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In Loving Memory of Berhanu - My Prayer Warrior, My Friend

There are those few people in life that you will never forget.  Those who touch your heart and leave you forever changed.  For me, Berhanu Bishaw was one of those people  and it is with great sadness that I received the news this week of his passing.  He will be dearly missed.  He was my prayer warrior, my friend… and his gift to me humbled me and encouraged me. On those days when I struggled, or things in my own life  seemed hard, I always knew on the other side of the world, Berhanu was praying for me.

Over the years I never once saw Berhanu in the streets of Korah…  due to his diminished health and vision he was always limited to the area in front of or inside of his one-room mud hut.  During our many home visits together he would always share his thoughts and opinions in such a way as to bring much laughter and many smiles to others.  Even through his cataracts, you could see a mischievous twinkle in his eye. He was a real

character, gentle and kind.   When he prayed - he was PASSIONATE!! Oh my,  he would cry out to God, hands stretched heavenward and bless us with such animation and vigour.  What joy filled my heart!  I always left smiling, until recently... over the last few visits as his energy and heart was struggling, my own heart became heavier, already grieving, knowing this dear, sweet friend would soon be leaving us. 

I will never forget these words that he repeatedly shared with me. I cannot tell you how often he told me; "Every day, I come out here and I sit on this log…. And I pray for you!  I pray every day for you - that God will bless you and your family !  I pray God, please give her strength, please give her long life!   I pray Heaven for you Eve!"  Berhanu did this for me…  every day for almost four years. 

It will always bring tears to my eyes, I don't get it? Why me? Why am I so lucky? Why am I so blessed to be known and loved and prayed for by Berhanu…  someone who has struggled and lived under such horrendous conditions… isn't it me, who should be praying so fervently for him?  He has suffered the pains of extreme poverty, the ravages of leprosy,  lives isolated in a little shack, in an urban slum, in the middle of a city of millions, yet is completely unknown and on the other side of the world.  How did I even come to know him and in such a way that he would feel led to serve me? To pray for me and with such faithfulness?  This is not something to be taken lightly, this is a treasured gift , one of the greatest God has given me and I am so thankful, so honoured to have known Berhanu.  I will always cherish his friendship and he will continue to encourage me and motivate me to follow close after God, to put one foot in front of the other, even when days are hard because I am certain I  now have a prayer warrior in Heaven that is standing in a crowd of witnesses, cheering me on to finish the race and to finish it well.  What more can I say?  I am blessed!

In the days ahead, please be praying for comfort, peace and renewed hope for Berhanu's precious wife Bosana, their three children and grandson.  Bosana was so committed to Berhanu, she sacrificially and lovingly cared for him, especially during this past year as he spent much of his time bed-ridden.  Never once did Bosana complain, even though she no longer could join the other women in our programs or be a part of activities and special celebrations.  She is an example of true beauty, she gave with such love, compassion, dignity and dedication.  When asked how she was doing, Bosana  repeatedly shared she was fine;  how she wanted to give back to her husband - he had been so good and had cared for her, keeping her safe throughout their 35 years of marriage, now it was her turn to care for him.  I have so much to learn from Bosana and Berhanu; a true testimony of strength, love and perseverance even in the midst of great trials. 

Berhanu - you were a loving husband, a good father and a committed friend.  We love you and you will be dearly missed!

With deep respect and much love,