As the afternoon June sun beat down, Tariku Fufa sunk to his knees and cried out to God.
After giving his life to Christ two years earlier at age 13, Tariku experienced severe persecution from his family. The Ethiopian also suffered from asthma and wasn't able to attend school, and eventually his father kicked him out of the house. In contrast to the bright, overhead sun, he felt only darkness.
Twelve years later, Tariku still remembers God's immediate, clear answer to his prayer. "I heard the Lord speaking to my heart saying, Tariku, you are not without help," he says. God then promised healing, that Tariku would graduate from high school and college, and eventually work in full-time Christian ministry.
God's promise gave Tariku hope.
One by one, God faithfully answered each prayer, and in 2002, after graduating from Jimma University, Tariku joined the staff of Cru.
As the campus coordinator for southwest Ethiopia, focusing on Jimma University's 18,000 students, 27-year-old Tariku helps students learn about the God who turned his life around.
He started with six students, and his group quickly grew to 25 and then to 238. For 18 months he led these students, broken up into eight groups, through a training curriculum focused on prayer, fasting, evangelism and leadership.
Many who graduated last year are now mentoring a new group of 250. "My ministry is now student-led," says Tariku. "I no longer take the driver's seat."
"Tariku is full of passion and believes God for the impossible," says Tracie Kifelew, who works with Tariku in Ethiopia.
And Tariku aims to never lose focus on the God who saved him. "When everyone hated me," says Tariku, "God loved me. When I was denied a place to sleep, food to eat and a school to go to, God was my refuge and provider."