Tribute to Nico Bougas who served the Lord to the end

David Melvill writes about the life of husband, father, Christian journalist and missionary to Greece, Nico Bougas, 80, who went to be with the Lord on Wednesday

Nico and Bee Bougas

When a spiritual giant such as Nico Bougas dies, we experience mixed feelings of rejoicing and sad loss. Nico has already been crowned with the words, “Well done my good and faithful servant.”

When we start pondering the contribution he made towards the Kingdom work our loss is so much more real and the empty space he has left behind is so much bigger.

Nico died in Florida, USA on the morning of February 10, in a manner that I imagine he would have wished for — quietly sitting in his chair and still very much involved in the ministry of his Lord. He spent the day before his death walking, praying, and attending meetings. He was in good health. The next day, like Enoch of old, “he was not.”

His contribution
On his last evening he had penned one of his last emails to his son, Jonty, in Cape Town, explaining and expressing how he had had a board meeting of the Hellenic ministries team in South Africa, exhorting them to keep raising their monthly financial support so that they could keep the ministry going, as well as asking Jonty to consider becoming a regular monthly supporter like he was to the ministry. This was his heart’s desire right up to the end of his life — to see the Greeks reached for Christ.

He had reached the age of 80, and like Caleb, he was still asking God for the “hill country”. He so wanted to do more for his Lord! Nico was the international coordinator of Hellenic Ministries, a mission to Greece and Greeks worldwide. He was actively serving as the ambassador for Hellenic Ministries “Christ for Greece and the Nations”, moving between Greece, South Africa and the USA. http://bougas.info/

His early years
Nico was born in Sea Point, Cape Town on July 8 1940.  As a teenager, he committed his life to Christ at a Youth for Christ rally, in Springs, Gauteng.  During his school years he attended Sea Point Boys High and Brakpan High School.

Kalk Bay Bible Institute (BI) Staff and students — 1965 graduation

His studies included the Institute for Administration and Commerce, the Bible Institute of SA, London Bible College, Trinity Theological Seminary, and Wheaton Graduate School.

Nico visiting students at the chapel at the Bible Institute in 2017

He married Bee 48 years ago on June 23 1972. She is from Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. They have four children: George (he was the lead singer in a band, he has gone to be with the Lord), Benjie (39, a banker in London), Jonty (37, a media director in Sea Point), and Tami (35, married, living in Bushnell, Florida, and expecting her first child). 

They have lived in Bradenton, Florida for the last 12 years.

His accomplishments
Nico spent many years as the editor of the YFC’s IN Magazine. Thereafter it developed into the comprehensive Christian Living TODAY magazine, a major evangelical Christian magazine in South Africa. He was also the literature director of Sports Outreach in Africa. 

Furthermore, he was the club and literature director for Youth for Christ.  In addition, he is the author of four books and hundreds of magazine articles and sports ministry booklets.

He was an interim pastor in churches in Aurora Illinois and Pinelands, Cape Town.

Nico and Bee in Athens, Greece

His lasting impact
When I asked Jonty how he would remember his dad, he said: “I will remember him as a most caring and loving man, he was always looking out for others.” He added: “He was hard- working, faithful and he never gave up. He had a peace and a joy, he never got upset or angry, he demonstrated so many of the fruits of the spirit. His approach was quiet, reserved and he had many wise nuggets to share.”

A vision tour of Greece, in Athens with Benjie, Jonty and Caroline

My encounters with Nico
My first encounter, as a teenager, was meeting Nico at a Youth For Christ rally in Cape Town. He passionately promoted the IN Magazine. It was my first subscription to a magazine. It was an exciting publication with good Christian articles and lots of jokes to keep you well entertained, just what a young teenager needed. 

On regular trips to Cape Town, he visited our mens’ prayer breakfast, ROTOP, Round Table of Prayer, as our guest speaker. He had a wonderful teaching ministry that was always inspiring and uplifting.

While in the States, his home in Pinelands, was used as a hospitality place for missionaries and those seeking affordable temporary lodgings. I remember once when he was back in Cape Town visiting, I attended a lunch time meeting where he hosted Peter Nicoll, the Operation Mobilisation international director. He had invited a big audience and generously provided lunch for all. Such was his endeavour to support missionaries and promote their efforts.

In the evenings he hosted many a meeting where he shared his burden for his forefathers to come to know Christ. Nico actively sought to raise people to join him overseas to do mission work of befriending the Greeks, handing out Bibles and tracts, such was his endeavour and passion to reach them for our Lord. 

