Lord willing, Harry Lewis will be preaching in a gospel meeting here in Zion the week of April 14, 1996. While I always enjoy gospel meetings, I am especially looking forward to this one.
The first time I met Harry Lewis was during a meeting at Kokomo, Indiana over twenty years ago. I was still in high school at the time, but I remember being impressed by Harry's enthusiasm, love for the Lord and great plainness of speech. I had been preaching some "by appointment" and I still recall Harry's words of encouragement. After the meeting in Kokomo, I sent a letter to Harry asking for his opinion on marrying a non-Christian. I still have his kind and thoughtful reply in my files.
In January of 1981, my wife and I moved to Evansville, Indiana to work with the good brethren at the Northwest congregation. We truly enjoyed working with the brethren there. The Northwest congregation has two of the finest men I have ever met serving as elders -- Norbert Maudlin and Gene McNabb.
While preparing for my first public debate I called Harry on many occasions. He always had time to offer his help and support. Harry and his good wife, Wilma, drove several hundred miles to help me during that debate. The success of that discussion was due in large part to the help Harry had given me.
For several years the brethren at Northwest had discussed establishing a congregation on the other side of town. In 1986 the Eastside congregation was established and I went to work with the new group. Before we left Northwest, the elders asked Harry Lewis to come work with them. I believe it was good for all involved that Harry and I were able to work together for six weeks before the new congregation met for the first time.
For the next seven and a half years Harry and I preached in the same city. The brethren at Northwest started a call-in radio program as soon as Harry got in town. Every week -- until moving to Zion just three years ago -- Harry and I spent Sunday afternoons together answering Bible questions on the radio.
There are very few preachers in the country that I would be willing to work with on a call-in radio program. Too many men are ill-equiped to answer questions off-the-cuff. Other men are just too timid. Some simply do not have the conviction needed to stand for the truth. The radio program gave us both the opportunity to have public debates with several denominational preachers. I believe that radio program alone silenced the mouths of many false teachers -- especially among the Pentecostal groups.
With this background, I would like to tell what I have learned over the years from Harry Lewis.
First, Harry taught me to take a stand for the truth regardless of what other men think. I have never met a man in my life who desired to obey the will of God more than Harry Lewis. Unlike some brethren among us, Harry has never been a weather vane! Harry never had to see which way the wind was blowing before taking a stand on some Bible issue.
Second, Harry taught me how important it is for preachers to live what they preach. Harry has had his share of detractors over the years, but they have never even hinted at any sort of moral impropriety on his part -- which is a lot more than can be said about some of his critics. Harry and I have both taught that preachers guilty of immorality need to find another line of work. If a man's own wife can't trust him, why should the brethren?
Third, Harry taught me about the providence of God. There have been times that I have worried about the outcome of certain events in my life -- Harry was always there to remind me that "God has a way of working things out."
Fourth, Harry taught me about the value of prayer. I don't think anyone has ever had a meal with Harry without first going to God in prayer. Some men pray before meals for show -- Harry prays with humble thanksgiving to his heavenly Father.
Fifth, Harry taught me that plainness of speech is of more value than worldly wisdom. Peter and John were "uneducated and untrained men" (Acts 4:13), yet the elders, rulers and scribes "realized that they had been with Jesus." If you listen to Harry preach, you will realize that he too has "been with Jesus."
Sad note: My dear friend and beloved brother passed from this world on Thursday, April 24, 2014. He will be missed by all of those who love righteousness.