*/ Tribute to a Missionary: Evangelist Yohanna D. Biliyock (1951 - 2016)

 

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Tribute to a Missionary: Evangelist Yohanna D. Biliyock (1951 - 2016) Featured

04 Dec 2016
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“In 1977 when my beloved brother and friend, Pastor James Pierce, first visited us in Nigeria, I took him on tour of some of our churches in the remote islands of Rivers State. A number of times as we travelled he would ask me, 'Geoffrey, how did you discover this place?' those were the pioneering days of our work in Nigeria. Now out there in the remote mountain villages of Uganda, I was forced to ask Evangelist Biliyock virtually the same question 'Biliyock, how did you discover these areas?'" – Apostle Numbere (2001)

This was Apostle Numbere’s testimony of Evangelist Yohanna Biliyock, a missionary, who loved God passionately. He joined the Ministry of Greater Evangelism World Crusade in the 1970’s while a Police Officer in Rivers State. He later became the State Minister of Kaduna Church from where he was posted as one of the pioneer ministers to Uganda. His last posting was as a Regional Minister to Benin Republic

In honour, we will review his work in Uganda (Culled from A Man and A Vision by Pastor Nonyem Numbere and Living Testimonies Vol2, No 2)


Uganda is a mountainous country and its villages lie hidden, tucked away up the rocks and mountains. There are no roads, only footpaths and the villages are far away from one another. Evangelist Biliyock was able to break through to the jungles of Uganda. Trekking very long distances to reach these people with the gospel, he covered distances of more than 300km at a stretch, not on flat ground but through mountains, values, thick forests in danger of being attacked by wild animals.

Apostle Numbere visited Uganda in 2000 and together with Evangelist Biliyock visited these villages. He found the people in abject poverty, living in mud and thatch huts, neglected by both the Church and the civilized world. They did not even have common white salt: what they had as salt was very brown. There were no hospitals, pharmacies, dispensaries or medical stores and so when they were sick they depended only on God; for even the smallest of injuries could easily turn into festering wounds. They had no kerosene (paraffin) or gas lamps so the night fellowships were held in almost total darkness. All they had were small oil lamps similar to what Nigerians call “Biafra lamp”.

‘Bathroom’ was merely an enclosed space over bare ground but because he was an important guest they cut plantain leaves and placed on the “bathroom” floor for him. In one of the places when he saw the water they gave him to bath with, he shrunk back, “Jesus!” he exclaimed. As dirty as Apostle Numbere was from the mud and the dust that got on him as he travelled, his body was cleaner than the water! For a moment he was like Peter in the vision of the animals when he said, “Lord, I have never eaten anything common or unclean.” Then the Holy Spirit spoke to him, “But this is what these people have been living on”. That was enough chiding for him. He said, “Lord, thank You”. He then had a full bath, pouring the water all over him, from his head down to his very toes. The soap could not foam but he did not mind any longer. As he was bathing, he said to himself “If my son, Biliyock, has been bathing and taking this all this while, why won’t I take it?”

Another church he visited was that of Kyemengo (pronounced, che-mengo). The village is situated deep in the Ugandan jungle without any tracks leading to it. Mohozi, a convert from that village, donated six acres of land to the Ministry and as there was no money to build even a grass hut, he constructed a shed by tying a disused United Nations tarpaulin sheet across some trees for a place of worship. Apostle Numbere called the shed church, “The Church In The Forest”.

Biliyock poured out his soul for these people. All that he received, he gave to them – shoes, clothes, money and victuals. He preferred to remain without these bare necessities to seeing the people in need. Whenever he went, he would stay with them, ministering to them, days on end. An old woman testified that Biliyock had shown so much love to her that that she said “Is this real? I thought that God is a “musungu” (white man), I did not know that God could be black. Now I have seen a black God.” Another question Apostle Numbere asked Biliyock was “how do you communicate with the villagers?” He soon found out. God opened his understanding to understand their various dialects.

The Ugandan mission took giant strides. Evang. Biliyock and his team laboured tirelessly and we now have thirty eight Churches in Uganda, most of them located in the villages.  He also extended to neighboring countries of Burundi, Rwanda, Kenya and Congo.

Evangelist Biliyock was called home to be with the Lord November 20th, 2016 and is survived by a wife, five children and 3 grandchildren.

“Great great man, unknown but strong. He has no degrees, he has no titles, but he is loved by both the church and the world. Seeing Biliyock and his labors brought to mind the words of Longfellow, ‘Lives of great men all remind us; they make their lives sublime, and in departing leave their footprints in the sands of time.’” – Apostle G. D. Numbere (Living Testimonies Vol 2, No. 2 2001)

"And I heard a voice from heaven, saying, "Write, 'Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on!'" "Yes," says the Spirit, "so that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow with them." (Revelation 14:13)

Adieu!

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