A Life of
and Spiritual –
From his years teaching high school physics in Ethiopia to earning a mass communications degree in America, Samuel Taye’s life has been defined by a love of education. Along the way, he learned to speak multiple languages, including Norwegian.
“My mother only completed the first grade, but she understood the advantage of education and encouraged me,” said Taye, whose job in final assembly at the Decostar Industries plant in Carrollton, Georgia, includes operating a robot. “I’ve always been open to learning new things.”
Taye grew up on a coffee plantation in Bodji Chekorsa in western Ethiopia. His family is Oromo, the largest ethnic group in Ethiopia. American missionaries, who opened schools and clinics in the area, influenced Taye’s early education.
After teaching physics for six years, Taye sought a better life in neighboring Kenya, where he made a dramatic career shift, producing radio programs in the Oromo language for an evangelical Christian broadcasting company. As a refugee seeking asylum, his journey took him to Norway, and then to America, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in communications from the Moody Bible Institute of Chicago.
After being ordained as a Lutheran minister, Taye founded the non-denominational Oromo Evangelical Church of Atlanta in 1998. Today, he ministers as a prayer partner at the Chapelhill Assemblies of God in Douglasville, Georgia, and runs a bible study on Zoom in his native language every Friday.
His personal story is well known within the Magna plant, and while he preaches only during his off-hours, his co-workers often turn to him for support.
"MY message is
Taye said. “People have issues. They have needs. We must extend our hands and be nice to others. It’s as simple as giving someone an encouraging word, something I try to do every day.”
Early Lessons in Goodwill
The time spent with his grandmother Lillie Searcy, who ran the Stewpot soup kitchen for the homeless in Natchez, Mississippi, laid the foundation for Joseph Bell’s work as the employee advocate for Decostar Industries.
“I was seven when I started volunteering at the soup kitchen,” recalled Bell, who joined the Magna plant in Carrollton, Georgia in 2010 as a line inspector. “My grandma was the rock of the family, and she taught me a lot about treating people right, just by watching her interact with others.”
Respect for others and learning to have a “listening ear” were further honed by Bell’s experience as a youth minister at New Hope Missionary Baptist Church in Natchez, where he gave his first sermon at age 14.
Those early lessons are bolstered at Magna by what Bell says are “plenty of avenues to encourage fair treatment and care for fellow employees,” especially the Employee’s Charter.
“Today, my job is about helping people through their daily ins and outs, and bringing a lot of understanding to the workplace,” he added. “Even when I was a team leader, I would say, ‘I’m your boss, but I’m also your mentor. You can talk to me about your personal life and we will deal with issues together.’ ”
Lillie Mae Gaylor Searcy, Joseph's grandmother (right) with her friend Lilian Noble