Honour and Friendship

Posted: February 18, 2017 in Chairman

Last December 13th was one of the most shocking and saddest moments of my life since the death of my own brother in Jaffna.  I could not believe when I received the call from the hospital that Pastor Chrysantha is gone.

I am sure it was a shock to all of you as we grieved together with Sirini and the family through those difficult times of sorrow. The morning after the funeral, as I woke up thinking of Chris (as I called him) the Lord asked me “do you know that Chrysantha still speaks?” Few days after his funeral, I had to take an 11 hour flight to Europe. And as I listened, and just as it is said of Abel: “…though he is dead, Yet He speaks” (Heb. 11:4), I wrote down 30 things that God spoke through Chris during that flight. I want to share one key aspect with you: “Chris was a Friend.”

Friendly or Friends?

I know that in the AG we are very ‘friendly’ with everyone; but we hardly have any friends! For some unknown reason, there is fear, suspicion, competition and jealousy among us which prevents us from developing intimate friendships. We are afraid to initiate friendships fearing betrayal! This is not the Culture of Honor. In such culture, ‘Friendships’ are vital for trust, respect, esteem and to honor others above ourselves.

Our Culture breeds social friendships that are dependent on ‘groups of friends’ with whom we love socializing, having fun, going on trips with etc. But sadly, when it comes to personal ‘one to one friendships’, we have none! Chris was not just a ‘party friend’, but he was different.

Just as Abraham was called a ‘Friend of God’, Chris was too a friend of God and many others.  Why? He was open, transparent and willing to be vulnerable, to be criticized, as well as being applauded, to be a friend. He did not cover up, put on something he was not. Chrysantha was what we saw, nothing hidden. I have referred to Chris many pastors and couples whom he counselled and brought them through. Therefore, many who spoke of Chrysantha said that, “He was a great friend”!

A Journey:

Friendship is not an event, it is a journey. It took many years to develop my friendship with Chris, and it did not happen accidently or naturally. At first, I was too busy with ministry and leadership responsibilities and had no time for friendships! Neither did I want to open myself personally to anyone else, because I found safety & solace in secrecy and isolation! I did not want to be vulnerable.

Although we met as Brothers in Christ and as Pastors’ and even as Ex Co Members, all these associations did not make us friends. But, Chris took time to visit me personally, and to come persistently all the way from Veliveriya and make these times happen. It was such an effort on his part that helped us to spend time alone in sharing our problems, struggles feelings, pains, and talks about our weaknesses and intimate matters. How valuable this friendship became in the later years of my life giving me strength and courage. 

What Chris is crying out to us today is: “Take time for friendship!”

Do You have a Friend?

Jesus told His Disciples, “I called you Friends” (John 15:15), because He developed a special intimate relationship with them. Jesus considered them valuable and He protected them through such a relationship and He also had an ‘inner’ group of Peter, James and John with whom He shared his intimate feelings and pain. He wanted them to be with Him in difficult moments like the Garden of Gethsemane.

If we are to make Jesus our model of leadership, then we must learn from this ‘inner group’ relationship to build intimate, trusting and transparent friendships.

David & Jonathan Friendship  

Since ministry is a public service, we are expected to be ‘friendly’ and open with all. However, we are not able to be ‘friends’ with everyone. It takes one or two special friends that will help us in our personal life and walk with God. Last week I was speaking to key Church Leaders in Nepal, and asked how many had close friends. Most of them did not have one!

David had Jonathan as a special ‘friend’. Although David was surrounded by mighty men, as a leader and King, he lacked a true friend after Jonathan died, which led him to adultery and murder. I believe that every Pastor must have a ‘friend’ or a small group of friends with whom they can share their lives for accountability, encouragement and protection.

Accountability Groups:

At the Prayer Camp in January I shared about this “Jonathan Group” and gave a handbook to start such groups. It is not compulsory but voluntary. I trust that this month you take the ‘initiative’ to begin a new journey of friendship by forming a small friendship & accountability group:

  • To have friends to share their lives with.
  • To protect themselves from the traps of the enemy.
  • To help develop their personal devotional lives and disciplines.
  • To model trust, accountability and intimacy which will help in their ministry and family.
A friend closer than a brother

Although we are familiar of being ‘brothers’ in Christ, yet, the Bible speaks about a deeper relationship in Proverbs 18:24: “But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother”.

In my journey of friendship with Chris, my last physical meeting with him was at his grave. I was standing, he was lying down; I was looking down, he was looking up; I was speaking, He was silent. I was shouting a sermon, but he was lying quietly. His silence spoke more loudly than all the sermons I ever heard. For, I knew, here lies a true friend, who has not betrayed my confidence and trust, and who would carry those secrets we shared together to his grave! (I am sure this is of many hundreds of people whom he counselled)

I pray that you will not be ‘too busy’ to not have a friend.

The Lord Bless you.

Pastor Michael

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