Norwich preacher's life mission to Pakistan orphanage
Norwich Methodist local preacher Colin Gillett is upping sticks and travelling to the other side of the world to embark on a mission to an orphanage in Lahore, Pakistan. Here he tells how he reached this life-defining decision.
Several people within the Norwich Methodist Circuit knew of my connection with a poor community in Moldova, and how I worked to bring some comfort to it over a couple of years. What virtually nobody knew was that I also helped orphans and street children in Guatemala and Novi Sad, throughout most of 2016.
In the background, I had been aware of an orphanage in Lahore, which was being supported by a Pakistani Christian who worked as a dental surgeon. I had been aware of this for a couple of years, but it was only ever a vague awareness until January of 2017.
Since the well-commented events of my healing in 2013 from the debilitating Crohn’s disease, I have been very aware of a difference within. I couldn’t fully understand it and never really discussed it. Like a slow burning transformation, not just a healing which many have witnessed or read about. And maybe this is why…
Since April 2016 I had been very aware that God was going to call on me. That I wasn’t going to remain a Local Preacher. Much had happened to me in the last decade to know that I would be told what, at the right time – His time.
Near the end of 2016, suggestions about considering the Diaconate Order and Candidating were made. Neither initially hit the mark, but again I knew I had to wait and see. Then, in January of this year I received an email out of the blue about the Lahore orphanage. Just a general interest email, shortly followed by another one which added flesh to the skeletal structure. Initially, I considered them of interest and nothing more. (I was still weighing up the daunting prospect of God wanting me to go to college when I am close to 60 – how dare He!)
I soon realised that those emails were ever present, and I suspected that I was to have some involvement. Initially, I believed that maybe God was asking me to pull out of Moldova, and Guatemala and Novi Sad; and financially support this one project. Not just the orphanage, but One World Welfare Organisation – a charity set up by Sonia’s (the dentist) and Sunita’s (her sister) parents. A charity which encompasses this orphanage. But this didn’t sit right within. My gut feeling was – No. Neither, did it seem that I was to financially focus on just the orphanage. So, I waited for further guidance.
On February 18, I stopped eating my lunch, looked out of the window and asked aloud – You want me to go there, don’t you? A deafening YES thudded into my head. Still small voice of calm? I think not. So I just said – Yes, God, I will. After all, by the shedding of His blood He has given me far more than I can ever comprehend. Have I not now been invited to step out of the boat? I can’t walk on water without doing that. Do I not sing with gusto the last verse of When I Survey The Wondrous Cross – Love so amazing, so divine, demands my life, my soul, my all.
So, this is what I’ve been working towards ever since. It has been beset by various hiccups, but it was never meant to be easy. It’s the hard that makes it special. Up until three weeks ago, I wasn’t even sure where I would be staying. Now I know I will be living in the orphanage. I have to admit that on a walk of faith, I didn’t expect to become exhausted before getting beyond my front door! I am now linked with a Pastor who lives next door to the orphanage – it was he who wrote the letter of invitation. Through video link, I have also met his family of wife and 5 children. (On his advice, the children call me uncle.)
I am giving up my flat and my possessions, packing my clothes and setting off – a mission for life. Stepping out of the boat, not putting my toe in the water. I aim to set foot in Lahore on August 1.
I believe my call focus is the orphanage, but I do not know exactly what He wants me to do. I know I am to put it right, whatever ‘it’ is. I may also be more involved with Sunita on OWWO work – which predominantly focuses on orphans and street children in Youhanabad, Lahore – their accommodation, health and education. God will let me know at the right time.
The challenges will be many and varied. Every single facet of daily living will be different. I have been to Europe twice and New York once, in my life. I may as well be setting off for Uranus. Except I’m walking towards the fourth most dangerous country in the world for white Christians. Not my call, but His. There will be only two people close to me with a very good grasp of our language. That may prove to be the greatest challenge, but a mere bagatelle when Jesus is next to you. As I type these words, it is 48 degrees in Lahore. I can’t even imagine that heat. All, though, can and will be overcome.
My prayer, initially, is for the orphanage to become a beacon of light and hope to all in the community, and to fully utilise the small worship area upstairs. If, because of me, even one of those children feels safe, loved, and respected, then job done – all the more so if it is one of the girls for they will not know much respect throughout their lives.
I expect there to be a lot of hardship and tears, as well as laughter and fun. I do not rule out anything. The rewards will be beyond price. All of this needs a source of funding; or sources of funding. Any and all donations will be used under my guidance, most likely with Sunita’s support; and would be very warmly welcomed. She is very driven to realise her parents’ dream, but she admits she needs my older guiding hand.
Sunita and I have been working on the OWWO website. Not yet the polished article, but this will give you an idea of all I am likely to be involved with to some extent – www.oneworldwelfareorganization.weebly.com
Of course, all of the above may fall if their Government stop me. I could get no further than Lahore International Airport. All is in God’s hands.
If you would like to make a donation towards OWWO, or more specifically the running of the orphanage, please do contact me – firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll give you the bank account details. It will be a British bank account to which only I have access. Thank you.
I will end with 4 quotations. One from Ralph Waldo Emerson, one from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, one from Edward Everett Hale and one from John Wesley:
Do not go where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.
Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.
I am only one, but I am one. I can't do everything, but I can do something. The something I ought to do, I can do. And by the grace of God, I will.
Do not reach out to those that need you, but those who need you most.
PS – Diaconate Order, Presbyter or Lahore? Lahore, every time, without doubt.
Pictured top is Colin Gillett in Norwich and, above, Sunita and some of the Lahore orphans.
Read our previous story about Colin