Rev. Dr. Ayyoubawaga Bashara Gafour left this life on June 29, 2019 at the age of 74 years. The family and friends who were with him said that he was very peaceful, and those of us who knew him should not be surprised. We know that he did so much as a religious and cultural leader that he must have felt that his service was well done. As his friend and fellow religious leader, Pastor Heidi McGinness, said, “he was respected by the Christian, Jewish and civic communities in Denver. He mastered the attributes of love, joy, patience, kindness, faithfulness and self control.” Those traits made him the peacemaker and leader of the Sudanese diaspora in Colorado.
Here are the memories from the board of the Coalition:
Our volunteer work with Rev. Oja on the board of Coalition Against Global Genocide, gave us a glimpse of his hope and love for all people.
Former Chair, Tim Kubrick says, “Rev. Oja was the quiet conscience of our Board. When he raised his voice at our meetings, it was with gravity and care for those who could not. We must continue to do the same in his absence.”
“I always commended him on the stocking caps he wore. In the winter I’d tease him that it was to keep his head warm, and in the summer it was to keep his brain warm. Winter or summer, he’d always laugh! He was an extraordinarily kind, gentle, intelligent man.” –Regards, Peter Van Arsdale
Rev. Oja’s dedication to all people was never overshadowed by his own suffering. One time he told me his passport was taken by the government in Khartoum while he was studying divinity in Canada. He was literally a man without a country. We are all grateful that the government in Canada and later the United States allowed him to live and work to lead hundreds of people to be better human beings. Our work, his work, will continue, with his legacy inspiring us to never give up on peace and to bring hope to all people.
Roz Duman met Rev. Oja many years ago and knew immediately that this was a man who needed to serve on the CoAGG board. He was a quiet person, but when he gave his reports about his people at board meetings and wherever he spoke, there was not a sound in the room. Rev. Oja and I traveled to many places through the years to speak which gave me the opportunity to get to know this man better. He kept thanking me for helping his people through our Coalition. My response was always, “Oja, we keep working and it feels like we are never doing enough for your people since they are still suffering.” “Patience he would say to me–one has to have patience because we WILL one day see a change.” And then Oja gave me a book with a note signed by him called The Power of Patience by M.J. Ryan. I will cherish this book forever. Rev. Oja may not be with us physically, but he will be always be in our hearts as CoAGG keeps his work alive.
Rest in Peace my dear friend, I will never forget you and what you taught me and with the help of Gd, we will one day see the fruits of your labor—peace for your people and for all mankind.
Roz Duman. Founder/Executive Director
Linda Farb, Chair of CoAGG