Everyday Christian: Why I'm still thinking about what you said to me last weekend

Hi David.*

How’s it going? Remember me? It’s Ben! You know, we met last Saturday at your granddaughter’s fourth birthday party. I was the guy juggling half-finished juice boxes.

My own daughters came away raving about the party – best party ever, apparently. Turns out fairy bread, musical statues and fine company goes a long way.

I also had a great time. Not just because I ate cake before lunchtime, but the conversation we had is still pleasantly humming around my mind.

For a bloke I had only just met under the shady trees near one of those urban playgrounds which manufactures nature as a hipster photo backdrop, we got along really well, don’t you think? As a journalist, I’m used to being able to hold a conversation with people. Particularly if they find it hard to ask questions – or don’t seem keen to do so, as that would derail talking about themselves. Ahem.

You were good enough to ask questions of me, though, and you displayed genuine interest in whatever I was going on about. That was heartening, but that’s not not the bit which sticks with me most. What I really enjoyed was meeting a stranger who is an older brother in Christ, and the instant connection, concern and celebration intrinsic to that relationship.

Apologies, but I do have a terrible memory, so I can’t recall all that you shared with me about your IT work history, that went alongside involvement in local churches, and being passionate about helping people better understand the Bible. I do remember the bit about how you spent (about) ten years in Mongolia teaching at a Bible College, as well as the evident anguish you feel about ongoing revelations about Ravi Zacharias – a Christian leader and apologist whose writings and talks you had benefitted from.

Oh, and you mentioned how you are in a casual-but-intentional mentoring friendship with a bloke younger than you, as you help each other grow in faith. I was very struck by that. As the book of Proverbs promises, iron sharpens iron – and I clearly got from you a lifelong desire to do just that.

You are modestly yet deliberately the sort of bloke who support others in their Christian journey, just as you expect and hope for others to do the same for you.

Seeing some of your adult children at the party, with their families, I got to thinking how I hoped I would be in your shoes in a few decades time (Sorry, I’m just guessing at your age and trying to err on the side of caution). Not only do I hope my children and my wife share our Christian faith together as your family does – with such joy and realism, too – but I want to be the kind of Christian brother you are.

The down-to-earth, generous and sincere Christian brother who sees opportunities to encourage and engage with others. Even at a kids birthday party on a Saturday morning, with some guy you just met over fairy bread.

*As stated above, I have a terrible memory. So, um, I think your name was David …