My step-dad is one of the most inspirational people I know with an unshakeable faith. During my most difficult moments of my adulthood, he was a fountain of wisdom and encouragement. I feel truly blessed to be able to call this man my dad who is not loved by me, but by the hundreds if not thousands of people who he has helped. But it was not always like this. My relationship with him as a child was complicated and at times very hurtful. Back then I would have never imagined that my step-dad would become the man he is today. But back then, I didn’t understand that my dad could be a man transformed by Jesus.
The Man I Grew Up With
As a child, my dad was a man that I feared. I loved him, but it was love that needed distance. He was an alcoholic and later I would learn, also a drug user. That made his behavior erratic and towards the latter part of my childhood, violent. His love for me was obvious and he never physicallly hurt me and in many ways I was utterly spoiled by him. But I witnessed the verbal and physical abuse towards my mom and the unfair treatment towards my brother. My dad was very hard on him, many times making him work long intensive hours while my sisters and I could do whatever we pleased. It took years for my brother to begin to heal from the wounds my dad had created. Despite how good he was to me, that all made me really dislike him. I got tired of it and I remember asking my mom for us to leave him. She refused.
When He Met God
Many years later, when I was already in college, my dad had a supernatural encounter that changed him forever. After a night of drunken stupor, my mother and little brother dragged him to my little brother’s room. He quickly fell asleep, but in the middle of the night, he was awakened by an incredibly bright light. Nothing was said, but in that moment, my dad felt complete fulfillment. It was a feeling he could not fully explain, but he knew it was God. The next morning, he took the whole family to church and a few days later he gave his life to Jesus. He has not drank a sip of alchohol (or touched drugs) since then.
Today, he is a much different man than the one I grew up with. He is the head pastor of New Vision Community Church in Laredo, TX. His mannerisms are the same. He still has that look when he is upset, but I no longer fear him. He is definitely not perfect, but who he is in Christ inspires me. He loves people and is incredibly kind. He leads by serving and giving of himself and his been such a source of encouragement to my mom and my brother and I.
A Servant’s Heart
One of my dad’s role within his church, other than the sermons he does weekly, is to council individuals one on one. But my dad has been more than just someone that provides great advice to troubled people. No, he has been instrumental in helping them heal from their deep-seated wounds. For example, he has helped alcoholics stop drinking. He has helped drug users overcome their addiction. He has helped men and women that were sexually abused heal from their pain. Ultimately it is God that works through my dad to heal the brokenhearted, but my dad has answered the call in a way few have been able to.
And these individuals are not just the members of his congregation. I think most of them are people that he meets throughout the course of his day. The delivery guy or the manager of a business he frequents. These are people that were not seeking help. They were just going around their every day routine never suspecting that today they would meet someone that would show them how God would finally heal their wounds.
My dad’s faith is unwavering and I have called him in the middle of the night when fear has gripped me because of stress, anxiety, or illness. I have found his unwavering faith and many prayers to be such a anchor in my life. He isn’t perfect, but he loves God and he is bold enough to approach perfect strangers in attempt to not just give them hope, but tangibly make something special happen to them that day. And for that, I am proud of him and thankful that he is my dad.