A tribute to Bishop Elie Buconyori on the anniversary of his death

Wednesday of this week was the one-year memorial service for the founder/rector of Hope Africa University, Bishop Dr. Elie Alexander Buconyori, who died a year ago on East…er. A quadrangle of tents were set up around the grave site, on the grounds of the Ngagara Free Methodist Church adjacent to the campus. There were probably a thousand people present. His life is an easy one to celebrate because he was a truly great man–churchman, a man of prayer, educator, visionary, leader, linguist, internationalist, counselor to many, as well as husband, father, grandfather–and a longtime friend to many of us.

The US bishops sent a letter of greeting as did Dr. Wayne McCown, President of Friends of Hope Africa University. Bishop Onesphore Nzigo gave the meditation. The First Lady of the country attended, a gracious lady, a pastor, student at the University (in Theology), and a friend of the school and of the Buconyori family. I was honored to be asked by the family to speak on behalf of the university and as a friend. My thoughts went to this honored memory as of a man who was a truly ‘kingdom’ person as defined by Jesus in his charter of the kingdom in Luke 4, and how Bishop Elie’s vision is bearing fruit in the continued life of this institution called Hope, which, through its education and healing ministries, mirrors the elements of the kingdom–hope for the poor, healing, sight for the blind, restoration of life to those who would be effectively dead, the salt and light represented by our graduates, pouring leadership into the church, the gospel pervasively present in every part of the institution.

Marlene and I have been here in service nearly a year. I am in administration and know well a lot of the warts and imperfections. The truth is, however, that the more we am here, the more we see and know, the more excited we get over the kingdom impact of this remarkable tool for witness and good. I tell some of the visiting inspectors and officials from high circles in government, “We are not perfect; but we are very very good!” That is true educationally–multiplying teachers, theologians, doctors, nurses, engineers, technicians–and it is true in the kinds of graduates we turn out. I have received at least three reports of competitive exams for employment where our graduates almost embarrassingly dominated the top positions.

Well, you can see we are still fanatical missionaries, in love with what we are privileged to be part of, loved and supported by a host of African friends and colleagues who believe in the school as we do.

God bless.

-Gerald Bates