TRIBUTE TO EVANGELIST YOHANNA D. BILIYOCK REGIONAL MINISTER, EAST AFRICA & NATIONAL MINISTER, BENIN REPUBLIC, GREATER EVANGELISM WORLD CRUSADE (GEWC)
Gallant soldier of Christ, you fought the good fight, you ran the race to the end and finished it gloriously. Your zeal was unequalled. You bought into the Vision that God gave to Apostle G. D. Numbere, your spiritual father and you ran with it. I have seen none other who bought into that Vision like you did. I have seen none other outside Apostle Numbere who loved the Vision, and the Ministry of Greater Evangelism World Crusade like you did. Your love for him and us, his family was unequalled. You so loved Apostle Numbere that you did not allow your children to call you “Daddy” because that was what you called Apostle Numbere. You told them to call you “Papa” instead. You made them understand that as far as you were concerned, Apostle Numbere was your Daddy and theirs too.
Your loyalty was unquestionable. During the 1984 rebellion of senior ministers and notable elders of the Ministry, you refused to join them in the face of their threats on your life and despite the fact that they were very much your seniors by rank. You never rejected postings or played truant, not even when you were sent to the hardy land of Uganda did you refuse. You became an object of mockery among some of your fellow Ministers. “It’s only Biliyock that would agree to go to a place like Uganda and suffer. We are not Biliyock”, they mocked but you were not bothered. You turned your back on the world to climb the mountains, and trek the forests of Uganda to reach the poor forgotten and neglected people of the land. You literally burnt out your life for them. I was privileged to go to some of those areas with you and I saw your selflessness in your service to God.
I came to know you and your wife in the mid 1970’s when you were in the Nigerian Police Force through the family of Ellis and Ann Jaja whom I lived with for the major part of my housemanship at the General Hospital, Port Harcourt. You were living at Police Baracks, Borokiri and a member of our Borokiri Fellowship (as it was called then). In line with the brotherly love for which Greater Evangelism was known then, you and your wife were frequent visitors to the Jajas. You were very young then and you had only one daughter, Esther (of blessed memory), who was just a few months old. The call of God was so strong on you that you believed Jesus Christ was coming very soon and that you needed to go into full time service at once. Nothing in the world interested you then, no not even having a family. There was no day you came to visit the Jajas that you did not express that burden. You were so impatient to serve God that several times you went to Apostle Numbere to enlist for full time service but he told you to wait that it was not yet time. You even refused to increase your family because as far as you were concerned, Christ’s return was imminent. After some years, somehow (I do not know how), you could be convinced that you should have more children that there was still time and God enlarged your coast and gave you five more children.
Years later, you came to live in the Base and we became prayer partners and spent long nights tarrying in prayer and fasting with either your wife or your cousin joining us. I can never forget the spiritual battles we fought and the victories followed subsequently. Wherever you were posted as a policeman, the anointing of God was evident in your life. The Lord used you to bring many souls to Him and perform miracles in His Name. For example, when you were in Brass your impact was felt not just in Brass but its neighbouring communities. The anointing was such that God used you to raise a dead man to life and caused many to acknowledge Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour.
Eventually you were appointed an Associate Minister to pastor Mile 3 Church until when you came in for full time service and was sent first to man our Kaduna Church and in 1994 to Uganda. Life for you as a full time Minister in GEWC was rough and rugged but you took everything in your strides and faced challenges that came your way with seeming ease. You laboured so much in Uganda, that Ugandan government noticed your works and gave you a certificate of recommendation.
Everywhere you went, you left indelible marks on the work of the Ministry of Jesus Christ. You were self-effacing, self-sacrificing, honest, always cheerful and very humble, almost to a fault. You were a man of integrity. Throughout your service in GEWC, you always said that the anointing on you was what you received from your spiritual father and mentor, Apostle G.D. Numbere and so no matter the mighty works God did through your hands, you never for once thought of bolting out to found your own Ministry. You did not fall into temptation to have the "grand" title of "G.O."(General Overseer).
When you were sent to Christ for the Nations Bible College in Dallas, Texas, you studied there for two years and also left your marks there. By the time Apostle Numbere and I came to visit you, there was no one there, both staff and students, that had not heard about Apostle Numbere and Greater Evangelism World Crusade. It was all because of you and the light that shone through you on Campus. You arranged for Apostle Numbere to minister to your fellow students and great was the impact of his sermons on those would-be missionaries.
Virtually all the Ministers that the Ministry sent before you to train in United Kingdom or United States of America did not return to Greater Evangelism World Crusade. But with you, it was a different case. You passed out in flying colours and returned armed with academic excellence but still with the same zealous, humble and effervescent spirit. You went back straight to the mission field of Uganda.
In July 2014, the Lord called home Pastor Augustin Agbogbo, who was in charge of GEWC, Benin Republic and other Francophone countries at a young age of 37. The brethren there were thrown into much sorrow and confusion. Your spiritual father, Apostle Numbere, called you out from Uganda to Benin to take over the work there and to help the Church tide over for two years. Nobody, not even the Apostle realized he was speaking prophetically. You did not argue, you simply said, “Yes, Daddy” and packed down to Benin Republic to pick up the challenge. You were there for two years and then visited Uganda in July 2016 not knowing it would be a final farewell to Uganda. Exactly two years in Benin Republic, you took ill and went home to eternity. When the end came, everything happened so fast it was like a dream but it was reality.
I lament, for, “Who will climb the mountains or trek through the forests of Uganda with the gospel? Who would go and drink and bathe their dirty water because of Christ?" But I submit to the will of the Almighty for He is sovereign. He Who had delivered you several times from death had decreed it was time to go home.
Your labours in the mission fields were extra ordinary, your sheer physical strength and energy was extra ordinary; that God's Hand was upon your life was unquestionable. You took the gospel to a people whom neither the Church nor their government knew existed. You drank and bathed their muddy water; you ate their local food no matter how bland it was; you learned their language so you could communicate more freely with them; you slept on the floor in their mud and grass huts, exposed to bugs, mosquitoes and dangerous reptiles; you constructed roads where there were none, and you carried building blocks on your head to climb mountains where vehicles could not go, all in order to reach Ugandans with the gospel. Your labours were extraordinary; your strength beyond mere human capacity, it was divine.
Your passion for souls was such that you were not content with being in Uganda. You forayed into the neighbouring countries of Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Your last trip to Tanzania (2013/2014) nearly cost your life in terrible road traffic accident. In Burundi God used you so mightily in the refugee camps that parents of babies that were born after your visit, named them "Biliyock" after you, I pray that those little Biliyocks will turn out to be like you - willing vessels in the Hands of Master, Jesus.
A true soldier of Christ, an unsung hero by the world, your watch is over and you have joined the saints triumphant. Even on your death bed, you were with smiles and to the surprise of everyone, talking about your upcoming programmes in Uganda and Benin Republic, how you intended to carry them out as soon as you were discharged from hospital. Your faith was strong and your spirits high that you would come out of your affliction. You were not in pains even from the surgical wounds you had and it was glorious to observe you. However, I knew that despite your optimism, your time was up not from the medical prognosis but from the testimony of your daughter Evangeline that while she was praying for you for a successful surgery, she saw in a vision, many angels in attendance in the theatre. I knew that the angels had come to take you home and I shared this with others.
Though we miss you here, all of us that knew you, know that you have gone home for a deserved eternal rest.
Adieu, thou faithful servant of God. We shall meet again at the feet of Jesus.
Pastor (Dr.) Nonyem E. Numbere
President, Greater Evangelism Women Fellowship International