Almost exactly ten years ago, in the fall of 2011, I found myself eating breakfast with Don Lewis. I was a bright-eyed first semester student at Regent College, full of earnest, barely coherent questions, wanting to understand how my evangelical upbringing fit within the larger story of the church. Don was a church historian whose work on evangelicalism, I would later learn, made invaluable contributions to our understanding of this modern renewal movement. But on that October morning, we didn’t talk about history or evangelicals at all.
Don had asked me–a brand-new Regent student not in any of his classes–to grab breakfast. What started with coffee, eggs, and toast took over the whole morning. By the time we were done, Don knew my life story. Back in his office, Don put an arm around me and sat with me in long, quiet prayer, murmuring thanks to God for “my friend, Paul.”
From that morning on, that’s who I was to Don: “my friend.” When I ran into Don in the atrium, “Good to see you, my friend.” When we’d catch up on Skype: “How are you, my friend?” When I started to make my own small contributions to the historical guild, with a huge smile, “Amazing job, my friend!”
A few days ago, on October 19, Don Lewis died, suddenly, without warning. After forty years of teaching at Regent College, this faithful saint went to meet his Lord. Since Tuesday, tributes have been pouring in from former students, many of them echoing my first thought upon hearing the terrible news: I’ve lost a friend.
It turns out that Don had a lot of “my friends.”Continue reading “Remembering my friend Don Lewis”