Doug Coe will be mad when he finds out I’ve done this. He doesn’t like to be in the spotlight. He doesn’t do interviews. Doesn’t write books or articles. Doesn’t have a website or Facebook page. Doesn’t even (personally) do emails. He’s a purest. His idea is that Jesus influenced the whole world without any of those things – so he should as well. Not a bad thought….
And….that’s why he’s the third most influential person in my life. He’s controversial for sure! He’s so behind-the-scenes that people mis-interpret him as being sneaky, even subversive. He’s lived in the DC area forever, working with US leaders and people of influence around the world. He’s sort of the “godfather” of the National Prayer Breakfast and all the relational work that flows from that – sometimes called “The Fellowship.”
I’ve been with Doug in the Middle East, in Canada, several times in Colorado, and many times in Washington DC. He’s the real deal. Ruthlessly focused on Jesus. Every time he walks into the room – whatever we were talking about before – immediately turns to Jesus.
He always asks questions like “Hey Carl, how’s it going with your 36 groups of 2?” Huh? My 36 groups of 2? What the heck is that? He explains – “You know, like Jesus’ big strategy. He sent out 36 groups of 2. I figure if Jesus did it, we should be too. You’re following him, right?” Ugh!
Or he says, “Hey Carl, what have you and Samir agreed on lately so Jesus can do it?”
Or…”I heard that you and your friend so and so aren’t doing that great together. Let’s call them right now and get this right.” And he calls….
Once we were spending two days together – just four of us. And one was a man of great influence – who’s name you’d know. One of Doug’s secretaries kept coming in and handing Doug a note. But he wouldn’t respond – we were going through the scriptures intently. Finally this man of great influence who we were with said to Doug “Go ahead and take that – whatever it is, we can wait for a bit, it’s obviously important.” (It was the President of an African country who had just stopped in to say hi – that’s who Doug was ignoring).
Doug, got very intense and looked at this leader and said “What do you think we’re doing here?” The man replied “Uhhhh, studying the Bible?”
“NO” Doug said emphatically. We are learning the ways of the King that made all Kings. There is a “king” outside, but we’re studying the One who created that King – you want to stop doing that so I can go and say hi to this man in the foyer?”
And we kept going…..
I owe Doug much. I haven’t always agreed with him. (Or maybe it’s better said – he hasn’t always agreed with me)! But he has taught me more than anyone how powerful it is to stay focused on Jesus of Nazareth. Not religion. Not debates. Not politics. In a sense – not even people. Just Jesus.
Most of my life I was focused on Christianity. Doctrine. The church. Missions. Evangelism. I would have called it the stuff around Jesus. Or the stuff of Jesus. But it wasn’t Jesus himself. I have changed. And I thank Doug for that. He’ll never read this – and I won’t tell him I wrote it. But his impact has been unbelievably powerful and transformative – and I thank you – Doug! Thank you!