The Bravest Man I Know

A few years ago I had a conversation with a remarkable man. I can’t remember his exact words, but they went something like this:

“You think it’s easy for me? That I’m not scared? Of course I am! It’s never easy for me to go up to someone I don’t know from Adam and hand them a piece of literature, to engage them in spiritual conversation. I don’t like rejection any more than the next person. But we’re called to spread these messages like the leaves of autumn. The only question is whether I will answer the call and choose to be faithful to Him who called me.”

I’ve never forgotten that conversation; this man - probably the bravest man I have ever met - admitting that he faced the same fears I do.  All my excuses for not witnessing suddenly looked rather puny in comparison.

I could tell you lots of things about Jerry Eller.  About how hard he works, his seemingly boundless energy, how he hates wasting time; about how much he loves music, how quick he is to pick the hymn at worship, how he enjoys bringing his trumpet to play from his pew at church; his love for camping and hiking, and just being outside; his proficiency with a chainsaw, an ax, or a hoedad; his love for buying things by the case - whether it be avocados, lemons, or Sabbath school lessons; his incredible generosity, and his sacrificial support for foreign missions; his enthusiasm, his willingness to try new things, his quick wit, quicker smile, and the sparkle in his eyes. 

But the best, most prominent quality about which I could tell you is his love for Jesus. It seems to pervade and motivate everything he does. He would be the first to tell you that he isn’t perfect - that he’s a sinner, saved by the wonderful grace of Jesus - but there are few people who more exemplify the joy of being a servant of Christ.

Of a certain, it hasn’t been a cakewalk. Mr. Eller has endured more injustice, borne more sorrows, and gone through more hardship than many could fathom. He has been slandered and stolen from, been buffeted by injuries and insults; has seen everything he had gained from decades of toil stripped away; has lost loved ones; has himself withstood the ravages of long years of illness, besides many more privations of which I am ignorant.

And yet, if you asked him, I know he would say, without hesitation: “It was all worth it. Every ounce of suffering.”  

For you see, while the devil sought to rob Mr. Eller of everything dear - his reputation, his possessions, his health - he has utterly failed. In addition to being the bravest man I know, Mr. Eller is quite possibly the richest man as well.  First, he has an abundant harvest growing in the field, a harvest springing up from the innumerable seeds that have been planted in the hearts of all the people who have had the privilege of meeting Mr. Eller - in a Walmart parking lot, in a checkout line, at a gas station, on the side of the road, on a mountain trail, or in church lobby.  Second, he has a mighty, God-fearing family; men and women and children raised with his passion for souls, who will extend his influence far beyond anything he could have dreamed - truly a rich heritage from the Lord.  Third, I am quite certain that Mr. Eller has trove of gold - or rather, something more precious than gold: a living, fire-tested faith.  And finally, he has the most precious treasure any man could ever possess - the assurance of an inheritance incorruptible, one that fadeth not away, being stored up in Heaven; the crown of life God has promised to them who love Him.

* * *

Mr. Eller, you have touched my life. You taught me all number of important lessons: how to prune blueberry bushes, how to fell a tree, how to use a push broom properly, how to stay hydrated, how to back a trailer, the proper songs to sing after morning and evening prayer, and how to make the most of every interaction I have with others. Most importantly, you have inspired me to be more like Jesus.

Thank you. 

“For the mountains may be removed and the hills may shake,
But My lovingkindness will not be removed from you,
And My covenant of peace will not be shaken,”
Says the Lord who has compassion on you.
 “O afflicted one, storm- tossed, and not comforted,
Behold, I will set your stones in antimony,
And your foundations I will lay in sapphires.
 “Moreover, I will make your battlements of rubies,
And your gates of crystal,
And your entire wall of precious stones.
 “ All your sons will be taught of the Lord;
And the well- being of your sons will be great.
 “In righteousness you will be established;
You will be far from oppression, for you will not fear;
And from terror, for it will not come near you.
 “If anyone fiercely assails you it will not be from Me.
 Whoever assails you will fall because of you.
 “Behold, I Myself have created the smith who blows the fire of coals
And brings out a weapon for its work;
And I have created the destroyer to ruin.
 “ No weapon that is formed against you will prosper;
And every tongue that accuses you in judgment you will condemn.
This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord,
And their vindication is from Me,” declares the Lord.
Isaiah 54:10-17


  1. Thank you for writing this, Joel. It brought tears to all of our eyes. Dad says he's surprised you wrote that about him. :) I'm so thankful for him and the blessing he has been to me and so many others. He is definitely an inspiration.

  2. This is very good :) Great write up and great descriptions! God bless!


Sorry - I was getting too many spam comments so I turned on moderation. As long as you're not a bot or a troll, I'll approve your comment :)