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From Shepherding in Ethiopia to Earning a PhD in Leadership

Michelle Wilson - 700 Club Producer

Meet Dr. Tariku Fufa. In the spring of 2019, he achieved what at one time seemed impossible, earning his doctorate degree from Regent University’s school of business and leadership. And he was voted the school’s outstanding student. He says he did it for one purpose.

Tariku says, “This is what I'm going to do. Revival for every heart; gospel for every sinner; discipleship for every believer; and leaders for every nation.”

But as a young boy growing up in Ethiopia, he was far from a respected student and leader. When he was 3, Tariku became an outcast among his family and his village because he was abandoned by his mom. Although his father took him in, Tariku never went to school. Instead, he became a sheep herder from the age of 4-9 years old.

Tariku remembers, “When my dad told me that I would never, ever go to school, I thought my life is over and it was so painful.”

But when Tariku turned 10, the government made his father send him to school. Tariku excelled, but at 13, he learned something from his half-brother that would change his life, the love of Jesus Christ.

Tariku shares, “For the first time I knew there is somebody interested in me, loving me. So that day Christ came into my life.”

When his father found out, he and his step mother beat Tariku unconscious and left him on the streets to die. For the next 6 years he did whatever it took to survive.

Tariku recalls, “I was like those donkeys, you know, I carried stuff for people. They would pay me maybe like a penny. I buy food with that.”

He was also asthmatic. One day, when he was 15 years old he was cooking over an open fire. He suffered an asthma attack so severe, he knew he was going to die.

Tariku remembers, “As I was crying and yelling to God, I heard silent and the quiet voice of the Lord. And very clearly saying, ‘Tariku, my son, don't cry. You are not without help. Count three months, I will heal you from this asthma. Once you are healed, count another three months, I will take you to another town and open a door of education for you. You will go to university, and move on to preach my gospel all over the world, in the language that you have never spoken.’”

Months later, Tariku says he was healed of his asthma. He was also attending high school where he earned a government scholarship to college as one of the top students in his country. As Tariku neared graduation, his father learned he was still alive and went to see him to ask for forgiveness.

Tariku says, “I said, ‘Dad, Jesus, whom I followed took care of me. He healed me of the asthma. Jesus gave me hope.’ I said, ‘Yes, Dad, I forgive you because I follow Jesus.’”

Tariku returned home with his father and shared his story of survival. As a result, the entire village, including his father would give their lives to Christ.

Tariku shares, “Seeing them receiving Christ, it was the highest fulfillment in life.”

Tariku went on to earn his Masters and join the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ where he met Buze and they later married. He also became the national director of student ministries in Ethiopia. He preached the gospel all over the world and helped lead thousands to faith in Christ. It was at a Jesus film conference he met Tom Keeley, who invited Tariku to share his story and ministry in the tidewater area. While there, Tariku discovered Regent University.

Tariku recalls, “I just felt everything I saw, like the trees, the fountain, and the building preached the presence of God to me.”

In 2015, Tariku enrolled in Regent’s doctorate school of business and leadership.

Tariku says, “The reason why I came to the School of Business and Leadership was also to get more skills on how to lead from the Word of God. I want to get all this so that I can develop more leaders who can lead like Jesus.”

Tariku was able to take his Regent classes on line while working full-time for Campus Crusade training leaders in 24 countries.

Tariku recalls, “They made it flexible. So as I travel, as long as I have Internet, I’m always connected. The curriculum is there, the professors are available online, and so it made it convenient for me.”

After four years, Tariku graduated with a 4.0 from Regent on May 11th, 2019. He received the outstanding graduate award for the PH.D. in organizational leadership.

Tariku says, “Regent will help you succeed. You'll definitely experience God. You will be exposed to the best professors. Regent is simply the best school that you ever dream of. Praise God! I'm going to be called Dr. Tariku Fufa Gemechu.”

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Read Dr. Tariku Fufa Gemechu's published work:

The Making of Organization Leaders

Description of Discipleship Life Experience in a Servant Leadership Context

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