The room was dimly lit and the man sitting across from me that I call Father stared at me through tired eyes that were equally so. Although from afar he looked pretty good for being in his sixties, as you got a closer look you could see all the wrinkles that were earned through the trying, yet rewarding life he had lived so far. We started the conversation making jokes, both trying to hide the nervous tension we very obviously felt, but it was not long before I had asked the first question and he was transported to a different time.
My Father has been a leader in ministry for as long as I can remember. I was used to being called pastor’s kid and missionary kid growing up and I was fairly certain I knew what exactly that meant. I was also fairly certain that I knew enough about him to know who he was and is, but as I have gotten older and looked at our very limited relationship, I suddenly realized I did not know him at all. Watching someone through the lens of your own limited opinion and feelings can only give you so much information about that person. There is nothing quite like sitting down, looking them in the eyes, and talking with them one-on-one. I wanted to know how he came to do what he had always been so passionate about and understand a little bit of why he is that man that he is today.
My questions started with the moment he first felt the desire to be in full time Christian service. His eyes twinkled at this question and I could see some of the exhaustion melt away as he dove into his life story.
“It happened about three or four months after I had gotten saved.” He said confidently. “I had really been seeking after what God wanted for my life and felt Him pushing me toward going to Bible college.”
He then took this moment to rewind a bit and talk about how it was he had gotten saved in the first place.
He had been an only child growing up and home life had not been the greatest. I saw the sadness in his eyes as he talked about how his Mother and Father had divorced not too many years into his childhood, which had been incredibly hard for him. His Father, whom he had been closer to, then moved in with his Grandpa who was not the kindest man in the world. Due to his home-life being so unstable and broken, he temporarily moved in with his cousin, Richard, who was the closest thing he had ever had to a brother. He spent time going between his Grandpa’s house and his cousin’s house as he worked his way through high school and as he neared the end his cousin became a Christian.
He smiled at this point in the story and explained that he had always been a stubborn, go-getter and because he loved his cousin he tried his best to break him back out of his faith. He thought that Richard was misguided and heading down a dangerous path, but it was not long before Richard started studying to face him better and soon had more answers than he had questions. How his cousin lived his life and challenged him impressed him and when Richard went off to college, as he was a year ahead of him, he began looking around for a church. He was bound and determined to get more answers and he eventually settled on a small church called Emanuel Baptist. He admitted to me, with a small chuckle, that this was mainly because he followed a girl he liked there that he had always been impressed by.
“I was a lot like my father,” he said, “but he was better with women than I was.”
He ended up never dating this girl, but the sermons the pastor of that church preached got him to stay and he eventually asked him over to his house so he could grill him. Pastor Frazier was a very loving and patient man who was not afraid of my Father’s questions and it was not long before he was walking an aisle at the church to make a decision of faith.
“He became like a father to me in many ways,” he said, “and he is the one that suggested I go to Piedmont Bible College to pursue ministry.”
I smiled at him and nodded as he said this. I liked how his eyes lit up every time he mentioned what he felt he had been called to do and I understood at that moment that the fact that he felt he had been called to it was what got him to where he was today. He confirmed this thought as he talked about the financial struggles he had in college and having to deal with the passing of his father less than half way through. You could see both pain and determination in his eyes as he told me that sometimes he did not know how he was going to make it through and apart from Richard, he really had no place to go back to if he failed.
“But God was there every step of the way.” He told me as he looked me straight in the eyes.
I could not deny that he truly believed that and looking at his life I have to say, by the end of our conversation, I believed it to. He followed God into marriage, to the mission field, to the pastor-ship of a failing church, all while barely scraping by on a consistent basis. I saw that go-getter he had mentioned earlier in our talk and I also saw the man that believed in God so strongly that he was able to push through his wife’s unexpected death from cancer and enter into another mission field as a leader not but a year after. I finally really saw the man in front of me for who he really was and I could not help but love him for it. Here was a man that I wanted everyone else to know.
Here was the man behind my Father.
This was my first shot at a profile guys. I hope you enjoyed it. I think I like this form of writing and I am going to try and get better at it in the future.