continue in both directions. That year, he went for all night prayers every Friday, took some rest on Saturday morning, and served God in the afternoons and in the Sunday service. Although he was very busy, he passed his written and oral examinations. God's miracle in his life was very clear to him, and he understood that God was taking control over his personal life, from the selection of his field of study to its conclusion, and that he himself had nothing to be proud of.

When he became a fourth year student in 1972, he had an amazing dream about a revolution in the country, in which the students and the police collaborated. He woke up from his dream and thought it was odd for the police to get involved with students in the revolt instead of opposing them. At that moment he saw a vision and a man before him saying, "Do you know that you have a national call? Distance yourself from sin and guilt." He was amazed and took notes on the message, because this was an outstanding voice and he would never forget it. That vision continued to be the driving force in his service for God in whatever situation he was in. He began to see the concept of serving God as a priority.

Two years later, the Ethiopian revolution actually occurred as he had seen it in his dream. In July of 1975, he completed his seven years of medical training and received his MD degree. He was then assigned, through the casting of lots, to Bale Goba Hospital. His friend Dr. Milkias, now deceased, received the same assignment, so both of them started their medical profession there. The people in Bale Goba were very uncomfortable with these two young Ethiopian doctors because they never thought that they would be able to treat patients like white doctors. However, these two young doctors started working faithfully and even practiced minor surgery with much success. God was working miracles through their sincere efforts. Berhanu soon became the medical director of the hospital and he also built up a good relationship with the Christians in that area.

In the town of Goba there was often great commotion because the militia and the 4th Brigade of the Ethiopian Army had their headquarters there, and Christians were persecuted by the political representatives and cadres. Berhanu also faced a lot of this persecution in his three and a half year stay in Goba, which was the main reason he eventually left Goba for the medical faculty of Addis Ababa University. A year before he left Goba, he was offered a scholarship by the head of the Internal Medicine department for specialization in England. However, Berhanu prayed over it, and he did not feel inclined to go abroad because he was content with his work and spiritual life in Goba. But later, the persecution he faced from various sources, and especially from the political officers and cadres, was so severe that the government officials of the province decided that he should leave the province.

Therefore, in April of 1978, he went to Black Lion Hospital and began his service as a junior medical officer. He also continued to serve God as a leader in his local church, the Berhane Wongel Church, associated with the Baptist General Conference mission. After a few months of work in that hospital, the director of the Internal Medicine department talked to him about the scholarship he had been offered a year before, while he was still in Goba. The door was still open for his consideration. The director asked him to consider the offer again before rejecting it a second time. This time Berhanu accepted the scholarship and left with his friend, Dr. Milkias, for England, to do a two-year specialization. He then returned to Addis Ababa University, gaining the rank of Assistant, and then Associate Professor, and teaching in the Graduate School of the medical faculty, beginning in August of 1981.

Berhanu married Almaz Tarekegn, a nurse, on July 17, 1983 and they were blessed with two beautiful daughters: Peniel (born on July 4, 1984), and Bersabeh (born on November 22, 1985). Both of them are now college students. He obtained a bank loan and built a house. He dreamed of settling as fast as he could, but that was not easy for him as he never wanted to do a part-time job, and all the other things he tried did not work out because they were not in God's plan for his life.

In 1985, he was invited to go to America to visit the Baptist Alliance. The plane he was traveling on was hijacked, and during that trauma, he was able to witness to and pray with many people on the plane. Some passengers promised him that they would go to church and thank God when they arrived at their respective homes. He was thankful to God that he was able to use the compensation from the hijacking to settle his mortgage bill.

In his heart, Berhanu yearned for more time to do God's work. His teaching activity and lecture preparation took a lot of time, along with his hospital duties, but he did all of it happily. At a turning point in his ministry, he was invited to attend an international charismatic conference on world evangelism in Brighton, England, in 1991. While there, he heard God's voice: "For the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea." (Isa.11:9). After arriving home he compiled the information from that conference into a "structure" of ideas that resembled twelve pillars. It was a representation of how to do God's work properly, how to evangelize the world, and how to care for the Church.

In April of 1995, evangelist Reinhardt Bonke visited Ethiopia and gave training for church leaders that helped him decide to get more fully involved in God's work. In May of 1995 he went to Korea as a delegate from the Evangelical Churches Fellowship of Ethiopia (ECFE) for the global consultation on world evangelism. The purpose of this conference was to [plan to] reach the unreached peoples [of the world] by the year 2000. He went as a group leader with seven other members. He submitted his report to the ECFE and his heart was more than ready for action. As a result, in 1995, the ministry "Arise Ekklesia" was initiated, and he was formally commissioned by the Berhane Wongel Church to conduct this new ministry, which has now spread to many places in Africa. The main teaching material is entitled "The Triumphant Church" and it is published in Amharic and English.

