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Bekele was born into a rural, non-literate Ethiopian family. Bekele’s father was addicted to alcohol, and abused his three wives. At the age of four, Bekele was officially dedicated for a lifetime of Satan worship, destined to follow in his father’s footsteps.

Despite the absence of a Christian witness in his part of Ethiopia, Bekele was introduced to the Christian faith through a series of incredible events. In recent years his leadership has begun to bring healing among his people.

Bekele’s community, impressed with his leadership gifts, have affirmed him as a leader among them. He is a man who displays deep humility. He asks probing questions and has a passion to develop as a leader. But despite his keen intellect and courageous faith, Bekele is a storycentric learner.

Who Will Develop Him?

Bekele’s story is one among many that signals a global trend among emerging leaders. A new generation across Africa is emerging, often in unconventional ways, to lead. At the same time, they are calling out for help. Their collective voice is saying things such as:

  • • We need help to become healthy leaders who will resist the lure of success to serve in difficult places and against seemingly impossible odds.
  • • We need contextualized leadership models that are appropriate to specific cultures. We prefer our own indigenous leadership heroes for the future.
  • • We need mentors who will personally invest in us through ongoing life-upon-life encounters. Leadership training events are not sufficient alone to bring about the healthy perspectives and leadership maturity we desperately long for.
  • • We need each other. We are motivated by collaboration, not competition. We want to partner with other like-minded leaders, sharing resources as good stewards in our service our societies.
  • • We need leadership development now. It is an urgent priority for our continent in the twenty-first century.

Africa has a bright hope with younger leaders like Bekele, but they need role models—established leaders who will take personal responsibility to invest time and energy to nurture them into maturity. Emerging leaders also need mentors who will help develop them to their highest potential. As these men and women share their heart’s cry for development, now is the time to catalyze a renaissance of faithful, competent African leaders.

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