"Where were you God? Why didn’t you answer our prayers for their safety?" I had just shared with seven men around the table my emotions and questions of where God was when my wife’s parents were both killed in an automobile accident. In church I had always heard stories of God’s miraculous deliverance. Was He just not able to be there when we needed Him?
It was then that one of the men spoke up and said, "I think this would be a good time for us us to offer up a prayer for Harold and Shirlee." Two of the men had never prayed in our group before, but this morning was different. Then, each man around that table proceeded to pray for us. The Chief of Police prayed a prayer I will never forget. He said, "God, I don’t know how to pray, but you know my heart and feelings toward Shirlee and Harold right now. Help them. Thank you." Tears came to my eyes as I realized that God had led me to this group of businessmen for a reason.
No hidden agenda
Our men’s group started four years ago simply by inviting prominent government and business leaders to a city-wide prayer breakfast, during which we shared the need for men to be able to spend regular time together. As a result, several groups were started with different formats and settings--but all with the objective of having a place for men to meet their needs for close, confidential and safe friendships.
We all agreed on the fact that Jesus was a teacher of good principles, and that we would read about His life together from the gospels. This included sharing about our families and other influential people in our lives.
When we started our Monday, 6:30 a.m. group, some of the men said, "I’m a closed person. I don’t know if this is for me, but I will try it for several weeks." They’re still coming! Over the years we have gotten together to celebrate Valentines and New Year’s Eve with our wives, so they can share in our commitments to each other and Jesus Christ. Several have expressed how meaningful this year’s New Year’s Eve party was.
Wives are being touched
A short time ago one of the men’s wives saw me at a city banquet. She came up and gave me a big hug and said, "This is for my husband because he has a hard time expressing himself. I want to thank you for being his friend. When Monday morning comes, nothing can stop him from being at his 6:30 a.m. men’s group. Just a few weeks ago he told the group, ‘I have now learned who Jesus is. My goal is to learn to know Him personally like Harold.’ "
A number of years ago when we moved into our small Adventist community of six Seventh-day Adventist churches, a college and hospital, I was concerned with the way we often distance ourselves from those around us. I was determined to spend time getting to know the people in my business community. I remembered that Jesus’ example was to be where the people were. Two of the exciting ways I’ve been able to broaden my impact and friendships is by joining the Rotary and being a participating member of the Chamber of Commerce.
There was a time when I was troubled because I could not give time to the community and be heavily involved with my local church at the same time. My church is important to me, but in the past I have been so committed "in the church" that I forgot there were other people in the world, too. I am convinced that a business person can reach out for Christ through friendship and personal caring in unique ways. I am eagerly anticipating what God has in store for me as He continues to lead in this direction.
Harold Kehney worked with Color Press for HART Research Institute in Walla Walla, WA at the time this article was submitted.