My father passed away on June 22, 2010, two days after Father’s Day. Through odd circumstances I happened to celebrate Father’s Day with my father early this year. We happened to visit my mom and dad three weeks before. I was so glad that I had not waited but had for once in my life been early.
At his funeral three of my siblings and I gave a tribute to his life. Here is what I shared.
Galatians 2: 20 was my father’s life verse, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body is by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave his life for me.”
So really my dad died a long time ago. He only died physically on Tuesday morning. How do I know that my dad died way before I was born so that Christ, and only Christ, could live in him? I saw and heard it in many ways all of my life.
My dad was always going to dangerous places to see the Kingdom grow. He did not count any personal cost as too much.
When my father arrived in Taiwan, as a young missionary, he learned that there was a congregation of 200 Chinese without a church so he decided to help them build one. There was one problem. The Chinese lived on a small island off the coast of Taiwan, called Matsu. This island was bombed daily by mainland China. He had to go under the cover of darkness by boat to meet with them. When my mother asked how she would know if he made it or not he replied, she wouldn’t. She would not know until he returned, if he returned.
I remember going into China with him, watching him nonchalantly mail different white packages in mail boxes around the city, delivering Bibles and gospel tapes to Christians who had no way to secure these materials under the communist rule. It was a risk that he was glad to take.
We lived in the jungles of Malaysia when I was 8, a place where communists lurked in the jungles. I thought the greatest threat in the dense rain forests were some wild cats that were heard cry in the night, living across the lane from our house. I only just learned that there were also communists who roamed with loaded guns seeking hostages. In these same jungles Dad would take us, through rubber plantations, out to where there were long houses where the Dyak people lived. There had been an amazing revival among these people and Dad went to encourage them and minister to them.
When he went up to Myanmar he was the first white man the Methodists there had seen in 30 years. He smuggled out gospel messages that could be broadcasted by Trans World Radio back into that closed country.
But he did not have to go to the most jungly place or huge cities like Taipei, Hong Kong or Singapore to feel used by the Lord. When the doors closed to Asia Dad happily went to Ohio to expand the Kingdom there.
He never resisted where God led him. He did it joyfully. How do I know that? He was so much fun. He loved games. He loved mysteries. So I have grown to love them too. He loved words. All my siblings love words. He would invent limericks for the sheer pleasure of playing with words. I still invent them for fun. He loved to laugh. He was always smiling and that laugh was always near the surface. I will miss that the most because it came from a joyful crucified heart.
It has been easy for me to crave that kind of a life. It is the only one that holds any attraction for me. If I begin to think of the cost and begin to fear the unknown it is helpful for me to look to my Dad’s life and the life of my mother’s to know that He is faithful until the end.