I may not have the exact day correct, but I have been thinking a lot about my deep close friend Graham Johnston the last few days. It was in 2011 about this time that my friend Graham passed from this life.
I’m missing him a lot these days.
I wish I could talk with him about what Brenda and I are going through with her cancer diagnosis. I’m also missing how much fun we would have mixed of course with passionate discussions about ministry and vision. We longed to make an impact in the world that would glorify God. I miss him because I have recently been communicating with Susan Perlman and Martin Sanders. The four of us with Graham were like the “Rat Pack” of Leighton Ford’s Point Group. Often at our annual gathering we would stay up late into the night talking, laughing, sharing and praying.
Graham was one who would get incredibly passionate (and loud) about certain topics near and dear to his heart. These would include his wife Tracey; Paige and Carson (love that man’s name); “Subi” his church in Perth; his closest friends; preaching; mission work and of course his immediate family.
To Graham, a minister out of touch with today’s culture was like an uninformed missionary trying to teach in a foreign country. He was an amazing communicator and understood that to communicate God’s Word effectively, teachers need to know how to connect with and confront an audience of postmodern listeners. That is what inspired him to write Preaching To A Postmodern World: A Guide to Reaching Twenty-first Century Listeners. His insights written there continue to help speakers and teachers are birthed out of praxis and having been widely travelled.
Despite Grahams enormous influence globally, his legacy means more to me on a very personal level. Our son Jeremy and his wife Shari had the privilege of working with Graham at the church in Perth Australia in 2009. Seeing Graham modelling how to live life as an authentic Christian changed our kids. They returned back to Canada transformed. They loved church and made many friends there. They returned empowered, confidant, inspired, passionate and with a love for those in culture who perhaps would never enter the doors of a church.
As I share some of my friend Graham’s legacy let it be an encouragement to build on our legacy. You can start with some of what I learned from Graham:
- Be passionate about the things you really love and act on it. Get loud.
- Don’t be afraid to express and show your love for others.
- Love your church and let them know that.
- Communicate in a credible way with others about the love of God. Practice it.
- Build into and mentor those younger and empower them with confidence.
- Be generous. Share you time, your home, your resources, and your influence.
- Love your spouse and kids and let others know you do.
- Be authentic.
- Finish well!
So today Graham, I raise a toast to you. Your friendship endures to this day for we are indeed ‘forever friends.”