From Dropout to Developer
by Bill MacLeod
He grew up in Uganda unable to attend school because of financial hardship. Today, our friend, Dr. Michael Badriaki, is the program director of Lancaster Bible College’s Master of Arts in Ministry, but his story started on the African continent. Born in Kenya and raised in Uganda, Badriaki credits his parents as examples in overcoming adversity and suffering. If his name sounds familiar to you, it is because he has taught at George Fox University/Portland Seminary and guest taught at Multnomah University/Multnomah Biblical University, served with Medical Teams International, and he led an entire workshop track last year related to the book he authored, When Helping Works. He told us his unique story when we caught up with him recently, and we’re thrilled to welcome him back this year as a Plenary speaker at Mission ConneXion Northwest 2020!
Bill: When were you first aware of God working in your life? What age were you and what were the circumstances?
Michael: As far as I can recall, as a child growing up in Uganda, I became consciously aware of God when my parents and relatives invoked the name God as the divine being who is trust worthy, all knowing, all powerful in the ebb and flows of life. The ebb and flow of life itself continued for our family as we got sick, we got well, we found jobs, the jobs ended, we celebrated together, we grieved together. Dropping in and out of school was part of life, and education was very inconsistent. From a place of a lack of resources and unable to go to class, I was compelled by the New Testament to proclaim the good news of Jesus in our community out of no expectation of gain but in obedience to God alone.
B: What did the Lord use in your life primarily to call you into the ministry you lead now?
M: The Lord and His Holy Spirit used the bible (1 Corinthians 9: 16), numerous godly people who invested in my life in spiritual, relational, missional, financial and material ways. Particularly, God has used my wife, daughter, my parents, sibling and close friends. These people have prayed for me, loved, mentored and discipled me (1 Thessalonians 2:8). My mentors have also encouraged, supported, and counseled me to wisely explore all the ministry opportunities that have come my way. As an expression of my faith and my love of sharing about the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross, I would visit Makerere University in Kampala so often that people thought I was a student, even though I was a high school dropout. While of conveying the message of the gospel with university students, I met a man named Keith Thompson. Keith came to Uganda as a missionary to Uganda from the United States and served at my home Church. Keith and I got along very well, and we built a strong relationship. However, I never told Keith about my education need for the fear of being stigmatized further and primarily because God had given me a newly found joy with sharing the gospel at Makerere University. In a short time, Keith self-discovered my education situation and needs through his own inquiry. Eventually I had to tell him, “Actually I am a drop out. I want to go to school but I don’t have the money.” I remember the look on his face, he was devastated and he said, “Look, Michael, if there is anyone who has a bright future and is gifted, anyone who wants and deserves to go to school, it is you.” Two days after that he brought his missionary support money, enough for a year’s worth of school, and he said, “I cannot live with myself if I don’t give you this money, let me know if you need more and anything else.” This money was his missionary support money. He was giving and investing because of love for a friend, neighbor, and brother in the Lord. I love sharing the good news, participating in God’s mission as everyday spiritual disciplines because I find meaning and purpose in doing so. The Lord has also given me love for learning, education and teaching as a ministry. I love working with students, ministry leaders and practitioners which is what I am honored to do in my current job.
B: What has touched you the most about being “One in Christ Jesus” (from Gal 3:28) as you have grown in your walk with Him and carried out your ministry?
M: Galatians 3: 28 is a powerful and timely portion of scripture because it tells me that ONLY Christ’s love, forgiveness of my sin and His grace are the reason for outcomes of being “One in Christ Jesus”. Being “One in Christ Jesus” is not about my worth, but the beauty of “… Christ in me, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). Because Christ is in and Lord of my life, then I belong to Christ and other followers of Christ who are members of the body both locally and globally. (Galatians 3:29) The problem arises when people try to achieve oneness without the totalizing and holistically transforming power of the Jesus Christ’s finished work on the cross.
B: As you consider Paul’s words in 1 Cor. 12:12-27 about the “one-ness” of the Body of Christ, how do you see this truth playing out as you fulfill your ministry?
M: I see this truth at play in contexts where Christians faithfully and responsibly proclaim and enact the gospel instead of other ideologies. In my view, Paul set the stage by contextually starting the chapter with a clarion call and a clear focus on division in the body of Christ concerning spiritual gifts as a theological and spiritual warfare issue. Contextually, the lack of unity and oneness in the body of Christ is first and foremost a matter of spiritual war evidenced in idolatry. While addressing the apparent conflict over spirit gifts, Paul reminds his audience, “You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols.” (1 Cor. 12:2) Just like division over spiritual gifts, the lack of unity and diversity in the body of Christ is a spiritual warfare issue. Paul’s words are still pertinent for the church around the world today. What are the mute idols, pagan gods and unbiblical ideas we tend to rely on in our attempts to seek unity and oneness? It is sin that corrupts our inner desires, our decisions through which outcomes of divisions emerge in the body of Christ. (James 4:1) But the gospel in a believer’s soul is the solution that brings oneness “… because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16)
B: In John 10:30 the Bible speaks of Jesus being ONE with the Father, but in John 17:11, Jesus says that we should also be ONE with Them. When do you most experience oneness with the Father and Son, as you carry out your life and ministry?
M: Being one with Christ began the moment the Holy Spirit convicted me about my state as a sinner and when I received Christ as my personal Lord and Savior. From then onward, the Holy Spirit who is in me and Christ through the word of God, have caused me to abide in Christ. (John 15: 1-17) The trinity is fully involved in the life of a believer so that a Christian who is joined unto the Lord is one spirit (1 Cor. 6:17). Since I am reconciled to the Lord, I am also a participant in God’s mission and Christ’s saving life on a daily basis (Rom 5:10). I believe that my oneness in Christ is a reality in both the now and the not yet experience of the Kingdom of God.
B: What would you desire attendees at Mission ConneXion Northwest 2020 come away with as a result of your participation and expression?
M: My hope is that attendees at Mission ConneXion will be encouraged to know Christ and Him crucified. I believe that people will be encouraged to live meaningful lives because of the gospel.