It was as a teenager that I first learned about the need to be saved and have my sins forgiven at a youth meeting of a local church. I had been invited by a friend and since I had no other plans it seemed like a good idea. My family did not go to church, but they were good moral people. Mom was pleased that I was hanging out with a good group of friends and Dad’s only concern was that I did not neglect my chores. Neither of them were interested in hearing much about the Gospel, although Mom did seem listen with ears of conviction. My Senior year was full of excitement and anticipation of the future. Mom talked about college and Dad moaned that he would lose his farm hand. There was several years between me and my youngest brother and my sisters were not able to help with the physical work. It was decided that I would attend a local college so that I could continue to help my Dad on the farm. I was kind of glad in a way, because my Mom was the best cook in the county. She won many ribbons at the local fair for her baked goods. Then came the unexpected. I really enjoyed history and had planned on making that my major and getting a minor in teaching. That was all going to change.
One evening after church my Pastor came to me. We had been having evangelistic meetings and he wanted to personally introduce me to one of the speakers. He was an older man who served the Lord in Australia. He and his family wanted to have a teen camp that summer and he wanted to know if I would come and help. Emotions ran rapid in my mind……got to think….Dad needed my help on the farm. Fortunatley the camp was to be held after planting season and before harvest. It would be like a mini vacation. Having worked with the young people in my church had given me the experience needed for such an endeavor……….hmmm. the money! ……………..the money! The three of us chatted for a while longer and as we parted, the Missionary asked me to just pray about the request and if it was God’s will, He would provide the necessary finances. It was God’s will, He did provide the money, and I went.
Family dinners on the farm were awesome and this time it was no different. My parents seemed older, and my siblings were growing up before my eyes, but the laughter and conversation during the meal were a delight. My Dad was an observant man, he could tell if ole Bessy was ill before symptoms appeared. I was not ignorant of his questioning glances toward me and it made me uneasy. There was something that I needed to tell the family and I was waiting for the right opportunity. “Son, is there something on your mind?” How did he know?
As I shared with my family that the Lord had called me to the mission field there was a breathless quietness that filled the old country dining room. All eyes were on Dad. No one said a word.
Many years have passed since that evening. The opportunities for me to return to the States were few and far between. The Lord blessed and a lady at the church had befriended Mom and was able to lead her to the Lord. Fortunatley I was able to come home for the funeral, but Dad hardly spoke a word. We were faithful in writing but he never answered. There were times when Satan really tried to discourage me, to make me feel guilty about not being home with my Dad in his old age. It was an ever ending battle and I persistently and fervently prayed for my Dad’s salvation.
Then one day Dad called: “Son, aren’t you ever going to come home?” Those words rent a fiery wound to my heart. I was literally crushed. We serve such a wonderful and all knowing God and He was acutely aware that the phone call was coming. That very same day we received a letter from the Mission Board that they wanted us to come and disciple some folk who were wanting to go to the Mission Field. It was a relatively new program and we were their first seasoned missionaries to participate We would be in the States about a month and inclosed in the envelope were two airline tickets.
The reunion with Dad was somewhat tense at the beginning. My younger brother and his wife had moved in with him and were managing the farm. The dinner table was set with all the favorite foods that Mom always prepared. Dad looked at me with tears in his eyes and said “Son, it is good to have you home, Will you ask God to bless the food? ” Two days later while we were working on the old John Deere tractor, I was able to lead my Dad to the Lord.
My wife and I were so thankful to be home. It was the harvest season and God had reaped the soul of my Dad. After I shared this with the budding missionaries a week later, I was handed a note. by the Director………. Call home!
It was the most difficult funeral that I had ever presided over, yet it was also a time of rejoicing. Three souls were saved that day as I shared my Dad’s salvation story with them. Two of them were my siblings.