Advancing the Conversation of Jesus
Six years ago, my wife Diana, and I, hosted Tamrat Layne, and his wife, Mulu, the former Prime Minister and First Lady of Ethiopia. As we chatted together in our living room, our “get-to-know-you” chat quickly turned into the most amazing conversation I’ve ever experienced!
I’ve had the rare privileges of meeting with many Heads of State (Senators, Congressmen, Members of Parliament, Kings, and Presidents), speaking on the Dalai Lama’s platform before nearly 800 Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, and Christian clergy, participating frequently in the President’s National Prayer Breakfast, lecturing on the largest corporate platforms in the world and enjoying a private audience with Pope Francis to discuss the person of Jesus, at his request.
All of these encounters were both exciting and humbling, but I’ve never had the experience of having a conversation with a person who has had as dramatic and supernatural encounter with Jesus as Tamrat. Tamrat’s saga is a Nelson Mandela story, combined with that of the Apostle Paul on the Road to Damascus…on steroids! I’ve never heard anything like it and never expect to hear anything like it again!
At the age of 19, Tamrat was a communist and atheist who was initially out to change the nation of Ethiopia, to help the poor among his people and to overthrow the cruel and ruthless, Soviet-backed regime. They fled to the mountains to build an army to overthrow the then largest army in all of Africa. It took them 15 years to build an army of over 150,000 and they did overthrow the oppressive regime.
After serving 5 years as Prime Minister of Ethiopia, he questioned their tactics and his “friends” immediately decided to throw him into prison, sentencing him to 18 years. Tamrat became sick enough to be sent to a local hospital, still under guard. A nurse who was attending him was sent by God with a note to introduce Tamrat to the only one who is capable of changing a person’s life, a city, a nation, or the world. His name? Jesus.
Through this simple introduction, Tamrat reached out to Jesus and Jesus dramatically found Tamrat right there in the prison hospital, inviting Tamrat to follow Him. Tamrat asked the nurse for anything she could get him that could tell him more about this Jesus. She brought him a small pocket Bible. Then, for the next seven years in solitary confinement, Tamrat studied the Scriptures in order to get to know Jesus. He had no Bible teacher like me to mess him up in any way. The Spirit of God quietly taught Tamrat the Scriptures about Jesus.
I never really understood the revolutionary, life-changing, dynamic of making disciples, until I met Tamrat. The powerful army of 150,000 was built and held together by a communist curriculum, written by Tamrat for the revolutionary, communist cell groups. Today, as followers of Jesus, Tamrat and I are building a much larger army and holding it together with a new Jesus curriculum, called THE WAY.
To read more of this story, CLICK HERE for the rest of the article and hear how Tamrat and I and our wives have written a new Jesus curriculum.
PS. Here Tamrat’s story live, by inviting him to speak at your Church or organization!