Tariku Fufa, a second-year doctoral student, is just one example of a School of Business & Leadership (SBL) student dedicated to making a difference. After earning a master’s degree in Africa, he began looking for Christian universities and realized Regent, a place he had visited while traveling in the U.S., was the perfect fit.
“I’ve been to several other universities,” said Tariku. “This is totally different. The professors here are Godly people. They are servants who love you, care for you and are humble. I don’t see a gap between the students and professors.”
Tariku was born into a polygamous family in a small village in Ethiopia. His dad had three wives, and Tariku was one of 12 half-brothers/sisters. He was born with asthma, and at age one, his mother divorced, dropped him off in the street, and ran away, leaving his father to raise him.
“When I was four, my dad sent me into the village to become a shepherd and look after cows and sheep,” said Tariku. “I never thought I would go to school. Now, as I study for my Ph.D., I just connect with the kindness and the goodness of my heavenly father, because my earthly father said no grade one education, even when he was forced by the government, but my heavenly father said actually, you go to the top.”
Tariku gave his life to Christ at age 13. This infuriated his father whose religion was one of mixed values ranging from witchcraft to Islam. He beat Tariku fiercely, leaving permanent scars, and threw him out into the street where he suffered blindness for three weeks. He’d go without food for three days at a time, feeling rejected and isolated as he managed to find bread or a banana to snack on while wondering about his future.
Tariku persistently prayed, read the Bible and shared his faith in Christ with others who nicknamed him “Spaghetti Boy” since he was so thin. God, though, Tariku says, was good. He found work and went to high school. After six years of no communication, he ran into a very surprised and remorseful father who was amazed to see that Tariku’s asthma was miraculously cured.
“He shed tears,” said Tariku. “My dad cried, and he said, ‘Son, would you forgive me?’ I said, ‘Yes dad, I can forgive you because I believe and follow Jesus who forgives people.’”
Once his family saw how he had survived, they became believers in Christ. Because of his academic achievement qualifying him for a university scholarship, Tariku gained popularity in his village, but gave credit to Jesus for the achievement.
“Jesus became so famous in that little village of 2,000,” said Tariku. “They called Him Jesus of Tariku. For them, Jesus of Tariku is different than the Jesus of their ancestors. Jesus of Tariku is so kind. He lifts people up, heals people. So, they believed in Jesus, and then the story changed. There was victory over persecution.”
Tariku studied accounting at a university for four years. He performed well while preaching and sharing his faith and discipling others. He earned a new nickname, “Tariku, Jesus major, business minor.” Seeing his work, Campus Crusade for Christ invited Tariku to work for them for no salary. Tariku faced an opportunity to earn $500 per month, a hefty sum where one dollar per day could allow an Ethiopian to live well.
“When I prayed, God said, ‘Tariku, I need you,” said Tariku. “Remember when you were on the street, I was with you. I was the one who raised you. From day one, this world turned its back on you. God said, ‘It’s my face and love for you that made you who you are.’ I said, ‘But, missionary life is difficult!’ God said, ‘Surrender all.'”
Tariku surrendered everything, and told God he’d go wherever He’d send him. For the past 14 years, Tariku said he’s not once regretted his decision to join Campus Crusade for Christ. He began working with 60 students, and after eight years, those 60 shared their faith and discipled others and the organization grew from one campus to 100 campuses, from 60 students to 7,300 students.
Tariku married and moved to Zimbabwe in 2010 to provide leadership for Campus Crusade for Christ in 24 countries. Through prayer and preparation in Regent’s Doctor of Organizational Leadership program, Tariku will take responsibility for student ministry which works with millions of students. He says the experience has prepared him to see revival in the hearts of others, spread the gospel, encourage discipleship and practice Christian leadership.