My father gave me the best gift a father could give to a daughter.
To this day, people benefit from his decision to use his gifts, talents, and abilities to care for others. A man I have never met, wept on the phone when he talked to me. He wept out of gratitude for what my father had done for him and his tribe.
Over 60 years ago, my father heard the voice of God. In obedience to God’s voice, he took his young wife and two little girls into the jungle of Africa. The people there nicknamed them Mama and Papa Obedience.
When he arrived in the Congo, he spent hours and hours first learning the language. Then he worked with a team to translate the Bible into the native tongue. He completed the project before he left the mission station.
Fifty years later, I talked to a grandson of one of the men of that tribe. I won’t go into the miraculous details of how the phone conversation happened.
He thanked me profusely for the work my father did. He wept, and I wept as he shared. “I have the Bible in my language today because of what your father did. How wonderful it is to be able to read the Bible in my own native language. My whole tribe is able to enjoy reading the Bible because of your father’s work.”
I remember the hardship, the incredible difficulties, and the life-threatening adversities growing up in Africa. At one point we had to evacuate when our lives were threatened. We ended up losing everything we owned.
But overriding all the challenges, my dad’s example lives on in my heart.
One of my favorite images of my father is the way he spent his spare time. I remember him walking around the house with Bible verses on cards in his hand. The Navigator’s discipleship program taught him to do this. When he drove, he kept those cards with the verses close to review them on long trips.
To this day, I love and memorize the Word of God. I am always reviewing old favorites and memorizing new Bible verses. I used to use 3 x 5 cards but now I use Scripture Typer, an awesome app.
My dad didn’t use words much. I had a broken relationship with him in my teens, but by his actions, he showed me what was important in life.
My dad gave me the best gift, a legacy of a man who purposed to love God, others and to highly esteem the Word of God.
He made mistakes, and I have made mistakes, some more serious than others, but I keep coming back to what my father modeled for me. I do my best to love God, care for others, focus on work that will last for eternity as well as memorize and meditate on the Word of God.
So today, Dad, I honor you and thank you for teaching me what is important in life! I look forward to seeing you someday when I arrive in heaven. We’ll have all those conversations I longed for in the light of how God redeems even our mistakes and works them out for good.
In the meantime, I write my tribute to you. I honor you by focusing on the things you valued the most. I am deeply grateful for the best gift you gave me.
“All men are like grass and their glory like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fall but the word of the Lord endures forever.” I Peter 1:24, 25