Betsele Teserra served the church in southwest Ethiopia for many long years, evangelizing and encouraging the believers.
Woizero Betsele was born in 1917 in Mallo, Gadda village, near Sawla in the province of Gamo Goffa, Ethiopia. Her father’s name was Teserra Korra. Betsele spoke the language of Goffainya and also learned to read and write, which at that time was unusual for young women in her area. At about age thirty, she heard the Gospel, and gained a certain knowledge of the Bible through a local church.
She and her first husband, Gagga Sawore, had two children named Gabra Gagga and Baheru Gagga. After her husband’s death Betsele remarried. After her two sons died, her second husband, Shabaro, was killed by an Italian. These sad experiences, nevertheless, made her stronger in her faith; she decided not to remarry but, instead, to serve the Lord until she died.
She established local congregations in Zenga and Byssa Kebeley, Mello Gerffa, Kucha, Wagesho, and finally in the Goffa area where she mobilized women very effectively. In l950 she was severely beaten by the chief of that area for her Christian witness. For a long time she lived and worked at Mella, bringing about a significant change in the local church. When she had first came to Mella, only three people were believers. Later, as a result of her ministry, 300 people were saved.
Betsele was a very prayerful woman. She planted six local churches in the Mella area and six at Zalla Dale. When she prayed for rain because there was a drought, the Lord answered her prayer. She also mobilized many women to serve in their churches. She herself served the church for forty-seven years.
When Betsele died, one of her converts, Ato Dessa Dangaro, was caring for her near the local church at Mella. Her burial service was held in Mella in the presence of many believers who honored and celebrated her life. Many women are today involved in evangelism because of her example and her teaching. Betsele was a healing balm wherever she served and a faithful woman in her generation.
Eyewitness accounts of Mello believers.
Betsele Teserra, interview by author.
Ato Dessa Dangaro, a convert, interview by author.
Written report by Daniel Wassa, secretary of spiritual ministries department in that area.
This article, received in 2004, was researched and written by Belaynesh Dindamo, national staff member of the Kale Heywet Church Women’s Office, under the supervision of Dr. Paul and Mrs. Lila Balisky, DACB Advisory Council members and liaison coordinators at the Ethiopian Graduate School of Theology, a DACB Participating Institution.