Fantahun Beerarra understands the power of the Holy Spirit. Growing up in Ethiopia he found he was skillful with numbers. He studied for degrees in accounting, business and draftsmanship. For many years he worked as an accountant and planned to earn a Ph.D. in either physics or electrical engineering. But the Holy Spirit was prompting him to become involved in ministry.
Beerarra would never have thought to attend a seminary, but “It was a call from God,” he said. “I didn’t want to touch [theology]. I would never go to a theological school. I was good with numbers and bad with reading and writing.” However, last year he came to Luther Seminary to visit Masresha Chufa, ’04, a friend from the Ethiopian Lutheran Church. “So I saw Luther and I liked it,” he said.
Beerarra heeded God’s persistent call and enrolled at Luther Seminary this fall. “There is more to know and experience in the presence of the Lord,” he said.
“Challenging!” is how Beerarra explains his experience at Luther so far. A first-year Master of Arts student who is deciding between educational leadership and youth and family ministry, he is learning things he never expected. “I am exposed to some things I have never known. It’s making me think deeply and pray fervently,” he said.
He compares his seminary experience as a detour from “the market road.”
“The market road,” he describes, “is a path with grass on each side. It has been bulldozed by human feet. It is safe, but if you step out you might find thorns and snakes.” For Beerarra, Luther Seminary is not the market road. It is a new path set before him that is often filled with the unknown. However, Beerarra makes it clear that he is open, willing to learn, and sensitive to the Holy Spirit.
After completing his degree at Luther he wants to return to Ethiopia. In the past, Beerarra was highly involved in the ministry of the Ethiopian Lutheran Church. He, along with a group of new believers, planted three small churches that have grown across northern Ethiopia. One such congregation grew so large that it has now become a synod. When he returns he hopes to start a theological school, teach there, and continue to preach the good news.
“The church needs both the Living Word and the Holy Spirit. Without both you are lost. We need both to work like the body of Christ,” he said. “In the last days, God is going to rebuild the tabernacle of David, where expressive praise and worship will usher in ‘the residue of men’ and ‘all gentiles’ (Acts 15:16; Amos 9:11-15). And if we do that, the youth and younger people will fill the church. But it takes the New Wine and new wineskins that are willing not to run on the market road, but tread on the trail of the less traveled biblical, Davidic praise and worship following after the Holy Spirit.”