Meet my friend, Henri Nouwen

Henri Nouwen was a Catholic priest, but a large portion of his audience was Evangelicals. Nouwen wrote 39 books, which have been published in 30 languages. His journey from Holland to the halls of Harvard and Yale, and then to the community north of Toronto where he chose to live with and care for adults with disabilities, gave him profound understanding and insight into how our spiritual lives intersect with our daily existence.

Henri and I videotaped television interviews in 1995, just months before his untimely death. Followed by cameras, we talked for hours in his front room at the L’Arche Daybreak community, in his office, and while walking the grounds. We talked about life, our ministry callings, our personal and communal struggles, our hopes and fears. 

Henri’s writings would give one the sense that he was a calm, relaxed man. In fact, he was the opposite. His eyes flashed, always aware of others and ready to offer assistance or advice, even to camera operators. His arms ever active, he would press home his points and invite you into his thoughts, filled with enthusiasm for his subject but even more loving the interaction with his audience. 

In this first podcast, I explore his life and family in Holland. Henri describes his childhood and his early desire to serve Christ. We will also learn about how he crossed the often-sharp divide between Catholics and Evangelicals. His unabashed love for Christ overcame distinctions, and his deep understanding of the Father’s love for us his children obliterated the boundaries that typically separate religious tribes. 

In this podcast, I recall Henri’s appearance at the Ottawa (Canada’s capital city) Prayer Breakfast. I’ve listened to scores of preachers and speakers, but that day, the atmosphere was charged in ways I had seldom experienced. My recollections will help you understand Henri’s impact on these most powerful of Canada’s political and social hierarchy.

The remaining podcasts in this series of Henri Nouwen will be released over the coming months.

Listen to today’s podcast here.

Brian C. StillerGlobal Ambassador, World Evangelical Alliance

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