BGU Leadership Team's Special Immersion in Ethiopia

By the grace of Lord, we were successful in implementing the BGU Ethiopia Event from Feb 22-27, 2024. Our team was comprised of Dr. Belete Mebratu (BGU Academic Dean), Dr. Bekele Bedada (Vice-President for Africa of Global Disciples and BGU graduate), Pastor Desalegn Abebe Ejo (President of the Meserete Kristos (Mennonite) Church and BGU Ph.D student) and Dr. Martine Audéoud (BGU Academic Advisor to the President). We were able to accomplish the activities planned for the week with the support of BGU graduates and students on the ground in Ethiopia who helped plan, connect and fund the onsite activities. The major activities of the event are summarized below:

After Dr. Belete and Dr. Bekele welcomed Dr. Martine in Ethiopia, we drove 40 km east of Addis Ababa to visit Meserete Kristos Seminary (MKS) run by the Meserete Kristos (Mennonite) Church with Pastor Desalegn. The seminary is the highest educational institution to run both graduate (masters) and undergraduate programs. It is the largest seminary in the country with several branches and about 350 students, with a very limited number of faculty with a doctoral degree. Mr. Gishu (who is the Principal / Director of the Seminary) is planning to join our doctoral program and there is a good intention to develop a partnership with BGU.

We visited Lead Star University in Addis Ababa presided by BGU DTL graduate Dr. Zerihun. They have branches and cater to about 3,000 students with their programs going from undergraduate to Ph.D levels. The university is recognized by the Ethiopian Council of Churches. We have discussed the possibility of partnership with this institution. We had a meeting with representatives of Ethiopian Bible Society: Mr Yilmam, head of the Society and Dr. Tesfatsion, Board Chair (and BGU Ph.D Dissertation Advisor), and Endrias Kasharo (BGU DTL Student). It was very encouraging to meet with Dr. Tesfatsion face-to-face and to encourage Br. Endrias to move on with his studies. We highly encouraged Mr. Yilma to join the BGU Ph.D program. Dr. Tesfatsion highly encouraged him and committed to be part of his dissertation committee.

We participated at a special event called BGU Ethiopia Seminar. Over twenty-five guests comprised of BGU alumni, current students and their invited friends joined and attended presentations by Dr. Martine and Dr. Belete. During the session, questions were raised about BGU’s programs of study and further discussions took place where much awareness was created about BGU. Meserete Kiristos Church provided the venue for the event.

We had a very busy Monday packed with many meetings. We visited EGST (Ethiopian Graduate School of Theology) where we met with the Dean, Dr. Misgana and with the Dean of Students, Dr. Lidetu. They are interested in partnering with BGU where we will explore areas of collaborations including support for international accreditation through TRACS. We visited Hope Enterprise University located at a very nice compound which has faith roots and operated as a private university. We were introduced there by one of BGU’s current students, Mr. Asfaw Gbresilassie. We discussed possibilities of collaborations with BGU at the doctoral level. We visited the offices of The Great Commission where the International Leadership University is housed. The university runs graduate programs including a Ph.D study in collaboration with a Dutch university. We discussed and expressed interest for collaboration with BGU. We are anticipating finding a space to host a BGU office for future operations. We also visited the Ethiopian Council of Gospel Believers Churches, an organization that oversees the activities and operations of churches in the country. The intention is to get BGU registered at the Council so that BGU can officially operate in Ethiopia which will allow a variety of partnership building.

We had a meeting called by BGU graduate Dr. Gorden Simango who is the Director of the All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC) in conjunction with the African Union for Advocacy. Six faith-based NGOs that operate in Ethiopia in the areas of aid and related community development work attended the meeting. We made brief presentations on Research as Worship (Dr. Martine) and BGU’s programs of study, as well as leadership and research on a global scale (Dr. Belete). Further discussions took place regarding possible collaboration in common areas of research. A couple of participants have expressed the desire to register for a BGU doctoral degree.

After a final team and debrief lunch, Pastor Desalegn took Dr. Martine to his office where she met with the two leaders of the Meserete Kristos Seminary. They had come on purpose to affirm their desire to develop a strong partnership with BGU in terms of sending 2-3 of their faculty to BGU to get their DMin until all their faculty get their degree. They also expressed their desire to be connected with BGU’s accrediting agency, TRACS.

During all of our visits and meetings, efforts have been made to recruit potential candidates for BGU and we expect some will join our programs soon. Overall, we felt that this intensive week was very fruitful to develop relationships and network in Ethiopia while anticipating further developments and partnerships. Our thanks go to our God who has led these efforts in the smallest details and has made it possible to be a very closely knit effort between BGU staff, graduates and students. The onsite team of Dr. Belete, Dr. Bekele, and Pastor Desalegn managed the events of the week harmoniously.

Dr. Martine Audéoud & Dr. Belete Mebratu