“His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.” –Matthew 25:23 KJV
When yesterday was young — when I was young — there were friends and church and youth group outings, and all the memories from those to last a lifetime. From middle school through high school we were in our church youth group — and it was a big youth group! There were over 100 of us. My dad was a deacon and a Sunday school teacher. We lived one block from church so much of those years was spent at church activities.
We enjoyed youth retreats at Massanetta Springs near Massanutten Resort and presented Christian folk musicals in Nags Head. James River buses would line up in the parking lot to take us Christmas caroling to church members who were ill or elderly. We had Bible studies and community projects and socials at parents’ houses and much more.
They were my friends and my social community. They helped keep me on the right path through my teen years which built a solid foundation for my adult life.
One of the most beloved church leaders from those days was H.D. Harman — Mr. Harman to the youth, Reverend Harman to the world. He was married with five daughters, and two of them were around the ages of my sister Gail and me. When he was called to come to our church, they became involved in all the activities including those for the youth.
Mr. Harman was a big burly man — think Hoss Cartwright on “Bonanza” — who could have been intimidating except we all knew he was a big loveable marshmallow inside. He was our youth minister of music … and so much more. When we were performing the Christian folk musicals “Good News” and “Tell It Like It Is,” not only did our choir consist of over 100 teens but we also had guitars, bass, banjo, piano, and other musical instruments played by the youth who were part of the group.
On weekend youth retreats when we teens tended to be our most rowdiest and pushed the evening curfew, Mr. Harman played the bouncer, so to speak. As the clock neared midnight and his patience waned, he would bounce us right back to our rooms with a firm admonition to go in your rooms and go to bed and don’t come back out!
God bless him for his patient heart. We loved him for it. His big baritone voice would boom out as we all sang — we sang all the time because that’s what we did — and he played along with our talent shows that showcased talent and silliness and fun. As we shared the highs and lows in our lives, he shared from his youth.
We learned the lessons of life from Mr. Harman in the character he exhibited in his own life: kindness, generosity, integrity, fairness, patience, sincerity, devotion, loyalty, determination, persistence, tolerance, optimism, and most importantly, spirituality.
4 “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” –1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NIV
Mr. Harman passed away in June 2019. His memorial service will be held this week in Richmond and many of the 1970s youth group will be attending to honor this man of God who touched the lives of so many. I’ve kept up with some church pals over the years but some I haven’t seen in decades so it will be wonderful to once again gather and catch up. Maybe an impromptu chorus of “Good News” or “Pass It On” will break out.
Leave it to Mr. Harman to bring us all together, something we talked about doing for years but it never got off the ground.
Thank you, Mr. Harman, for coming into our lives. Thank you for the sacrifices and dedication. And thank you for sharing your life, your testimony, and your character with us.
I imagine that right now in heaven there is a big bass voice singing amongst the angels … one day we will all join him in that choir.
“I thank my God upon every remembrance of you.” –Philippians 1:3 KJV
-Bon Air Baptist: Rev. Cochran Has Passed Away (https://lynnrmitchell.wordpress.com/2015/12/03/bon-air-baptist-church-rev-cochran-passed-away/)