about Bridge

BRIDGE GLOBAL FORUM

Bridge Global Forum for Ethiopian Christians (known as “Bridge”) is a 501(c)(3) organization established in March 2019. The need for the formation of such an organization was felt by a small group of Ethiopian professionals to tackle the mounting social problems the Ethiopian diaspora youth are experiencing.

BRIDGE is an organization which was born out of a keen awareness of some of the new challenges of the Ethiopian Diaspora communities in the US and other parts of the Western world. Giving further impetus to its formation were the personal tragedies suffered by some of its founding members. The main thrust of BRIDGE is thus to identify the major challenges encountered by the Habesha Diaspora youth and seek ways by which these challenges can be successfully met. The following are a few of the challenges identified among Ethiopian diaspora youth: the rise in the number of school dropouts, the increase in the number of incarcerated young adults, the growing number involved in drug-related problems, the heartbreaking scenes of homelessness unfolding in some major cities, depression and associated problems, including suicide.

These problems seem to be unnoticed by the Ethiopian immigrant communities, but are slowly causing serious damage to the social fabric of families and the community at large. They particularly bear adverse effects upon spousal relations, causing considerable stress on the dynamics of family life involving the well-being of children.

We do not fully know the causes of these harmful trends. They can be attributed to several interrelated factors such as: the lack of preparation and proper adjustment to a new culture, identity crisis, the challenges of living in two different cultures, unexpected encounters with racism, conflicting parenting styles, etc.

BRIDGE has taken the initiative to at least start the conversation and engage the Ethiopian diaspora as well as its host community towards recognizing, as well as mitigating the problems, and ultimately exploring workable solutions. BRIDGE provides a platform for mobilizing various members of the community to engage in the noble cause of saving innocent and talented young people from jeopardizing their lives. The organization is committed to doing anything it can to empower the Ethiopian diaspora youth to lead a goal-oriented and purpose-driven life, as well as to become creative contributors to their host society.

A group of likeminded Ethiopians who happen to share common burdens regarding the state of affairs of Ethiopia and the church in Ethiopia have been praying for years believing that God has a higher purpose for our country and its citizens. We were united by the conviction that, despite our rich history and God-given natural and human resources, we have not lived up to the expectations of our potential. We realized that God has endowed Ethiopia with so many blessings and opportunities that would allow for the majority of the people to meet basic livelihood needs, such as modest housing, clean water, and access to basic health care. That has not been the case. The majority of our people are still languishing in poverty. How do we explain this conundrum? As Christians we believe that there are dark forces operating behind the scenes that are hindering the progress of our people and the nation at large and that the ultimate solution is to be in right standing with God the Father through Jesus Christ, His son, who has granted salvation in its fullest sense to all through His sacrificial death. We look to his unchanging claims, “I am the WAY, the TRUTH, and LIFE.” (John 14:6)

BRIDGE is a product of PRAYER and PAIN; tears and tragedies: For almost four years, Christians who are close friends and associates have been praying together to guide us into which direction to move as the burden weighed on us more and more. We decided to hold weekly prayer times over the phone. Since we lived in different states that was the best possible option to maintain the regularity of our prayers and overcome the logistical constraints that distance creates. With the progress of time a consensus was reached amongst us that our prayer should focus mainly on topics related to our country, the Diaspora Ethiopian community, and the church.  The political dynamic prevailing in Ethiopia during 2016-2018 seemed to be both unsettling and promising, and that spurred us to go beyond prayer and take some practical steps. That is when we took a deep breath and decided to take further actions to institutionalize our ideas and engage our world to make a difference and be influencers.

Years of prayer and consultation with many Christians within the Diaspora Christian community eventually led to the crystallization of our heart-felt concerns and the birth of BRIDGE.

Yet, another crucial moment God allowed and used in the journey of the birth of BRIDGE was the unfolding of pain in the nature of family tragedies. Two of the founders have experienced losses, albeit on different accounts. The rest of the board members have also encountered, if not personal tragedies, analogous situations. Dr. Mengistu Yemane now the President of BRIDGE, lost his young daughter in 2016, and Dr. Tibebe Eshete, Secretary of Bridge, lost his son unexpectedly in 2018.  These tragic events not only laid the immediate context but served as the last straw catapulting the formation of the organization. God gave the grace for board members to rise above their perplexing dilemmas and to turn the pain into platforms.  As the wife of one of our board members put it:        “Our pain is not in vain”. Pain or tragedy paradoxically has an intriguing ability to open us to see new truth and to get us moving into a new direction.

It was against this backdrop that the deliberation for the founding of BRIDGE took place in October 2018 in Baltimore, MD. It was in that three- day consultative meetings that five of the current members of BRIDGE discussed and crafted the overall vision, objective, and direction of the new Christian ministry which was formally registered as Bridge Global Forum for Ethiopian Christians in MD in December of 2019.

