Tributes to Norwich preacher who dedicated his life to helping others
- Credit: Pictures courtesy of Sunita Gillett
Tributes have been paid to a courageous Norwich Methodist preacher, who died suddenly after complications from a life-long condition.
Four years ago Colin Gillett, a local preacher in the Norwich Methodist circuit, upped sticks and moved from Norfolk to Lahore, in Pakistan, to work with orphans and street children.
He has been described as "giving up everything" before moving to follow God’s call to serve “the poorest of the poor”.
Mr Gillett travelled to Pakistan in August 2017 where he dedicated his life to those in need, as well as the brick kiln communities of the slum areas of Lahore.
He married Pakistani lawyer, Sunita Nayab, whose family were already supporting a local orphanage.
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The couple started work on their personal mission and opened a school for poor and orphaned children where quality, non-religious education is provided for free.
Mrs Gillett said: “Colin freed many brick kiln people from modern-day slavery, started a food bank 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.
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“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.
"As a husband, he was more than a family could ask for and I am lost without him.”
Mr Gillett had severe Crohn’s Disease - a life-long condition where parts of the digestive system become inflamed - which flared up again recently. This caused cardio-respiratory failure and he died on September 7.
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, also paid tribute. He said: "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, the couple helped feed and educate scores of street children and orphans in Lahore despite local opposition and Mr Gillett's health problems.
He 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".
Mrs Gillett added: "Many of you have reached out to us and have asked how you can help us during this time.
"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.”
Mrs Gillett is trying to raise £2,500 to cover the cost of repatriation of Mr Gillett's body to the UK. A fundraising page has been set up.
To donate, visit the Just Giving fundraising page at https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/colin-gillett-repatriation.
Funeral arrangements have yet to be made but a thanksgiving service will take place at Wroxham Road Methodist Church in Norwich. The details are to be confirmed.
*A version of this article first appeared on www.networknorfolk.co.uk.