People all over the world find joy in pursuing their passions. Peter, growing up in England, loved cricket. He got a lot of enjoyment out of watching the game and even developed a little skill in bowling. He was never going to step up to the wicket for his county (Somerset) or country though. But Peter didn’t need to be a sporting star for his life to be significant.
Of course, like the rest of us, there were other little things which held his interest and coloured his days with more than just the mundane. He enjoyed watching other sports, listening to classical music and playing chess, but there was something greater… Peter had another passion. He had a deep longing to do the things he believed God had set out for him to do: to make a difference in the lives of people – specifically people in Africa.
After completing his O levels and A levels, Peter worked for a year as a bank clerk. Then followed a short stint as a teacher before he attended university in Bristol. As soon as he was done there, he was waving to his younger siblings on the dockside in Tilbury as he boarded a ship to Uganda.
Peter’s next 30 years were poured out into building and equipping young people as he taught at educational institutions in Uganda, Malawi, Kenya and Lesotho (and back in the UK for one year). Africa, his sister Sue tells us, was in his heart.
Even when Peter returned to the UK to help take care of his widowed mother who was suffering from Parkinson’s disease, he continued to find ways to serve both the God and the continent that he loved.
‘His love of Africa is reflected in his dedication to working with Tearfund,’ Sue tells us. ‘For many years, once he was back in the UK, he visited schools and churches on behalf of Tearfund, and he also ran a local prayer group for Tearfund. I believe he also visited some Tearfund projects in Africa.’
Peter was a person who made a difference. His life made other lives better.
He told his sister that he felt he had been useful and done the Lord's work.
Sue remembers seeing Peter the day before he died and being struck by the very first words he said to her on that day: ‘I'm finished,’ he said. Sue says, for her, it made her think of someone else who, in his dying moments, had said something similar.
When Jesus said ‘It is finished’, he wasn’t finished, but the work prepared for him to do on earth, before his death, was done. Peter obviously wasn’t Jesus, but he was following his saviour. He was content in feeling that he too had played the part he had been created for – that he had followed Jesus in loving people and making the particular difference God had designed uniquely for him, Peter Jeremy Hills, to make.
And Peter’s not stopped making a difference yet. People all around the world, including in his beloved Africa, are still benefiting in the most practical ways from the love of Jesus shared by Peter. Through the financial gift he left to Tearfund in his will, Peter is still part of work that gives hope, brings life, and transforms the futures of others.
Lives uplifted. Potential fulfilled. Futures transformed. Peter’s legacy is bringing life still.