Before he started the ministry he had seen in a dream that it would be a ministry for continental Africa. In his dream he saw a man who asked him: "Where do you serve?" Berhanu responded in his dream: "God has spoken to me on how to serve him, but I do not know where to serve him." As they were talking, Berhanu saw a map of the world behind the man who was talking to him but the man could not see what Berhanu saw behind his back. On the world map, the continent of Africa was illuminated like a neon light. He woke up startled by the dream. This happened in the morning, and he was able to discern the meaning of the dream, which was confirmed again four more times. He cried before God, expressing how much desire he had in serving Ethiopia as well. Finally he saw that Ethiopia is also a part of Africa, and his ministry emerged from his church, continuing to serve other churches in Ethiopia. The training course that he put into published form has been given in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Malawi, and Nigeria. Published books include "Commonly Abused Spiritual Gifts" and there is also Bible study material on discipleship and local church leadership. There is also a plan to produce easy-to-read, low-cost educational pamphlets for the general public.

Berhanu also gained a first degree in theology from the International Correspondence Institute (ICI). He accomplished this mostly while he was travelling to rural and remote areas by bus. This degree has helped his ministry very much. Another outcome of the ministry is that the gospel is being preached in the remote area of Borena, in collaboration with the missionaries of the Baptist General Conference. One church and two gospel centers have been established in the small villages of this Oromo-speaking area.

Berhanu Habte died on February 15, 2008, in a motor vehicle accident that occurred while he was driving his car to Butajira, where he had a ministry appointment. He had published thirteen books by then (with another book ready for publication), and he had a fifteenth book that was still unpublished. The publishing of all these books was his own ministry. [1]

A Memorial prayer service was held for Dr. Berhanu Habte on March 23, 2008, and for that occasion his family and friends prepared a publication giving a short account of his life history, profession and ministry, and his publications. In those publications, seventeen people who knew him closely from other African countries and from abroad have given their testimony about him. To mention a few: Pastor Dr. Jonny Wade Long, a Presbyterian minister of World Harvest Mission, Church resource team leader, USA; Dennis S.T. Amur, World Vision International, the International Board Chairman; Dr. U. Obed, Ibadan, Nigeria; Dr. Daniel Fekadu, Ethiopian Doctors Association Chairman in Britain; Pastor Fekadu Tadesse, General Secretary, Ethiopian Berhane Wongel Church, Addis Ababa; his younger Brother, Tamiru Habte, Addis Ababa; and Minas Bruck, a close friend, Addis Ababa, have given their testimonies. All these people and many more have written about the character, faith, service, and professional ethics of the late Dr. Berhanu, with admiration. [2]

In 2010, his biography was written [using material] from the personal notes of Dr. Berhanu's diary, on the occasion of his third year memorial. [3]

Dirshaye Menberu, Ph.D.


Notes:

1. "Rise Ekklesia" and the printing presses mentioned in the books listed below served as printers only. The book list is as follows:
1. "The Church Moving Forward Victoriously at the End of Time" (Amharic), Litto Printing Press, 1999 (Ethiopian Calendar, or E.C.), 2006-7. G.C.
2. "The Triumphant Church" (English Version of #1), Litto Printing Press, (2000 E.C.) 2007-8.
3. "Spiritual Gifts we have Despised by Using them Wrongly" (Amharic), Litto Printing Press, (2001 E.C) 2008.
4. "Elders or Pastoral Leadership" (Amharic), Rehobote Printing Press, 2004.
5. "From Hypocrisy to Christ-Likeness" Vol. 1 (Amharic), Beranna P.P., 2005.
6. "From Hypocrisy to Christ-Likeness" Vol. 2 (Amharic), Rehobote P.P., 2007.
7. "From Hypocrisy to Christ-Likeness" Vol. 1 (English), Litto P.P., 2005.
8. "From Hypocrisy to Christ-Likeness" Vol. 2 (English), unpublished, ready for printing.
9. "From Hypocrisy to Christ-Likeness" Teaching Manual, (Amharic), Great Commission Ethiopia P.P., 2006.
10. "Christian Ethics" (Amharic), Great Commission Ethiopia P.P., 2006.
11. "The Full Counsel of God" (Amharic), Great Commission Ethiopia P.P., 2007.
12. "Spiritual Warfare" (Amharic), Great Commission Ethiopia P.P., 2005.
13. "The Law of the Tabernacle" (Amharic), Great Commission Ethiopia P.P., 2006.
14. "Sonship for Africa" training manual by Jonny Long, (translation into Amharic), Great Commission Ethiopia P.P., 2006.
15. "Overcoming the Fierce Spiritual Battle on the Holy Mountain," (unpublished).
2. "Dr. Berhanu Habte's Memorial service," Amharic Publication.
3. "Felege Berhanu (Berhanu's life path), Wondiye Ali, 2010, Rehobote Printers Press.



Bibliography:

Habte, Berhanu. Interview by author, 2004.


This biography was researched and written in 2004 (and revised and finalized in August 2010) by Dr. Dirshaye Menberu, retired professor from Addis Ababa University and graduate of the Ethiopian Graduate School of Theology. The DACB liaison coordinators are Dr. Paul and Mrs. Lila Balisky, serving with SIM at the Ethiopian Graduate School of Theology.