Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News
January 28, 2018
Do you know my friend Jesus?
Harry Denman was one of the most unusual men I have ever known. His unique way of sharing his faith caused hundreds of people to become Christians. Though never ordained to preach, Harry became known as “Mr. Evangelism" among Methodists. His favorite question to strangers was this: “Do you know my friend Jesus?”
Here is one example of how he did it. Walking down the street one day Harry came upon a man high above his head working on a telephone pole. Harry called out to him: “Do you know my friend Jesus?” The lineman replied, “No, I don’t think so; does he live around here?” Harry responded, “If you will come down for a few minutes, I will tell you about him.”
Intrigued by Harry’s invitation, the man came down. Harry introduced himself, explained who Jesus was and soon invited the man to give his life to Jesus. Using this direct but simple approach, in ordinary situations, Harry introduced hundreds of people to his friend Jesus during his lifetime.
When Harry talked about his friend Jesus, you quickly realized that nothing was more important to Harry than his relationship with Jesus. He loved Jesus so much, and thought so much of him, that he wanted everyone to get to know him. Harry’s whole life was centered in loving Jesus and making him known.
The longer I live, the more convinced I am that inviting people to become friends with Jesus is the best kind of evangelism. The best thing we can offer people is Jesus. We fail miserably as friends of Jesus if we only get people “in” church. That is because Christianity at its best is not a “religion” but a transforming friendship with Jesus. The sad truth is, you can go to church all your life without becoming a friend of Jesus.
When he began his ministry Jesus called people of diverse backgrounds to become his disciples, to bond with him in a sacred friendship. It was a signal moment when, only days before his crucifixion, he told his disciples they were no longer servants but friends. He described this friendship as being so close that it was like branches connected to a living vine. And without that connection, there was no life.
Jesus explained that his disciples would prove they were truly his friends by loving one another and caring for those in need. They would bear fruit and make disciples.
I like thinking of Jesus as my friend, my best friend, a friend beyond compare. I love the old gospel song that says, “I have found a friend in Jesus. He’s everything to me. He’s the fairest of ten thousand to my soul.” But whenever I remember my friend Harry, it occurs to me that I need to be more intentional about joyfully introducing others to my friend Jesus because honestly, there is no more wonderful person anyone could ever meet. + + +