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by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Castaway Restaurant, Burbank, California
Tuesday Evening, July 3, 2018

Aristotle once said, “If you have 50 enemies they cannot stop you if you have a few true friends.” Your true friends will give you strength to go on and become a successful Christian, one who is able to help someone else to become a successful disciple of Christ.

“He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed”
        (Proverbs 13:20).

Choose your true friends carefully. They must be people who cannot be overcome by the problems of life. They must be tough enough to inspire you. They must be tender enough to see the good in you, and inspire you to be better. They must be those who want to see you become a better disciple of Christ. They must be people who you admire because of their zeal for Christ. They must be people who you want to emulate, that you want to learn from because you see the strength of their characters. As you see them conquer the trials that confront them, you will learn from their example. Choose your close friends carefully.

Pray with them and you will learn to pray better. Laugh with them and you will learn to laugh better.

My true friends have taught me more than I could ever learn from merely hearing an inspiring sermon. I learned more from Murphy Lum than I did from any sermon. I learned more from Gene Wilkerson than I did from the deacons in that church. Murphy and Gene didn’t criticize me. They accepted me. And I watched them, and I learned from them. We were comrades together.

As I grew older, I had very few close friends. That impoverished me. Then Aaron Yancy and John Cagan came to pray with me. They did not criticize me. They accepted me. I watched them. I admired them, and I learned from them. We became comrades together. Aaron and John knew I had mood swings, and fits of depression. I would go home every Sunday night feeling alone and a failure. So they came and sat with me for a half hour at the end of the day, each Sunday night. They didn’t preach to me. They were just there to laugh and talk with me. I can never thank them enough for being my comrades. I have learned more from them than they will ever learn from me.

And then, there was Dr. Cagan. He was always there for me. I leaned on him so hard that I often called him – over and over during times of stress. Those three men – John, Aaron and Dr. Cagan strengthened me more than I can ever explain.

Gradually I became the man they wanted me to be. Gradually I forgot the pain and loneliness. Through them I gained strength to reach out to others. I became closer to my sweet wife. Also with my sons. Now I was able to lead, not as a taskmaster, but as a mentor and friend to others in the church. I began to be what I was supposed to be – a mentor, an inspirer, the old man who could help others on the path to discipleship.

Ileana is teaching me and others to know the new young people well enough to help them become disciples. She is my partner and my closest friend. I would be lost without her. She is my teacher too. Though her I am gaining strength to help others. Through Dr. Cagan, John and Aaron I am learning to be a mentor and to inspire our young people to do greater things for Christ. I can say without question that Ileana, Dr. Cagan, John Cagan and Aaron have brought me through the wilderness and given me the strength to become the pastor that I needed to be – to lead our church in a new and better way.

And I say to all of you tonight, what Aristotle said long ago: “If you have fifty enemies, they cannot stop you if you have a few true friends.” Get in a prayer group with them. Share your life with them. They will inspire you to be a greater Christian than you ever thought possible! The Bible says,

“He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed”
        (Proverbs 13:20).

Choose your close friends very carefully.

John and Aaron, along with Noah Song, Jack Ngann and Mr. Griffith, are my prayer partners. We will be meeting together again in my home office once a week in the near future. I am also inviting Dr. Kreighton Chan to meet with us when we resume in a couple of weeks.

Tonight we are here to celebrate the sixtieth birthday of Dr. Kreighton Chan. I have known him for over forty years. He is an outstanding man in many ways. Let me tell you about him.

First, he is an intelligent and hardworking man. He is a medical doctor and has worked at Kaiser Permanente for many years. He is now a partner at Kaiser. He is diligent in studying the Bible and learning about the Christian faith. On top of his medical doctorate, he holds a Master of Divinity degree.

Second, he loves Jesus Christ. He trusted Jesus and was converted the very first time he came to our church. He heard me preach the Gospel and he trusted Christ right away. It was that simple. He has been a faithful and zealous Christian ever since. There has never been any question about his dedication and love for Christ.

Third, Dr. Chan loves evangelism. As soon as he trusted Jesus, he threw himself into the work of Christ. He brought people to church right away.

Dr. Chan spends many hours every week doing evangelism on college campuses. He gets more names than anyone else in our church! He spends hours telephoning them in the evenings and on weekends to bring them to church.

Fourth, Dr. Chan is a very generous giver. Starting in 1990 we had a terrible church split. We had to raise more than four thousand dollars a week above the tithes to make the payments on our building. Everyone stepped in and gave money. Dr. Chan gave the most of all. He never complained. He sacrificed and gave generously. Dr. Cagan tells me that he often gave more to offerings than what was needed. More than anyone else, Dr. Chan saved our church building. Without him we would have lost our church building.

Finally, Dr. Chan loves our church. He is in church every time the door is open. He works for Christ at our church and does many hours of evangelism. He does not say, “I’m a doctor. I have no time.” No, he puts Christ first and works tirelessly for the church – while being a medical doctor at the same time!

At sixty, Dr. Chan has now retired from more than half of his medical work. But he has not retired from the work of Christ! Next year, Dr. Chan will be managing our church’s bookstore, along with his other work for Christ. He loves books! I know he wants to see our young people read good books and grow strong in their Christian lives – and I am sure that Dr. Chan will do very well at this!

No, Dr. Chan has not retired from the work of Christ! Each Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday he will be doing evangelism at different colleges throughout Southern California – especially places like UCLA and Cal State Northridge that are too far to reach from the evangelism we do from our church building. I am sure that he will get at least 50 to 75 names each week! This will provide a great boost to our church. He started doing this yesterday.

I am proud of Dr. Chan. May God bless you, sir, as we celebrate your 60th birthday!

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Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Fairest Lord Jesus” (translated by Joseph A. Seiss, 1823-1904).