Saying goodbye to a friend…

Years ago I had the joy of holding a Dayspring Revival in Plainview, TX. at First UMC.  It was a wonderful meeting with a powerful move of God.  Later that year as I was leading worship at our annual conference a large man walked up to the keyboard and just stood there.  When I say ‘large’, I don’t mean fat.  He was a solid mountain of a man. After a while he came closer and began to speak.  “You don’t know me, but I came to your revival meeting in Plainview.  I only came to shut my wife up.  I hadn’t darkened the door of a church in years and didn’t want to be there.  I expected one of those “fire and brimstone” sermons and to be told what a bad man I was.  Instead, I heard a story that captured my attention.  You told me that even though I had lived a rough life, God loved me and accepted me as one of His children. I was deeply touched and I asked Jesus to be the Lord of my life that night.  God used you to change my life.  Thank you. As a matter of fact, I’m going to be taking my first appointment as a United Methodist pastor this year.”  Then this giant of a man wrapped me up in his arms, lifted me off my feet and gave me one of the biggest bear hugs I’ve ever had in my life.

That conversation took place over 12 years ago.  During those years, Don McMahan has served our Lord as pastor in several Northwest Texas conference churches.  He’s witnessed of his faith in Christ wherever he’s been, even in prison ministry.  He had a passion for saving souls. Those who knew him before his encounter with God will testify that he was a bitter, hard living, hard drinking man who was transformed by the power of God to a gentle servant. His wife declares God gave her a new husband that night.

I received word today that Don has gone home to be with the Lord he grew to love and serve.  In three short months a cancer took his life.  He will be greatly missed by those who loved him.  I am so happy that he came and told me his story.  I am so happy that because of his newfound faith in God, he was able to lead many others to faith in Christ.  I know that one day I will see Don again in heaven and I would not be at all surprised if I don’t get another one of his famous hugs.  Please join me in praying for his widow, Virginia, and his family and friends in this time of loss.

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