So, tonight, I’ve been thinking about my dad and how amazing he is.
As a child, he grew up mostly without love or a family or any sense of security, so he knows all about struggle. In adult years, his security has always been in God – and that has seen him through some hair-raising, mind-bending life adventures.
Dad, because of his own life experiences, accepts everyone for who they are and he NEVER misses an opportunity to talk to someone about Jesus. And because he pretty much has NO sense of shame with this stuff, the strangest things happen to him.
He goes out to walk the dog, will acknowledge a fellow dog walker on the path and ends up having a fascinating conversation about Jesus. Or, he’ll get a feeling he needs to talk to someone in a restaurant and he does, and it turns out that they were perfectly ready at that point, to hear it. He talks to the window cleaner, to salespeople, to call centre staff, people in shops, anyone who will listen. He’s not pushy, if he gets any resistance at all, he backs off, but it’s the most natural thing in the world to him.
Two stories in particular stick out for me.
A few years ago, early one morning the phone rang. Dad answered it and a woman asked for someone he didn’t know – a wrong number. As he put the phone down, he got this strong feeling, ‘Ring her back, ring her back’. So, he dialled 1471 and rung her back, not even knowing what he was going to say. He just said simply, ‘I want to tell you that God loves you’.
The woman started crying. Turns out that her sister had died that morning and she was ringing her sister’s best friend to break the news, except she’d mis-dialled and got my dad instead. A coincidence?
Another time, I was travelling a lot with my then employer. I was away on a monthly basis, usually on a flight to somewhere in Africa or Asia. I got home from a trip and dad asked me, ‘Uhm, have you ever been to Pakistan?
‘No’, said I, wondering what this was about.
Turns out, while I’d been away, dad had taken another phone call. He looked at the caller display, saw it was an international number and figured it was me. When he picked it up, a man with a strong accent asked for my dad by name. The man then introduced himself and said he had found my dad’s name and number on a slip of paper, lying on the floor of the hotel in Pakistan, where he worked. The man said he was on his break and wanted to ring, because he wanted to improve his English.
The man asked dad if he was married (uh oh, where was this going?) and dad said, yes he was happily married, but did this guy know about the greatest love of all, a love much bigger than any kind of human love? They ended up having a great conversation, talked about sin, Jesus and forgiveness. The chap listened and said he would try to find a Bible, but most of all he would definitely pray to the ‘Christian God’ that night.
Dad rung me, confused as to how this chap had gotten his number, thinking that I had been somewhere close to Pakistan or had some connection to him. I didn’t and even if I had been anywhere near, why would I be carrying a piece of paper with my dad’s name and number on it? The man had even given Dad the name of the hotel he worked in – I googled it and sure enough, it did exist. If it was a hoax, it was a very good one.
We never got to the bottom of this mystery, but the point is, because my father is willing, God brings the most extraordinary people into his life. Dad will evangelise any moving, breathing thing, from waitresses in restaurants, to the sofa salesman at DFS a few weeks ago, when I was buying new furniture.
Sometimes, I admit, I get embarrassed, but then I realise that he has seen something I haven’t. Through some really dark and times in his life, he has caught a glimpse of Hell and he can’t bear the thought of anyone going there. So, he does everything in his power, to stop that from happening.
My dad is an extra special sort of person. I have always told him everything, warts and all, and I’ve watched him respond with grace and kindness. He’s the sort who just accepts people wherever they are on their journey. He’ll always be honest about God and what He requires of us, but he won’t judge.
But, I suppose because I have grown up with it, I haven’t always acknowledged who he is and all he has done. But, I’m proud that this man is my dad, that I come from strong, amazing, Christian stock, from a bloke who really isn’t ‘ashamed of the Gospel’.
My dad is ace.