An Open Letter to My Friend, Ravi
Darlene and I are praying for you and your lovely family during these days. I want you to know how much you mean to me personally. As I've been reflecting on your impact, so many things come to mind: The privilege that was mine of circumnavigating the world with you for two years; "Don't get excited" from our driver in NYC who we were pretty sure went to high school with Moses; to sound effects in your hotel room (sorry about that!); to carving our wives names on the rocks at the bottom of Africa; to having rocks thrown at us in India on our way to the Baldwin Boy's School; to eating springbok in South Africa and flaming hot Indian food in Chennai after visiting your former home; to a shared love of Elvis; to you thrashing me in ping-pong in New Zealand; to lunches in Atlanta; to dedicating our third daughter Emily ... the memories come quickly to me and I am grateful for all you invested in me over the years.
You have taught me: that there is never a reason to be unkind; the value and power of preaching (and how to use a shout and a whisper for ultimate effect); theology (God's sovereignty and man's responsibility on a flight from British Columbia to Portland/Seattle); the lasting value of writing books (my third, "Your Greatest Adventure" [for new believers] is at the printer now); how one man, totally sold out to God's call will stand before kings; to the value of a wife who is a partner in every sense of the word; to being able to recognize your own personal call (you recognized my call to pastoral ministry before I did); the list for me is endless.
Ravi, you have been a friend, mentor, and father figure to me. I have always looked up to you and recalled your shared wisdom countless times. You formed me into a better leader and pastor. You always introduced me as your colleague, and never as your assistant or right-hand man, even as you introduced me to people I would’ve never otherwise had the chance to meet like R.C. Sproul, Chuck Swindoll, a Russian three-star general (whom you led to faith in Christ), the Anglican bishop of Sydney, Australia, and people from every nook and cranny of the globe.
And when you spoke at our church in July 2018, I was never so excited! It was a red-letter day for me. Darlene and I loved having you in our home again for dinner. And as always, you were so gracious and kind - even preaching two different messages.
And I think one of my life's highlights also came from you, when you referred to me as one of the world's leading authorities on FW Boreham. Day made! You were likely kidding, but I reveled in it. Thank you for introducing me to a writer who has changed my life and pastoral ministry. One of my first assignments when I started with RZIM was you handing me a book by an author I had never heard of, and asking me to read the book, noting every biblical illustration. The first essay I read was, "Hatpins and Buttonhooks" - how everything in life is either a question mark or an exclamation point. And I was hooked. You set me on a life-long search for his books and ephemeral and saddled me with an expensive collecting habit!
As I write these thoughts with tears in my eyes, and a grateful but heavy heart, I want you to know how much you are loved and deeply, deeply appreciated. I am praying for God to do a miraculous healing work...but if He doesn't, I long for the day when we will meet again on The Other Side of the Hill.
Godspeed, my dear friend,