Norwich preacher pays ultimate price for mission
Tributes have been paid to a courageous Norwich Methodist preacher, who gave up everything and moved to Pakistan to follow God’s call to serve “the poorest of the poor”, and who has died suddenly. Keith Morris reports.
Four years ago Colin Gillett, a local preacher in the Norwich Methodist Circuit, upped sticks and moved from Norfolk to Lahore in Pakistan on a mission for life to work with orphans and street children.
Colin travelled to Pakistan in August 2017 where he dedicated his life to the poor, street children, orphans and the brick kiln communities of the slum areas of Lahore.
He married Christian Pakistani lawyer, Sunita Nayab, whose family were already supporting a local orphanage, and the couple started work on their personal mission. They opened a school for poor and orphaned children where high quality, non-religious education is provided for free.
Sunita said: “Colin freed many brick kiln people from modern-day slavery, started a foodbank for poor and brick kiln communities and a shelter and food programme for strays or homeless dogs under the umbrella of One World Welfare Organisation (OWWM). He did lots of good deeds and the children and people loved him.”
Colin suffered long-term from the debilitating Crohn’s Disease which flared up again recently and caused him to pass away from cardio-respiratory failure on September 7.
“Colin was a wonderful husband, friend, teacher and, above all, a wonderful human who touched the lives of those around him and many other people as well,” said Sunita. “As a husband he was more than a family could ask for and I am lost without him.”
Norwich Methodist minister, Rev Sharon Willimott, said: “As a long-standing friend and fellow Methodist preacher, I admired Colin’s response to the call of God in his life to devote his time and energy to the poorest of the poor. He knew it would be a costly call and in the end he paid the ultimate price for it.”
Norwich Methodist minister, Rev Nigel Fox, paid tribute, saying: "Colin has always been an inspiration. From our first conversation, when he told me of his call to preach and I was able to lead him in a prayer of commitment to Jesus, then through his baptism and his early work with Foodbank and in training to become a Local Preacher - all the while battling with acute pain of long-term Crohn's disease, he inspired.
“In all his preaching, he inspired. In his determination to follow a call to serve with orphans in Lahore, and through resilience to the numerous challenges and struggles of Christian ministry there, he inspired. The sadness we share as a result of his death only seals that deep inspiration, something which will never diminish."
Over the past four years, Colin and Sunita have helped feed and educate scores of street children and orphans in Lahore despite local opposition and Colin’s health problems. Colin wrote a regular email to supporters in the UK in which he gave a no-holds-barred view of life in Pakistan, and which he told with a very dry sense of humour and self-deprecation.
Funeral arrangements have yet to be made but a thanksgiving service for Colin will take place at Wroxham Road Methodist Church in Norwich, details to be confirmed.
Sunita is trying to raise £2,500 to cover the cost of repatriation of Colin’s body to the UK.
“Many of you have reached out to us and have asked how you can help us during this time,” said Sunita. “We really want to honour Colin's wishes and plan the celebration of life that he expressed wanting before he passed away. If you are able to and comfortable doing so, we would really appreciate any donation, big or small, towards his celebration of life.”
To donate, visit the fund-raising page.
Find out more about OWWO here.
Read our previous article about Colin.
Pictured above are Colin and Sunita Gillett. Pictures courtesy of Sunita Gillett.