I was privileged to be invited by Nico, then the editor of the Today magazine, to write a series of articles on the Christian’s approach to finance. This was a huge vote of confidence and an endorsement of me.

Many years later, I had the joy of being entrusted with the investing of his hard-earned savings, by investing them into Krugerrands for him. He was such a fine gentleman and it was an honour to be his advisor.

Jonty and Tami with Bee and Nico in Cape Town in 2015

His lasting legacy
Right up to the end of his life he was a prolific writer of articles for JOY! magazine. One of his finest achievements and legacies that he leaves behind, is his example of a beautiful marriage to Bee. 

Appropriately, his last article published was entitled, “Until death do us part.” https://www.joydigitalmag.com/everyday-life/till-death-us-part/

In it, he shares of his experience, how he understandably was cautious about getting married. “My own parents got divorced when I was about two years old.” He was determined not to make the same mistakes as his parents had, he says, Fortunately, God provided the ideal partner – someone who in many ways is opposite to me. She is vivacious, outgoing, warm, caring, and sociable – and fortunately for me, she can take a joke. That’s why she took me!”

Nico highlights one of their treasures was how Bee, a long time ago, decided to heed the advice of Paul, “Love will hardly even notice when others do wrong…will always believe in him, always expect the best of him, and always stand your ground in defending him”– 1 Cor.13: 5-7.

He adds: “But the quality that means the most to me is that she is an encourager. She tries to find the positive side of me. And her support means more to me than anyone else’s because she knows me better than anyone.” Nico graciously concludes: “An affirming, supportive, and encouraging partner can turn a nobody into a somebody.” 

Nico and Bee enjoying a board game

13 Comments

  1. Nico was always a servant. I first got involved with him in 1972 urging the hippy revival when IN magazine was a great source of material. I retained contact through Helenic ministries, although at a bit of a distance. Nico and Bee were a true example of Christian service at it’s best. His wacky sense of humor and spiritual input (weekly blog) will be sorely missed. Well done, good and faithful servant.

  2. Victor Symons

    Brilliant Tribute to the Legacy of Nico Bougas. Nico had an effervescent Joy of The LORD which was his Strength. His Enthusiasm for the Work of The Kingdom of Heaven was infectious.
    Heaven is Richer today.
    May Nico’s Legacy of Dreams, Visions and Labour Live On in his Heirs and in his ministry.
    Well Written Article Mr David Melville.
    Thanks for Sharing your insight with Us.
    Kind Regards.
    Victor Symons

  3. Anthony Barkhuizen

    A true gentleman, and a loving friend; now rejoicing with Jesus!

    thanks you David – this is a wonderful tribute!

  4. Truly an amazing servant of our King! He is safely home!

  5. RORY WILLIAMS

    A wonderful and fitting tribute David for a giant of the faith as well as a timely reminder that the Lord could call any one us at any moment. I guess the question we need to ask our self is are we ready to give an account of our life to the Lord or will we hang our head in shame ……

    Rest in Peace Brother Nico and thank you for your example, encouragement and faithfulness over all these years. I will miss your insightful articles.

    God bless

  6. I fondly remember the YFC meetings as a teenager in the late 60’s in Cape Town and at various venues in the Cape.
    We used to tease him mercilessly and he would always respond with a huge smile and some witty remark. :)
    His joyous witness stays with me. Ah Nico thank you so much for your stand for the Lord.

  7. What a fine man and sports enthusiast too, contributing to sports ministry in South Africa over the years – the thousands of lives you impacted, unbeknown to them because of it – His Football League amongst others. You will be sorely missed Nic.

  8. Ernie du plooy

    l went Nico on a preaching mission to Greece and Crete. He was a great encourager and friend and the first church l had pastored was also in Pinelands after graduating from the same seminary as Nico did in the late seventies ie biec. Nico was an example to us all about true leadership and to have a passion for the unconverted. well done dear friend. Ernie

  9. Craig Hounsom

    Nico Bougas was a name known to us as later BI(SA), students. YFC etc. My brother-in-law is Greek, and the mission to the Hellenic community touched a chord in my heart. As Christians we are debtors to the Greek nation and language. Romans 1v14. Nico preached for us at the mother church, and in KZN. He wore grace & a childlike hunger for Jesus to be known to Greek & South Africa. He gave me the most encouaging comments i personally have received. Our sympathies to Bee and family. Thank you David M for a beautiful tribute. Good to see my fellow student Ernie’s name. God bless Nico’s vision & legacy. Xxxx

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