How to Make a Friend: Howard and the Butcher Plant

I raise grassfed Lamb.  My work takes me to a butcher plant in a neighboring town.  An employee named Howard and I have talked briefly several times over a period of years. You could say we have “chewed the fat” about weather, lambs, his work and so on.  I knew his name, but I don’t know if he knew mine.  We were acquaintances, nothing more.

One day I dropped off some young lambs at the locker.  Howard and some other workers were arriving.   We greeted each other with a “Hello” and “Good morning”. Then I took courage—it’s often breathtaking—and asked Howard in front of another worker, “Have you received Jesus Christ into your life?”  He looked at his co-worker, who turned away, busy with his preparation for the day.  Howard turned to me and began to pour out personal stuff from his heart.  Stuff most men don’t often open up about.  “Well, I think so, but I’m not sure.”  He went on telling some of his struggles and admitting his faults.  I could tell he really wasn’t sure. Nonetheless, as he kept talking, he was making a public confession of his faith in Jesus Christ, perhaps for the first time in a public way.

I was not able to go farther with Howard that day.  Yet something had changed in our relationship. . . .

The next time I saw Howard was several weeks later.  He was standing in a group of workers and customers at the locker.  He immediately turned his attention to me and introduced me to another worker.  His introduction was kind, gracious and full of wit, claiming that I was “a wise man and filled with wisdom”.  He made jokes about how he and I each had the same occupation.  Always pleasant in the past, this time he was overtly friendly.  You see, we had both taken a risk and shared something in common—faith in Christ.  We were brothers.  We had come to the same table and eaten together.  And he wasn’t afraid to show it in front of a group of co-workers.

I experience this “brother factor” phenomenon repeatedly and with few exceptions.  Men (and women) want authenticity.  People want to talk about their faith and their struggles with God.  All of us are looking for real people with whom we can open up.  Sometimes it’s easiest with a stranger.  Would you give someone the opportunity?

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