The Amen Man was a mystery

Published 8:25 pm Friday, April 27, 2018

We called him the “Amen Man.” I don’t know what his real name was, or where he was from. 

I don’t know what he did for a living or if he had a family or how far he made it in school. The funny thing, I don’t even know what his religion was.

All I know is that he was the Amen Man. 

Every time we had a revival over at the Murphy Avenue Church of Christ back in the 60s, the Amen Man would show up a night or two. He dressed in common attire — always donned in suspenders, leading me to believe he was a hardworking man – never a suit and tie.

And no frills.

He was fairly tall, red-headed and medium weight, more of a big man than a small one. I think he would have been a great deal bigger had he not done so much walking.

I never remember the Amen Man driving to the revival. He always just walked in like Elijah and marched to the front row — he and his big, wrinkled, well-traveled Bible. Then he’d take his seat confidently in the best spot in the house. Thinking back, I think he got up front as close as he could because he didn’t want to miss a word.

Or, perhaps he figured if lightning struck in the general direction of some poor sinner he’d be safer up close to the preacher. Lightning can strike anywhere, you know, as Dr. Glenn Dowell just wrote this week in the LDN. The doctor didn’t say anything about striking sinners at church, but it seems reasonable that’d be one of the first places the Lord might send a bolt or two, if necessary. Come to think of it, I might need to move to the front row myself this Sunday, just in case.

If lightning had struck anywhere toward the back, the Amen Man was plenty safe. He wanted up front to get the full force of the gospel wave. Some good folks prefer not being up that close, thinking being in the back will temper the preaching just a bit when the big waves start rolling in. I guess they’ve never figured the lightning thing into the equation, which is something they might want to consider. I’m just saying.

 The thing that set him apart was that the preacher never went more than five sentences before he would bellow out, “Amen!” 

He didn’t whisper it in a corner and sometimes he’d make the sleepy folks on the back rows jump. There was little chance of getting a good nap at church on the nights the Amen Man showed up.

He must have used a hundred amens over the course of a sermon. Even back then, we didn’t hear too many of ‘em, although Preacher Miller would belt one out about once a week in his raspy, thunderous voice just to keep everybody honest.

We young boys didn’t understand back then that there was a bit of greatness in the room when the Amen Man came. We kind of had fun with him and would keep score some nights to see how many Amens he had in his tank that night. What we missed was that the gentleman in the overalls came to the Lord’s house with an ear to listen and a heart to learn. His outward show of approval was not an outward show at all but a sign of a strong inner grace. He must have been a man with a rare passion, not unlike old Elijah himself.

He didn’t just visit the churches of Christ, either. He was a professional church-goer of sorts. You might see him walking into a revival meeting across town somewhere, his hearty Amen half a breath away. And he was always dressed the same in simple clothes and a passionate spirit.

I don’t guess the Amen Man ever preached a sermon. But he did more. 

On any given Georgia summer night back in the 60s, he might preach a hundred sermons, so much so that — if the Amen Man walked in — you would not have to wonder where he stood when that last Amen was said.