I remember Brother Julius, popularly known as Bro J today. Everyone knew him in the church we attended many years ago. He was an encourager. If Bro J knew of someone with a need, he wouldn’t rest until he met it or until he got someone who could. He wasn’t a pastor, but most people thought he was.

He visited, he counselled, and he prayed for people. No one could miss church two weeks in a row without having Bro J visiting him. He was one smiling and energetic brother who was always cheerful and available. He didn’t seem to have a care in the world. As busy as he always was in helping people, I never heard him complain about anyone. I had seen him respond to the most abrasive insults with good natured jokes and sweet laughter.

I returned from a trip and noticed that Bro J wasn’t in church. I asked some of his ‘friends’ why, and they couldn’t give me a definite answer. One said maybe he had travelled to see his family, another said maybe he was busy doing something important. All I got were maybes, and more maybes from his ‘besties’. I asked some guys who had been helped by Bro J, and they couldn’t tell me anything useful. Even those in leadership couldn’t tell me anything important.

During the week break I got from work, I decided to look for Bro J. It took me two days to find his house. I was terribly shocked by what I found.

This gracious brother was living in the most inhospitable conditions. A boy showed me his room, the room he used to live in. Bro J had died four months earlier and none of his brethren were aware, not even those he helped. This gracious brother had fallen on hard times in the past eighteen months and had lost so much. This caused him to move to this terrible neighbourhood of gangs, to live in unsanitary conditions. He had been asthmatic, and both his trials and living conditions seemed to aggravate his ill health.

Brother J was sick, and was in his room for a week. He died in that room alone.

The boy that took me to his room told me that Bro J had sent him to one of the brothers in his church group at the height of his sickness. The brother replied him (the boy) that he would tell the others. My investigation revealed that he told a couple of people, and they all agreed to visit him sometime, but they never did.

His neighbours took his body to the morgue and did what they could to find his extended family members. Bro J had been quietly forgotten by the people he loved. I cried.

Whenever I sit down to recall Bro J’s memory, I always come to the conclusion that he was indeed a true leader in the church. In order to keep his memory and selfless sacrifice alive in the heart of many of his beneficiaries, I convinced the local church to donate some sums of money, which we paid to a team of sculptors to erect a model sculpture in honour of Bro J’s memory. From then on, I felt a great impact, an impact to live like Bro J. Indeed, Bro J has impacted my life through his selfless sacrifice.