Remembering my friend Don Lewis

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.”

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Creation Song

Editor’s note: Brazos Fellows alum Emily Verdoorn (2019-2020) returns to the blog in this wonderful reflection for Eastertide. Be sure to check out Emily’s online studio to see more of her original artwork.

Yesterday afternoon, a beautiful storm rolled in here in Des Moines.  Grey green billowing clouds threatened that unsettling and mysterious kind of beauty, smell, and electric atmosphere which only a thunderstorm can bring.  The morning had been a kind of anxious blue with clouds scudding across the sky.  As distant thunder began, the stillness preceding the storm came almost as a relief to the wind.  I had been outside working on the back patio table, so I hurried to pack up my things.  In only a few minutes rain came down in torrents.  Small bits of hail seemed to jump up from the ground and bounced off the grass in the front yard.  Inside, we turned on lamps against the sudden dimness.  It didn’t last long and soon settled into an even, steady spring rain.  As the evening turned to night, the regular “plunk-plunk” of large drops of rain gave a sense of comfort in shelter and a promise of rich green growth.

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