Years ago I met a very special brother of African heritage in Canada, Bernie Smith. Bernie was the senior Canadian champion in track and field for several events. He was an incredible minister of the Gospel with a compassion for the poor as well as a marvelous worship leader and pastor.
Bernie led worship at Amsterdam ’83 where thousands of evangelists came from all over the world in response to an invitation by Billy Graham. When he and I met each other, it was interesting because we never focused on our differences. It’s like when you meet someone who has blond, red, or black hair. You notice the difference, but that’s it. Immediately, you either connect as friends or have caution about an individual. Bernie didn’t look at me any more oddly than he would anyone else, even though I had an amazing southern accent along with a bit of energy beyond the norm.
We fell in love as brothers because of Jesus living in each of us. Our age difference didn’t matter, neither did our ethnicity. He didn’t see me as anything but a shell in which Tom resided— the real Tom. I saw him exactly the same way. Our friendship has flourished over three decades though geographically we are nations apart.
This is what Jesus can do with an individual, a couple, a neighborhood, a province, state, or a nation. He is the One that we see in each other, and His love permeates all. Oh the power of the Gospel!
Guest blog contributor: Dr. Tom Phillips
Vice President Billy Graham Library &
Former Senior Crusade Director for Billy Graham Evangelistic Association