THE REV. GEMECHIS D. BUBA
THE UNITED OROMO EVANGELICAL CHURCHES INC.
San Jose , California
Dear brothers and sisters
Grace and peace to you,
I am writing this letter to you from San Jose California/Bay area home of approximately 5000 Oromo residents. In this area our church was started few years ago but was struggling and facing a number of challenges. Few yet faithful Oromo Christians were determined to keep the church going no matter how small they were and how difficult the work has been.
In a similar way with most of the other churches around the country and the world their greatest problem was lack of a spiritual leader or a Pastor to carryout the work that was started and take it to the next level. According to one of the senior leaders of the church this small community of faith has been praying consistently for a number of years to get a pastor and to reach out to the Afan Oromo speaking community in the Bay area, California.
Dr. Belay Guta the former Pastor of the Oromo church of Los Angeles California, was doing his best to pay a visit to this area and encourage the leaders the community to keep doing what they were doing. In addition to his visit they were getting visiting pastors from other Oromo churches once in a while for a wedding or other special occasions.
Apart from the issue of spiritual leadership the community has been suffering from unnecessary vilifications and mischaracterizations by the other Ethiopian churches in the area. They were called names and have received direct and indirect attacks to keep them distracted from the work they were doing and to weaken the fellowship.
However since 2004 God started doing great things among this community. The changing the tide began to move in their favor with the arrival of two sisters called Martha and Tsehai Temesgen from a small place called Sorga, in Oromia. They were deeply spiritual and devoted young ladies who moved to the Bay area to be with their brother who was a long time founding member of the church, Dr. Brhanu Temesgen. Actually the foundation of the church was laid in his house in the form of Bible study and prayer. Martha and Tsehai were new to the area but they were very familiar with ministry and spiritual warfare. They came straight from a remote Oromian country side where determination and commitment to faith never comes to the negotiation table.
With their gifts and some more new members from back home the spiritual atmosphere started to shift. The community started to see small but significant spiritual improvements and breakthroughs which were noteworthy. This progress came to it’s apex with the miraculous move of The Rev. Guta Debaba and his wife Evangelist Buse from Gori to San Francisco. Pastor Guta and Evangelist Buse were educated and experienced spiritual leaders. They were working in the remotest parts of western Oromia. They were highly loved and respected in the communities of their origin. The spiritual charter they display when you meet them makes a glaring statement about the very fabric of their persona.
When Pastor Guta won a DV lottery he decided to send his wife to California and stay behind in Gori to continue helping the churches under his care in the remotest parts of Wollega. That by itself is spiritual quality of a leader! In his decision to stay behind and continue the work both Evangelist Buse and Pastor Guta agreed. Nonetheless it was the will of God for Pastor Guta to move to California with his wife. This came as a confirmation when he won DV lottery for the second time before Evangelist Buse left the country. Even the personnel in the visa department of the US Embassy in Finfine were fiercely urging and encouraging him to join his wife in this move.
This unusual door and almost to shoving proportion of encouragement to make the move made them make up their mind to come to Bay area California as a couple. As the Oromo church in the Bay area were praying for a leader God was preparing Pastor Guta and Evangelist Buse in the jungles of Gori.
Today the Oromo church in this area is on its way to growth. Their average attendance is continuously increasing. They have recruited about 9 young people as a choir group. The have organized a board of elders;
- Dr. Amanuel Gobena, President
- Dr. Brhanu Temesgen,
- Attorney Brhanu Challa
- Obbo Bekele
- Adde Zewdie
Since November 2004, they have moved into a great worshiping facility in Fremont, California. They are now worshipping in the Good Shepherded Lutheran Church. At this juncture I would like to acknowledge the help of the mission director the Sierra Pacific Synod Pastor Harvey Bloomberg, The Rev. Dr. Linda Boston my good friend and partner in mission, Rev. Dr. Moses the pastor of Good Shepherd South Asian ministry and Bishop Mullen the Syndical leader of the area.
