What’s in a name – Celebrating the Legacy of Harry Denman

The Foundation for Evangelism celebrated 72 years last week, on January 31, 2021. Now, just as when the organization was founded, we remain committed to sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ, just as founder Dr. Harry Denman did throughout his life. Those who knew and worked with Dr. Denman often speak of him admiringly. Sometimes they humorously remember his “uniqueness.” A “minimalist” before minimalism was a popular trend, he often gave away his personal belongings to bless others and open a conversation about the love of Jesus. He is said to have owned only 1 suit and his belongings could fit in a suitcase. He asked strangers to pray for him, invited them to church, and listened to their stories.

We received a wonderful reminder of Dr. Denman’s ministry in a letter from Dana K. Tyson who served as a missionary in the Philippines and worked with Dr. Denman who, at the time, headed the Board of Evangelism of the Methodist Church. Ms. Tyson shared this with us:

Dana K. Tyson (left) with Dr. Harry Denman at the Manila International Airport

What’s in a Name?

By. Dana K. Tyson, Missionary to the Philippines

In 1952 at Lake Junaluska, Dr. Harry Denman preached a sermon on What’s in a name. He talked about Peter, Paul, Andrew and others as he described so vividly disciples and their relationship to their Christ. It is difficult to think of the name Harry Denman without thinking of the Christ he shared with all he met in every place that he went in all of the world.

In a shop in Manila, Philippines, he asked the sales lady where she went to church. She replied “I don’t go to your church.” “I didn’t ask you that,” he said, “I asked you where you go.” “I go to the Catholic Church,” she replied. “Pray for me,” he said. “I will,” she answered …. The name Harry Denman means “a man of prayer.” He arose early each day and prayed for people around the world, calling them by name. He prayed in homes, shops, and wherever he went and with whomever he met.

In a restaurant he asked a waitress if she worked every Sunday. When she replied that she did, he said, “You have to work so people like us can eat. Do you ever have a chance to go to church?” “Not often,” was the answer. “Pray for me,” he said. The name Harry Denman means “listening love.” The agape love that responds to situations that cry.

Denman and Tyson at Lingayen Mission House in the Philippines.

Dr. Denman took many groups of evangelists to the Philippines. People named their children after him. They wanted them to grow up to be evangelists. The name Harry Denman means “sharing the Good News.”

What’s in a name? Each of us will associate different things with the names of people we know. The name Harry Denman will mean many things to many people whose life he touched. Prayer, agape love, concern, sympathy, empathy, but always it will be associated with a person who shared his Christ.

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