BRIDGE has gained the status of a US registered non-profit 501 (c) (3) organization EIN: 83-2918464 with the following board members:

Dr. Mengistu Yemane:  Medical doctor, President

Dr. Samuel Semgne: Medical doctor, V/ President and Treasurer

Dr. Tibebe Eshete: Educator and author, General Secretary and mission advocate

Pastor Endalkachew Sahle: Pastor of a mega church, Silver Spring,

Dr. Abdella Usman, Expert on Integrative Holistic Mission, Board member and ordained minister

Dr. Alemu Fite: Nutrition Scientist, Board member

Dr. Bikat Sahle: Phycologist (Fuller), Board member

Sister Amakelech, Author/Mother/Community Organizer, Board member

  • Enhance the role of the church to play its kingdom mandate
  • Stand in between to bring reconciliation
  • Serve as a voice to overcome barriers
  • Foster communication unity
  • Enhance the engagements of the church in the changing social and cultural landscape of the Diasporic Christian community
  • To draw and galvanize the attention of the church towards concerted action for the next generation
  • Create a global platform for Ethiopian Christians for sharing and exchanging ideas
  • To provide a visible face and an active voice for Ethiopian Christians across the globe
  • To raise significant awareness of the church in the areas of public witness
  • To serve as a catalyzing agent in bringing the scattered capacity of the church to impact society
  • Organize consultative inter-generational workshops/seminars on strategic topics
  • Launch strategic intercessory prayers
  • Reach out to local churches through speaking engagements and other channels
  • Identify and mobilize the resources of the church to enhance the mission of the church
  • Establish linkage among various professional Christian groups to leverage synergy
  • Bridge aim to play a catalyst role for the church by demonstrating the following characteristics:
    • Presence:
      • Being there as needed
    • Relevance:
      • Being appropriate and pertinent
    • Credibility:
      • Being trust-worthy and impartial serving with integrity
    • Voice:
      • Being/becoming a redemptive voice echoing and resonating a call for service
    • Contagious:
      • Being on the move with passion and love
    • Guided by the four “Rs” in accord with Isaiah 58:12
      • Rebuild: Rebuilder of ancient ruins
      • Raise: Raise up foundations
      • Repair: Repairer of the breach
      • Restore: Restorer of streets
  • The name BRIDGE has symbolic and actual significance. A bridge:
    • Connects nodes and facilitates travel
    • Is neutral and it serves all passersby
    • Stands in between, reconciling
    • Is made up of materials of different quality of strength and durability and resistance
    • Is erected to put up with heavy loads
    • Is created to serve the interests of others, not its own interests
    • We hope BRIDGE lives up to it expectations
  • To serve as platform/catalyst to nurture mutual understanding and cooperation among Ethiopian Diaspora churches
  • To empower and equip the Ethiopian Diaspora church to meet its Kingdom mandate in a holistic manner
  • To forge intergeneration connectivity
  • To prepare the church to be critically engaged in the next generation
  • To serve as a nodal point to foster unity, renewal and strength within churches
  • The following is a list of the major online consultations BRIDGE has performed in the short span of its establishment:
    • Discerning the time: a call for Action (05/30/20)
    • Anchoring our Identity in Christ (09/08/20)
    • Ensuring continuities, modalities and directions (09/22/20 – 09/30/20)
    • Mental Health and the church (10/24/20)
    • Family Life Matters: intergenerational dialogue, part I (12/14/20)
    • Family Life Matters, intergenerational dialogue, part II (01/09/21
    • Healing for the Nation (05/06/21)
    • A call for National Prayer (05/15/21)
    • Faith and Academia (two parts)
      • Part I:
        • Panel discussion with three Ethiopian scientists (Professor Solomon Bililign, Professor Hailu Kinde, and Dr. Alemu Fite (02/06/21)
      • Part II:
        • Interactive dialogue of young adults with Professor Solomon Bililign (03/06/21)
      • Christian Parenting: Culture and Communications (in collaboration with Bethel Evangelical Church NY (05/10/21)
      • BRIDGE has also carried out a series seminar for local churches on a vast array of topics including: Christian identity, race, culture, fatherhood, conflicts concerning diasporic and the host culture etc.
      • By God’s grace, BRIDGE has established the local chapter of its ministry in Ethiopia under the leadership of Dagmawi Wube
      • BRIDGE is instrumental in the setting up of Gen2Gen as its youth wing and heir, led by Pastor Nebiye Kellel in May 2020
      • Gen2Gen has its own leadership team of leadership consisting of the following:
        • Pastor Nebiye Kellel: Youth Pastor in Dallas, Chair
        • Erome Daniel: Post doc Student, a bio chemist, Secretary
        • Helina Tibebe: Educator (ESL), New York, Member
        • Bikat Sahle: Psychologist, Member
        • Feyissa Muleta: Ph. D. Candidate on mission studies, Member
        • Hamrawit Tesfai: Social Worker, Member
        • Isaac Abraham, a banking expert, Member
        • Tibebe Eshete, Mentor and Advisor
      • BRIDGE has created a web-based newsletter under the rubric: It is mainly for the following purposes:
    • To initiate intergenerational conversations
    • To use the space as a teaching tool on important and concerning issues of Diaspora life
      • Last, but not least, BRIDGE has formed a prayer wing committed to lifting up its work before the Lord on a regular basis
  • The main focus of Bridge is the Next Generation
  • This is about legacy, which involves living intentionally and setting clear goals
  • Passing on to the next generation a lasting heritage with eternal values far more valuable than a temporal inheritance
  • Legacy is a matter of interconnection across time, with a need for those who have come before us and a responsibility to those who come after us, while celebrating and recalibrating what we have now
  • The imperative for BRIDGE choosing the subject of the next generation as a core of its ministry are the following:
    • It is a subject of supreme importance shared/embraced by all, given the current situations of the youth in the Diaspora
    • It serves as the focal point around which we can gather and mobilize the churches and their resources
    • Employing this avenue helps to meet the larger goal of bringing a sense of unity
    • It creates the opportunities of bringing the youth alongside the ministry of BRIDGE
    • BRIDGE has identified several gaps within the church and the believer’s community that are detrimental to advancing the Kingdom of God and hence seeks to find ways to address the gaps by joining hands with others
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