Nathan’s life celebrated in thanksgiving

Nathan Asiimwe with his wife Annmarie, and daughters Grace, Hope and Joy.
Nathan Asiimwe with his wife Annmarie, and daughters Grace, Hope and Joy.

FOLLOWING the death of Shine FM founder Nathan Asiimwe, his wife Annmarie has paid a tribute to her beloved husband, and father of their three young daughters.

“After the Service of Thanksgiving for Nathan Asiimwe on 28 December 2011 at ‘An Cuan’ YWAM Ireland in Rostrevor, many people commented almost apologetically how much they ‘enjoyed it’! Funerals are so often very sad events and as Nathan was a man in his 50’s leaving a wife and three young daughters behind this would have been expected after his death. However Nathan’s number one motivation in life was to bring joy to the One who carried and encouraged him through life, and in death he would have wanted us all to rejoice that he is finally with Him, His faithful Saviour, Jesus.

“Nathan had a tough childhood in Uganda, his parents separated and he spend most of his years growing up moving from place to place herding other people’s cows. He experienced visions and encounters with Jesus that left him hungry to serve God with his all and lead others to know how much God loves them. Following the call of God he left his home and started sharing the gospel among nomadic groups, planting over 30 churches, at times on the run from Idi Amin’s army.

“Later he joined Youth With A Mission (YWAM) and came to Northern Ireland where he met and married his wife, Annmarie from Limerick. Together they pioneered Shine FM, which has just been granted a five-year extension of their community radio licence.

He broadcast regular programmes on radio in Uganda and through them has led 100’s to the Lord, often over the phone from his home. He also set up Voice Of Peace Internet radio which has regular listeners from all over the world.

“Everywhere Nathan went he looked for opportunities to share the gospel and encourage people in their walk with God. Even during his stay in hospital while he was struggling with his own battle with cancer he was constantly looking for ways to encourage others. Here’s an email sent from a doctor he met in hospital:

‘God Bless you Nathan! From the time I first met you,I felt my life change for the better. I know that Jesus has plans for me and will lead me forward. I love you for your gentle guidance and selflessness. What faith you have!’

“Many things at the Service of Thanksgiving had flavours of his wedding almost 15 years earlier! Key people involved in the wedding ceremony, Rev. Baden Stanley, David Maganda, Ros Oman and David Hines leading the worship were revisited. Some beautiful words were said by each of them, as well as Jonny Clark, Alan Jones, Linda Chapman and the main address from Clive Wilson. Africans from the International Christian fellowship sang some great songs and danced. The Ugandan honorary consul to Ireland also attended and danced! Annmarie, his wife, commented that ‘the dancing was perfectly fitting as Nathan is most likely dancing with Jesus right now!’ The closing song, ‘How great Thou art!’ was one that Nathan especially loved.

“The highlight for many was when Nathan’s eldest daughter, Grace (eight) eloquently read Psalm 27. Many people also were inspired and challenged by Annmarie, Nathan’s wife, who said a few words about what Nathan meant to her. Jonny Clark, leader of YWAM Ireland, said, “She gave an astonishingly clear, grace-filled and loving tribute to her husband...never heard anything like it before! Beautiful.’

“One comment received on a card afterwards which was echoed by so many, said, “I was keen to let you know that I found the service to be an amazing testimony of God’s goodness and love for us. I have only met Nathan on a few occasions but it was lovely to hear so many beautiful things about him; who he was and his heart for the Lord.

“Nathan’s only surviving sister, Florah, her husband Patrick, their children and his orphaned nieces, Ruth, Rachael and Anna, and nephew Katembe were unfortunately unable to be there but were joined by almost a thousand people at a celebration of his life in Uganda on the same day. The service of Thanksgiving in Rostrevor was recorded on video by Espirito Productions for them to see it at a later stage.

“The family would like to say a huge ‘Thank You!’ to everyone who has supported and encouraged them over the last few months during Nathan’s recent illness. Thanks to those who sent cards, gifts and donations; to Alan & Dee Jones who showed fantastic hospitality to Nathan during his illness, to Pastor Clive Wilson who was like a true brother to Nathan every step of the way; to Annmarie’s family who between them spent a lot of time away from their homes to be in Banbridge and help her with the family; to Pastor Stephen Mitchell and the members of Banbridge Elim who prepared refreshments for the Service of Thanksgiving and showed lots of practical love and support for the family along the way; to Youth With A Mission staff and students at ‘An Cuan’ in Rostrevor for doing an amazing job of hosting and welcoming guests to the Service; and to so many for their prayers and many, many ways they showed love to the family.

“Nathan was very talented in many ways.”

Donations are being sent to YWAM for Uganda missions c/o James Minnis & Son, Bann House 33 Castlewellan Road, Banbridge. BT32 4JQ. Family flowers were placed on the grave. James Minnis and Son were entrusted with the funeral arrangements.

Here is a poem Nathan wrote during his struggle with illness, which was published by the Ulster Cancer Foundation in a booklet called, ‘Emotions’:

A RAY OF HOPE

A ray of hope beamed into my heart.

It’s dark in here, So dark I cannot see my hands anymore.

It’s dark in here, I’ve lost hope of seeing light again.

Oh, how I long to see beauty again, The flowers and all their colours, The butterflies and all their colours, The mountains, the snow, the sunset, The smile on your face my beloved.

Beauty, Oh beauty, will I ever see you again.

When despair had tightened its grip on me, You walked into my life.

A ray of hope beamed into my heart.

Hope that I can see light again, Hope that I can see beauty in me, Hope that I can see beauty in you.

You brought faith into my heart, You brought hope into my heart, You brought love into my heart.

You beamed a ray of hope into my heart.

Thank You Lord!