I would like to report this report by mentioning three significant things about this area:
- In August 2005 the Oromo church in Los Angeles hosted the first West coast conference of Oromo churches. People came form Seattle Washington, Las Vegas Nevada, Portland Oregon, San Diego California and the wide Bay area California. That conference was a great success altogether. It is a great encouragement to all of our churches in the west coast United States. At the end of the conference we decided to continue the tradition. Thus the Bay area Oromo church decided to host the West Coast Oromo Spiritual conference 2006. Based on this decision the Oromo church in the Bay area is doing great things in preparation for the conference. Attracting a broad spectrum of participants and ministers from as far as Minneapolis MN.
- The Oromo church in the Bay area blessed a wedding of one of the two young ladies from Sorga, Oromia. This wedding was historical in such a way that it left a lasting impact on the work of the Oromo mission in the Bay area. I was invited to preside over the wedding where I flew in to officiate over the matrimonial service. However the Oromo church in Minneapolis has sent Adde Burtukan a very charismatic and gifted worship leader and obbo Benyam Biratu a rising star in the Oromo music arena. The combination of this gifts and the presence of worship loving Oromo brothers and sisters in the area turned that wedding into a great spiritual revival leaving a great impression on the minds of hundreds of Oromo speakers in the Bay area. As a result of that successful wedding the Oromo church in the bay area gained so many new members. On the other hand the direct and overtly offensive statements made by the leaders of the Amharic speaking congregation regarding the Oromo church movement in the area drove out some self respecting Oromos from that faith community which was another gain for the Oromo church in the Bay area.
- Thirdly my current visit to the area has been another success. After about six months of initial reorganization and new leadership in the person of Pastor Guta, the time came to talk about serious and strategic mission move. Therefore a meeting was planned between Bishop Mullen, the Rev. Harvey Bloomberg and the leaders of the Oromo church in the Bay area. I participated to assist both sides understand each other clearly and start the mission work on a firm ground. On this meeting our wonderful leaders came well prepared to introduc themselves and explain their purpose. In this regard I salute Dr. Amanuel Gobena for his excellence in leadership. On this meeting we have achieved the following three goals:-
- The Synod has agreed to search for a central location for worship and a place where they have more control or if possible own as their permanent place of worship, Christ Lutheran church at Hayward California is mentioned as a good point of attraction.
- Work on transferring the ordination of Rev. Guta Debaba from another tradition to the roster of the ELCA. Bishop Mullen has agreed to consult with the church wide office in Chicago on how to conduct the process in this regard.
- Giving the church an official mission development status which would qualify them for mission support and a new mission under development. I will be working with the Rev. Harvey and Rev. Ruben Duran in the church wide office in Chicago.
Having achieved this three glaring victories we closed the meeting with a prayer and a blessing of Bishop Mullen.
It was a very fulfilling journey for me, and I ask the Oromo Christian community world wide to pray for the success of this new yet firm Oromo mission church to grow become fruitful.
Finally I would love to extend my gratitude on behalf our world wide union, to Dr. Belai Olam, Dr. Linda Boston, Rev. Harvey Bloomberg, Dr. Amanuel Gobena, Dr. Brhanu Temesgen, Attorney Brhanu Challa and Rev. Guta Debaba and many others for their devoted service to this community and for their contribution to the success of this mission effort.
My gratitude also goes to the Rev. Melkamu Negeri and Pastor Haro Guyo of the Oromo Churches in Minneapolis and Portland, and their mission minded leaders for releasing choir groups to come to the west coast and help with the west coast Oromo conference in the Bay area from May 26-28, 2006.
I pray that the west coast conference in May would be such a great moment of attracting many more to the saving grace of God the father as revealed through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let us join hands with them in prayer as they strive to lift the name of Jesus and serve our people in the Bay area.
Submitted with an utmost respect,
Peace and many blessings,
The Rev. Gemechis D. Buba
The United Oromo Evangelical Churches Inc.