“I’m a big man”, he used to say, and I agree. He was big in a number of ways. My friend and a very real partner in ministry Big Donnie died this past week. Anyone who visits our Street Hope Saint John Facebook page will see Donnie there in almost every montage.
I first met Donnie 17 years ago. He took a course I was teaching at Taylor College, on Romans. Over the years we discussed Romans often and Don would remark that while I liked Romans with all its density and depth, he loved James with its simplicity and practicality. Donnie believed in being “a doer of the word not just a hearer.”
About 6 years ago Donnie needed some housing and I was able to get him into an apartment in our college residence. He and three other guys in similar circumstances became their own little religious community.
Donnie had a big heart. Probably his most often used phrase was “I love you.” He said it all the time to almost everyone he met, and you always felt he meant it! Though he had little he was always generous with what he had. His days were filled with helping people.
He had the biggest laugh. When Big Donnie entered a room it wasn’t long before everyone knew it as peals of his laughter would reverberate.
He had a big faith. I remember a time when I was moaning that we had lost a sponsor for our trip to Deer Island. Donnie piped up “You don’t have a money problem. You have a faith problem!” With that he dug in his wallet and gave me what was probably his last twenty dollars. “Here this will get you started!”
We spent hours with me leaning in his driver’s window and him parked in the driveway or on a street. We talked mostly about Jesus. Don saved his biggest love for Jesus.
We did many things together but I especially remember when we went to Crandall University to teach a class on Mission. He was so tickled to be Professor Big Donnie.
This post is a bit shorter than usual. Linda and I are wending our way home from the funeral of my dear sister-in-law and I am banging this out before we hop in the car to begin our trek home. We have experienced a lot of death lately and I admit to feeling pretty sad, but we do not mourn as those who have no hope. I can hear Big Donnie telling me “You don’t have a death problem you have a faith problem!”
I’ll miss my friend.