Meet Henry. He’s a Harvard grad. He’s a father of two smart and handsome boys, they’re twins if you haven’t guessed already. He’s married to the love of his life, Yoon. Together they love on our tribe so richly with gracious hospitality.
What many may not know though is that he’s the first friend I remember having in “church”. When I was in 3rd grade or so my mom dragged me into her car and took me to church. There, I cried and whined about not wanting to step into what was to me a very intimidating place. There were tons of kids, friends already, laughing and singing joyous songs together. Happy to see each other after a long week apart. I ran off back into the car only to have my mom come back and get me during “small group class” time. She dragged me again and threw me into a Sunday school class full of 10 year olds. I sat quietly, afraid to be rejected, feeling completely out of place. I hid behind my watch, it was a game watch, an 80’s Casio game-watch. It was so cool, a precursor to the iPhone apps… ok maybe not, but it was cool. But I digress.
As I tried my best to hide behind my cool watch and act as if I wasn’t nervous, a kid at our table abruptly shouted, “hey, are those games on your watch?” And thus began our friendship. That was about 27 years ago.
Since then, Henry has seen the best and the worst sides of my life. If I were a book, he’s seen most of the editions and revisions… and most were not that great, especially the early editions, if you know what I’m saying.
We grew up in church together, mostly being obnoxious and sinful.
We now serve God together, at Ekko Church, as adults... as fathers.
It says a lot about a person when they can attend a church that their friend pastors, especially when they've seen the very worst versions of that person. I’m glad I’m surrounded by friends who let me become better “editions” of myself in the light of God’s ever alluring grace and the Church’s ever inviting and forming love.
Some measure success in ministry via numbers; buns on seats.
Some measure success in ministry via influence; podcasts and books.
But perhaps we should consider a different way to measure success.
Jesus changed the world by being a friend that sticks closer than a brother. (Prov 18: 24)
My friendship with Henry reminds me of God’s friendship with me… he loves me through and to all my “editions”.
May we seek to be good friends. May we seek to be like Jesus.
"What a friend I've found
Closer than a brother
I have felt your touch
More intimate than lovers
Jesus, friend forever
What a hope I've found
More faithful than a mother
It would break my heart
To ever lose each other
Jesus, friend forever
Oh, Jesus, yeah, Jesus
Jesus, friend forever"
- Delirious? / Martin Smith
The Adventure Continues,