Today we said goodbye to a great man. A man I called ‘grandpa’. Steve Powell was a great man because he embodied so simply, kindness, joy and LOVE.

I remember the first time I met him. It was Wednesday, 22nd July 1998 at London Heathrow Airport. He’d brought his entire family g to welcome my family and me to the UK. I was 14 years old.

Before this, his name had meant so much to my family and me- he had been the voice of hope at the end of the telephone. He’d rang shortly after the events of 1994 in Rwanda and had offered my family help to get out of the dangerous situation we were in; my dad declined the offer but was really grateful. Not many people were picking up their landlines and dialing internationally to offer help to a family they had never really met!

Later, when we’d finally fled our home, he’d rang several times but no answer had come. fearing the worst, he’d written a letter to my parents at our P.O Box in Rwanda in the hope that someone would pick up the mail and somehow get it to us. He’d enclosed a sum of £50 within it jut in case. Luckily, someone managed to collect the letters and knew where we’d headed. The money meant several months of food for us and the families around us who shared life in a refugee camp that spelled so much disaster for those with no outside help.

When he re-established contact with my dad in Congo, he’d set about helping us to get out of the terrible conditions of the refugee camp. He’d raised money through his large network of friends and we managed to get to Nairobi, Kenya, financing plane tickets for 6 children and 2 adults.

Once in Kenya, he’d kept in touch, and when it got unsafe there, too, he was there once again, this time in helping dad reach the UK to claim asylum. Once in the UK, they arranged help for dad including finding him a job and a place to live and connecting him with people who could offer advice regarding reuniting him with his family, now living in Swaziland.

For 4 years, Steve Powell was the voice of hope at the end of the telephone. His name was synonymous with love. He was patient, kind,humble, honoring, always protective, always trustworthy, always persevering. His heart of love moved others as well to the point of joining him in raising thousands of pounds for the family of a man he knew but whose faces they had never had the pleasure of meeting. For people who were so far away and and yet for whom he cared deeply anyway. Their plight became his plight. Their suffering his. And he was moved on their behalf enough to seek justice for them. And get them to a place they could call home. One woman and her six children. Too many people to help.

One day in 1998, this family- my family- finally flew to the UK and met Steve Powell. The man who had taken on so many challenges to get them here. He was no billionaire- he was just an ordinary man who loved much.  And he welcomed them home like family. And asked the children to call him ‘grandpa’.

“call me grandpa”, he’d said, on our first meeting at Heathrow Airport.

Today a reading of 1 Corinthians 13 was read so movingly by one of his grandsons. And then a song was played at the processional that went a bit like this:

Only the truth that in life we have spoken
Only the seed that in life we have sown
These shall pass onwards when we are forgotten
Only remembered for what we have done

For Steve Powell, what He has done is incomparable- what he has done, is choose to spend his life for others in love. And among the many, many good things that he has done is rescue my family and I from the pit of war. And he kept going until we were at home. Even then his kindness continued- we became grafted into his family. Until he was truly ‘grandpa’.

 He will always be remembered for what he has done.

 

1 Corinthians 13

13 If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

 

Fading away like the stars in the morning
Losing their light in the glorious sun
Thus would we pass from this earth and its toiling
Only remembered for what we have done

Only remembered only remembered
Only remembered for what we have done
Thus would we pass from this earth and its toiling
Only remembered for what we have done

Only the truth that in life we have spoken
Only the seed that in life we have sown
These shall pass onwards when we are forgotten
Only remembered for what we have done

Only remembered only remembered
Only remembered for what we have done
These shall pass onwards when we are forgotten
Only remembered for what we have done

Who’ll sing the anthem and who’ll tell the story
Will the line hold? Will it scatter and run?
Shall we at last be united in glory
Only remembered for what we have done

Only remembered only remembered
Only remembered for what we have done
Shall we at last be united in glory
Only remembered for what we have done
Only remembered for what we have done

 

 

 

 

 

 

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