Anglican Bishop Jwan Zhumbes of Bukuru, Nigeria, is an important man to the people of his diocese. More than simply a giver of sermons, he is spiritual father, leader, organizer, defender, provider, and giver of hope to a persecuted people. He is, in short, a great man.
A few years ago, it was my privilege to visit him as a part of my Around the World in 80 Days expedition. What an experience it was to be among Jwan and his family and the fine people of his diocese. Each day, I accompanied him and ministered beside him in often difficult circumstances. Since that time, we have kept in touch regularly. In times of difficulty, he was there to encourage, counsel, and simply be my friend.
On April 25th of this year, Jwan’s wife, Lois, passed away after a long illness. This was a great blow to the good bishop and to the people of his diocese as she was their spiritual mother. Shortly after Lois went to heaven, I received this text from Jwan:
“You did not owe us your time and presence, your sorrows, your sympathy, and tears, your resources in cash and kind, your talents and gifts, your risks in travels and several other demonstrations of love in a lump. But all of these and much more you generously doled out to us without holding back…. For this show of love, we owe you a never to be paid debt of gratitude.”
It is remarkable to me that even in such a difficult moment, the bishop found time to encourage others. But then again, it shouldn’t surprise me. Such are Nigeria’s Christians. Though suffering great persecution at the hands of the violent Muslim factions that enter the country to pillage, murder, rape, and destroy, they are a people who radiate the love of God and each other. We could learn a great deal from them.
I ask you to pray for the bishop and his flock. He is a man of grace. He will also be with us later this summer. Stay tuned.