Revd. Dr. Gustavon Parajon
Gustavo speaking at Greenbelt 2011
We have received very sad news that our long time partner and close friend, Dr. Gustavo Parajon, passed away yesterday, Sunday 13 March.
He died at home early in the morning from a heart attack. The funeral and memorial service is being held at First Baptist Church, Managua on Tuesday 15 March at 2pm and a representative of Amos Trust will be present.
Garth Hewitt, Director of Amos Trust writes:
Gustavo has been a huge influence on so many of us. For me he was a friend, a mentor, an inspiration and an example. He was always great fun to be with and always someone to learn from. Our thoughts and prayers will be with his wife Joan, Marta his eldest daughter, son David and Becky, their partners and his grandchildren.
His quiet voice challenged us all. A man who opposed colonialism and oppression in his life and whose way of making us think was to make us ask. He was not only a Baptist minister with a commitment to liberating theology, he was one of a four person committee set up by the government of Nicaragua to bring peace and reconciliation at the end of the Sandinista/Contra conflict. He took myself, Amos staff and supporters to various parts of the country so that we could see the work of the Peace Commissioners.
As a medical doctor himself, Gustavo had set up CEPAD (Council of Churches Development Agency) in 1972 in response to the devastating Managua earthquake and later set up Provadenic, a health organisation providing healthcare through clinics in rural and inaccessible areas.
He witnessed for peace in the difficult times in Nicaragua through the days of the revolution which got rid of the dictator Somoza. Then as he tried to help the Christian constituency in the United States to understand the Sandinista Government, he was pilloried by the evangelical constituency at the prompting of President Reagan. It hurt him very much to find fellow Christians attacking him but he stayed firm to his commitment to truth and justice and his deep love of the Bible. Gustavo had a verse for every occasion and though this could be irritating in the wrong hands, with him it always seemed creative and prophetic. A Bible study with Gustavo was an adventure!
He was the most inquisitive man, interested in what was happening all round the world. He was fascinated to hear about Palestine/Israel and asked me to do seminars for clergy in Nicaragua on the subject. To travel with him was an on-going discussion whether talking about life in Nicaragua or theology or what was happening around the world or a mixture of it all.
Gustavo was always a gentle and unassuming man who influenced the influencers from well known political figures through to respected artists. President Jimmy Carter would always call him when he was in town to preach at his church. He influenced artists such as Kris Kristofferson and Bruce Cockburn. Bono came to Greenbelt in order to hear him speak.
Many of us first heard Gustavo at the Greenbelt Festival in 1987 at an event called Cabaret Nicaragua. He was such an inspiration that not many years later we were not only visiting but also asking that Amos Trust could become a partner with CEPAD. He was a regular speaker at Greenbelt over the years and he made a huge impact. Amos arranged for him to speak at Greenbelt once again last year, and we are so thrilled that we did so. To have him back with us was a reminder of the quiet wisdom and strength that we all valued so much.
Gustavo was the recipient of many awards for human rights, peacemaking and his work of relief and development. Admired by people not only in Latin America but also around the world. Such has been his model to me that if I have any image of Jesus, it is of someone who walks with a limp and speaks with a Nicaraguan accent looking strangely like Gustavo.
We salute you Gustavo and as is said in Africa ‘Hamba Kahle Tata Gustavo’
Go well Father Gustavo."
Tomorrow Tuesday 15 March we will be having a time of quiet to think of Gustavo in the lunch time service here at All Hallows-on-the-Wall, 83 London Wall, London EC2M 5ND from 1.10 pm-1.40 pm. All are welcome.
(A memorial service in London will be arranged for a later date. Details to be confirmed.)