Tribute to my ‘Second Father’
This is not my typical post on this blog. This is raw, straight from the heart and head; from the heart because this is deeply personal and from the head because grammar is the least important to me right now. So if you find any typos, you understand why.
Struck down but not destroyed
Two weeks ago, we were getting ready to travel to Belgium for a speaking event when I received the most terrible news. The man I’d grown up to consider my ‘second father’ had just died… in an absolutely terrible turn of events.
I was broken. I couldn’t cancel my speaking commitments and didn’t tell my wife until two days later.
We had a great time in Ghent and on our return, I was pre-committed to preach in our local church and at a youth leadership forum later that Sunday. Unknown to everyone, including my wife, I was deeply hurting inside.
Looking back, 2 Corinthians 4:9 aptly describes how God held me together —
“…struck down (broken) but not destroyed.”
I became family
14 years ago, I was fatherless, homeless, broke and sleeping rough. Hope was the dream. I was a lost teenager, dejected and struggling to understand my sufferings.
At the start of 2000, a stranger in my local church heard my story and over time embraced me into his life, into his family, into his world. I spent the 3 years that followed working for and living with his family.
I mean, who takes a completely lost teenager he’s never met before into his home?
He became a father figure to me and played a key role in helping me pursue my academic dreams in the UK. I was no longer a stranger; I’d become family! I’m still family.
Tribute to ‘my second father’
If writing this post felt unreal, writing a tribute that was read by the packed audience at his burial last week was even more heartbreaking:
Writing these words break my heart and feel so unreal. Words fail me. Oh, how much words fail me to describe the pain of your loss. Life is indeed a vapour. Here today. Gone tomorrow. But your life shaped that of many.
14 years ago, you embraced a fatherless, homeless and hopeless teenage stranger into your life, into your world and into your home. You made me part of your family and I will be eternally grateful to you for giving me hope. Your relentless firmness and character changed my life, and made me the man I’ve become. You became to me the father I never had since I was 13.
Living with and working for you, I saw your passion for God, your unending zeal to help others, your courage to face challenges and your commitment to your family. Many a times while riding home together after our busy days in the office, you shared with me your own incredible and personal story of grass to grace. You had your fair share of challenges but you overcame every one of them. You conquered all. Fearless. Unbelievably fearless.
Today, we are broken. But we are reassured you fought the good fight of faith to the end, you contended for the faith to the end, you kept the faith to the end. As a family, we stand together to remember and celebrate your life and service.
But we will miss you so much. I will miss you, my second father. I will miss hearing you say: “Olorun a fun wa se” (God will help us). I will miss your voice, your laughter and your prayers.
I find confidence in God’s word that assures us you’re in glory with Christ. You’re not dead; sleep and rest in the Lord.
Your son (in the Lord)
My wife has been rock solid throughout what has been a difficult two weeks on many fronts. I’m ever so grateful to God for placing such a solid character in my life.
In all, we’ve experienced the ministry of the Holy Spirit in some awesome ways — and people can hardly tell anything was going on in our lives. I’m grateful for your prayers.
Question: How do you deal with sudden news of personal loss?
Image courtesy of Milo Baumgartner | Flickr