I’ve had better weeks. And I’ve had worse. God is good.

It has taken me a few days to get to a place where I can think of the death of Owoyesiga and say that God is good. The two statements seemed incompatible. But I’m there now.

The phone call to tell me that Owoyesiga had died was one of the most shocking I have ever received. Totally unexpected. I had seen him 2 days before and he was in fine fettle – and one of the strongest, fittest 44 year-olds I had ever met. Dead? He was one of two managers at the Passion for Jesus orchards and he was my kind of bloke – a man’s man. Dead? And whilst he had a faith it was a lot less structured than many of his colleagues and he wasn’t a regular churchgoer. Dead? I later found out that he had been suffering from significant heart palpitations at night but hadn’t sought help because he felt better every morning. Dead. Ouch.

One of the things that I do love and admire about Uganda is the community commitment at times of joy and sorrow. When I arrived at Owoyesiga’s house, less than an hour after I got the call, there were already more than a hundred people there supporting the family. Over the next 24 hours we all worked together to collect and transport firewood, J10:10 purchased a coffin, and the whole community started the massive catering operation for the burial. It’s a commitment to each other that you ONLY see amongst the poor – regardless of country. I am blessed and honoured to say that we will not be ending our support of Owoyesiga after the funeral but that his family will continue to receive monthly support from us until his children leave education. Because we are a corporation that takes our responsibilities to our workers and our Creator seriously.

On Tuesday we left the orchards unstaffed and unguarded because some things are more important than money and security. All of our staff from Passion for Jesus came together with Owoyesiga’s family and community – and representatives from Kigazi Community Nursery and the J10:10 House were there too with Hildah, my wife, and I. And we heard from Owoyesiga’s mother of a life that was tough and made him the man that he was. Owoyesiga left school at 14 because he felt he had to – in order to care for the nine younger siblings that had lost their father as he had. He worked hard and provided for them – and then built a permanent house. He couldn’t afford to concrete the floors, fit solar power or paint it – until Passion for Jesus gave him a job at our orchards and he finally completed his home which is now one of the best in the area. God working through us in more ways than we are aware of. We celebrated his life, mourned him and buried him there.

I learned that, like me, many had spoken to Owoyesiga about his faith and his Saviour. And that he fully admitted that, like many people, he was deferring unconditional commitment to Jesus but knew that he would make it eventually.

On Sunday morning, when the heart episode started, Owoyesiga phoned a friend and asked them to come and help him because he felt so ill. When the friend arrived he was dead. The generous God that took Owoyesiga home tells us that ‘All who call on the name of the Lord will be saved’. And I have absolute certainty that Owoyesiga called, and that God answered and that the man who worked so hard for his siblings, his children, his wife, our business and his workers is enjoying a perfect rest with the King that waited a lifetime to be invited fully into his heart. God is good.

Rest in peace Owoyesiga. Thank you for all you did for those who couldn’t do for themselves. You were a man amongst men. We will build a business that remembers you and cares for those you loved the most. In God’s strength.