By Eric Chambers
I had the pleasure of serving at Senator Hatfield’s graduate assistant at the Hatfield School of Government at Portland State University in 2004 and 2005. Having studied Senator Hatfield’s legacy for many years and identifying closely with him both politically (as a moderate Republican) and theologically (as a Christian), I was very excited for the opportunity to work with him.
The first time I met him at his office in downtown Portland, we had a terrific conversation about Oregon, politics, and eventually about faith. He showed me the cross necklace that he wore, which was given to him by Mother Teresa, and spoke about the many tribulations he had experienced throughout his storied career aligning his faith and values with his philosophies.
I remember asking him, “Senator, here we are in the middle of downtown Portland, one of the least “churched” cities in the world. In a place like this and at a time like this, what does evangelism look like?”
Senator Hatfield got a little frustrated, his lip pursed slightly, and he said almost tersely, “Eric, it is what it has always been, love, and forgiveness.” As a Christian, I think it is so easy to forget that the single two most attractive, evangelistic qualities of our faith are embodied in love and forgiveness.
Senator Hatfield never forgot this, and for the two years that I worked with him I witnessed him demonstrate both many times, along with his trademark gracefulness and kindness. One of the greatest compliments I have ever received came when Mark Hatfield called me his friend.