There are many more things that could be said about good friends, but there can only be a few genuine relationships that happen on this level. I plan to post a few posts about some friends in my life that I would put in this category. These friendships have withstood the test of time and many hardships. So for this post I thank God for my good friend Wil Owens. I first met Wil as he was preaching at a youth ski retreat in January 1999. I am not sure about anything more than meeting him at that point, and then again one year later in January 2000. At this point I was a few months from getting married starting college at The College at Southeastern. Again, I'm not sure how much we communicated at this time, but when I began college Wil was in Seminary there. His wonderful wife, Summer, and my wife, Shannon, became friends as well which enabled us to hang out together (mostly at Dairy Queen in Wake Forest which I dearly want as I type this). That January we all went on a vacation together and that is when our friendship began to develop.
At this time ministry began to be planned together. Wil had been to India several times for missions and was heading back in April 2001. This was his first trip to Andrah Pradesh and by God's grace and provision I was able to go with him. While not very edifying, I still remember Wil pointing out that he knew that my life long goal was to show the world I was an idiot and I was starting with India. Please know this was in humor and fun and nothing negative (I hope). Our friendship at this point became one of accountability in some ways and theological encouragement in many ways.
In April 2005 I resigned from being a student pastor in Rocky Mount, NC to assist Wil in a church plant. Over these last three years I realized what a true friend looks like. There was stress on my side, sin to be sure, and a lack of love for my brother. Wil was a rock of faith that has made me refocus on Christ and the gospel. I can remember Wil helping me to work through some of my toughest theological questions (Wil if you read this, I still hold to my understanding of the Angel of the Lord!), and he was even gracious enough to help me see some areas that I have struggled in greatly. However, it wasn't until after I left Grace Covenant Community Church to pastor that I realized how good of a friend he is. Wil Owens has been used by God in my life for my personal sanctification. Wil has been an instrument in God's hand that causes me to marvel at the glory of God. While many people will come and go throughout one's life, I thank God greatly for my dear brother Wil Owens.