“Now then, just as the LORD promised, he has kept me alive for forty-five years since the time he said this to Moses, while Israel moved about in the wilderness. So here I am today, eighty-five years old! I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then.” (Joshua 14:10-11)
Ato Fukko Bushala was Born in Southern part of Ethiopia; Sidama zone, Hagereselam Woreda at the specific place called Bursa-Borde. Even though he could not mention the exact date and time of his birth date, he boldly claims that he is 120 years old now. He knows the events that happened during the end of Minilik II (probably after 1906-1911) and liji Iyasu’s time (1913-1916). Ato Fukko was born and grown up among idolatrous family. He had worshipped man-made gods during his childhood just as his own family. Once up on a time, he had heard divine calling through dream. According to the interview we have done with Ato Fukko, God called him in the mid-night through dream while he was living with his family in his birth place. He said that he was summoned by God to believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of living God instead of worshipping man-made and created gods. He extolled God for his endurance and he is surprised still when he becomes conscious about God’s calling.
Ato fukko, who was born among traditional religious family, was left his family to the place God had indicated him. He had relied and depended on Almighty God, when he set out from his birth place and his family members just like Abraham has done. While he left his family’s home, his only possessions were the precious word of God (the Holy Bible) and his stave. He has carried his stave and Bible when moved to Harena forest, where he had arrived the place so called Halila. While he decided to move to unknown place of jungle, his only hope, confidence and fortress was the God of Abraham. Even though he was illiterate, without any educational background, he put his faith in all knowing God, to bear there astonishing fruit at the end.
According to Ato Fukko, there wasn’t any Christian in the place when he arrived at Halila. Therefore, he was highly challenged and tempted to preach the good news there. So he took all accountability and commitment alone. No one was with him to assist and encourage him while he started preaching the gospel for non-believers around Harena. He was preaching, singing, praying, teaching new comers alone. But God has added new believers day to day. They were increased from time to time in the place.
Apart from evangelizing others, he had tried to have connection with the ministers came from Bale. According to Ato Fukko’s evidence, Ato Negash Degefu and Ato Thomas Sodano were coming from former Bale-Dodola (Current West Arsi) to Worka constantly to encourage believers around Worka. He planned to communicate with those ministers and to bring up-to-date himself in Christian dogmas. So, Ato Fukko was eagerly waiting their coming to learn from them in order to teach the new believers around Harena forest.
Ato Fukko said, “I was preaching, teaching, counseling, praying, descipling, evangelizing, witnessing, and doing everything alone. No one was with me in that harrowing forest while I started proclaiming the good news. But I had believed that God was with me in every situation. I praise my supreme and faithful God who has given me health and age to see multitude believers with my necked eyes. Many thousands of believers in Harena forest, especially those who are in Halila-Hada, are the fruits of mine in Jesus Christ.”
Ato Fukko’s eyes were filled with tears when he remembers his past events. Even though he was leading his life and family depending on small farming, he was helping poor, mobilizing and arranging spiritual programs, building worship places, and he was taking initiatives. He did these things, not to have popularity, but to obey his internal feelings and God given responsibility. He opposes greediness which is not from God. His stand is that God wants all believers to be generous from what they have.
We have learned a lot from his testimony that he is generous, humble and model for many believers. He said
I am helping the poor from what I have, not because I have much but to share their feeling. I always understand that they are in need. So I believe that I should help them. I even cry with those who mourn through their difficulties. I am happy if I would have helped the poor all times. I am ready to help them from my little income; however, most of the time I am limited to help the poor.
In the middle of his speech he quoted from Jas 1:27 “Religion that God accepts as pure and faultless in this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world”. He also said that being man is enough to assist poor mankind.
He continued in his speech testifying current situation in Ethiopia by relating with Dergue reign. He stated that gospel is the means of peace and stability for Ethiopians. He said,
Those years of persecution, fear, oppression, anxiety, slavery, being torched, impressments, and being out casted from the society were passed away, and today is the new day. I praised God who substituted those horrible times of doom by incredible peace, liberty, love, freedom of religion and human right.
Ato Fukko did not skip to other themes without presenting his thanks to current Ethiopian government, because he was persecuted and torched during former dictatorial Ethiopian Government. He stated his feeling with grieved emotion, while he spoke about those events. He said,
We were arrested, harshly torched, tied with chains, and we were out casted from our society. The time was so difficult in which we had expected doom and punishment in our daily lives. Some of our friends were murdered, churches’ buildings were flamed, home of many ministers including mine were destroyed and burnt out, and most of our children were forced to move to battle. The only reason of all this punishment was our being believers and worshiping Jesus Christ as our own savior.
According to Fuko Bushala, he himself was arrested in the place where his friends were killed by Dergue. He said “ I was there in prison when my friends were killed in Dodola and Goba.” He praised the Lord who delivered him by His miraculous protection from the hand of murderers.
Currently Ato Fukko is living simple life in Halila-Hada. He has heard about vision, mission and goals of Tabor Evangelical College Mission Department (TEC-MD) in his living place. Since he heard about TEC-MD from local ministers around his local area, he has started permanent prayer about college’s daily activity and success. Ato Fuko was motivated without any advertisement, to help the MD students by sending 2000 Eth birr. Students and staff of MD had discussed over what he has sent in order to come to common agreement. Then it was decided by MD community to buy the books for library of the department is his name. Now a day’s students and staff are using those books as references. We have asked Ato Fukko in order to know what motivated him to help MD students without our request and special advertisement. His answer was an expected. He said “when God provides us the material blessing, he gave us not only to satisfy our needs, but also to share and have communion with each other. As he gave us precious gift we also should give others from what we have given.”
This old man is still young to produce vision, to be the model for contemporary generation; he is still young to preach about Christ.
May God bless him and give him long life with strength!