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My Friend, David Mainse

Ray David's reflections on his friendship with David Mainse.

Canadian Evangelical Christians have had their social media newsfeed flooded with the news of David Mainse’s passing.  Eulogies and tributes have honoured him as Canada’s Pastor and Evangelist.  History will remember him as the founder of North America’s longest running live, daily television program.  His life and ministry extended far beyond Canadian borders bringing millions of dollars in missions and relief around the globe.  He met with Prime Ministers, Presidents, Royalty and dignitaries beyond number.  Heaven only knows the sum of his influence for the gospel. His life was a rare gift from God to an entire generation.

Yet, for me, his passing was personal.  He was my friend.

3 Generations of Friendship

Actually, three generations of Glenn men have counted David a friend. When David’s father founded Annesley Bible College, my paternal grandfather — newly converted to Christ and back from the war with an education grant — studied there and later helped with music at David and Norma-Jean’s first church plant in Still River. David officiated my parent’s wedding in the late 1960’s, and when I was born, my parents gave me two first names: Ray, after my father, and David, after his friend. David gave me my first vocational ministry position, officiated at my first wedding to my late wife, Rhonda, and, in 2008, when the congregation I pastored had to move out of our historic church building for the sake of the gospel, David welcomed us to worship at the Crossroads Centre in an unprecedented, but a thoroughly David way.

Profoundly Human

David was a significant part of most major moments in my life and ministry. In fact, who I am and how I approach Christian ministry has been shaped more by him than I may ever realize. I think the reason is that David was profoundly human.  There were no airs about him.  He embodied everything that it means to be human before God. That made his gospel real, authentic and refreshing.  In a world where a watered-down ‘gospel’ is all too often delivered in wooly, wet, saccharin trappings, David Mainse was the same wherever he went and whomever he was with.

Instinctive Kindness

I remember his instinctive kindness and generosity.  One time, in particular, he and I were praying together.  We were both on our knees calling out to God.  When our time of prayer ended we both stood up, dried our tears and gathered ourselves together.  He quietly handed me five, twenty dollar bills rolled together.  He had been ‘peeking’ during prayer and noticed that the soles of my dress shoes were worn through.  I was in seminary, newly married, with an infant baby. Money was tight and his quiet kindness was God’s grace to me.

Step on the Gas

I remember many conversations where he would drop pearls of unrehearsed, unplanned wisdom.  One time we were chatting about making decisions in life and leading ministries.  How could a Christian man know God’s will?  He said to me, “Give God the steering wheel and step on the gas.  Pray and go.  He will keep you on track.”

I also remember the time in 2001 when he sat me down and told me that it was time for me to leave Crossroads Christian Communications and go pastor my own church.  At the time it seemed stern.  But he was right.

I will be forever indebted to him for his kindness and, maybe even more so, for the moments when he was brutally honest and right. I will treasure the times we shared when I visited him in hospital over the last few months and especially last week. Being able to tell him how much I love him and what his friendship has meant to me was a gift from God.    

I cherish our friendship and will hold on to the memories.

Our Friend

And so he was my friend, but, in some sense, he was all of our friend.  Welcomed into the homes of millions of Canadians, he embodied the good news that God loves you – yes you and even me! David’s ministry was centred on the gospel.  He tirelessly pointed people to the love of God seen in full display on the cross, all the while tearing down denominational walls and finding deep partnership and fellowship with all who look to Jesus as Lord.

Perhaps friendship seems a thin way to describe our generation’s most recognized and well-known Christian leader.  That may be because we hold too low a view of friendship.  The friendship that we all felt with David Mainse, in various ways and differing degrees, is the gospel-lived-out.

Gospel Friendship

St. Paul, in his letter to the Galatians, said, “So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” The gospel makes us better friends.  Scripture uses the language of “household” and “brothers and sisters” to describe robust friendship born out of the gospel. Reflecting on David’s life and legacy I find myself comforted and challenged.  The good news of God’s grace made David a friend to the nation of Canada.  I pray that same grace would make me gracious, too.

History books will record the story of a man used mightily by God, motivated by a huge vision for the gospel and deep, genuine love and care for people.  On Saturday I will do my part in the funeral service to honour David Mainse, my friend and yours.

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About the Author

Ray David Glenn
Ray David is the rector (Anglican talk for senior pastor) here at St. George's. He lives in Burlington with his wife Monica and kids.
  • About the Author

    Ray David Glenn
    Ray David is the rector (Anglican talk for senior pastor) here at St. George's. He lives in Burlington with his wife Monica and kids.
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