Most people know that my younger sister and I grew up without a father by our side. Growing up, I held on to the conclusion that my mom and dad broke up because of personality differences or unfavorable circumstances. But later on, I realized that my mom and dad’s marriage did not work out the way God intended it to be because Jesus was not in the center of their relationship.
Most people find stories like this as devastating not only to the parent who will take on the responsibility of a mom and dad, but most especially to the kids who will grow up adapting to the separation. Several studies in psychology and humanities conclude that aggressiveness, submissiveness, loneliness, stress and depression are the common problems of children growing up in a single-parent family.
In my case, I grew up in a home filled with emotionally unstable individuals. So eventually, I tried to find my security in other people and my identity on the things I can do well. But when Jesus came into my life, I realized that I can be complete in Him and I was never fatherless (Psalm 68:5) because my Father in Heaven remains faithful even in the midst of consequences and discipline brought about by our poor life choices.
When I first received the challenge and command to share the gospel to the people I have compassion for, my mom and sister were on top of the list. Next on the list were my close friends in high school and college, and so on. I did not consider my father in the list because there was bitterness in my heart. I murdered him in my head thinking he does not deserve to have eternal life.
Eventually, God softened my hardened heart. He encouraged me to share who Jesus is to my father. Jesus came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10) – the word that best describes not just my father but everyone including myself. I could not justify my bitterness before the Lord because I am also a sinner unworthy of His grace and mercy.
So around July of 2015, I looked for a way to meet my father in person. I searched the name of one of my half-siblings on Facebook, and bravely private messaged her to ask for my dad’s number. I am thankful use becashe gave it to me with no questions asked. I texted my father and asked him if I can meet him. By God’s grace, he accepted my invitation.
When I saw my father entering the door of our meeting place, instead of feeling scared and annoyed, my heart crumbled out of sympathy. He seemed so different from the dad I knew when I was six years old – physically and financially. When I asked him how he is, he said he was fine. But when he started sharing to me the highlights of his life for the past decade, my heart crumbled out of sympathy even more.
Everything was taken away from him, and many of his poor choices led to generations of sons and grandsons making other poor choices. So he resorted to the conclusion that there is no such thing as a loving God.
When I asked him why he concluded such, he shared to me his religious background. He went to a Catholic seminary when he was young and realized that the doctrines were foolish so he got out of the seminary. My father eventually resorted to the logical and observable faces of realities – but taking away God in the picture.
Since then, my father followed and lived for the things he believed and wanted. Then along the way, he experienced sufferings. He then asked me: If we have a loving and forgiving God why would He allow sufferings or bring people to hell?
My heart sank not because I did not know how to answer, but because of the hopelessness I felt from him when he said that.
I asked if I can share to him the gospel. He was hesitant at first but I am thankful he still said yes. While I was sharing, my dad would constantly cut me just so he could express how much he disagrees with what I was saying. I gently told him to give me a few minutes to finish first then I will answer all his questions afterwards. By God’s grace, I was able to finish sharing the gospel to him without any further interruption.
I assured him that Jesus is not a religion. I shared to him that Jesus is the Son of God; that He died for our sins and rose again to set us free. I shared to him that Jesus is the only one who can save us from eternal damnation and restore the broken relationship we have with God. I told him that we are sinners unworthy of Heaven but it is Jesus who justified us before God. However, there is a decision we have to make: We have to open the doors of our hearts and accept Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior.
Unfortunately, my father decided to say, “No”. He did not accept Jesus in his life.
Though I still probed where he is coming from, I did not try to convince him to change his mind. I have no power to do that for it is only the Holy Spirit who knows all things even the deep things of God (1 Corinthians 2:10-16). I also believe that God’s word will never return to Him empty (Isaiah 55:11). So I asked him if I can pray for him instead.
Even though this saddened me, I still praise the Lord for the opportunity to see my father in person, share who Jesus is to him and pray for/with him. His refusal to accept Jesus in his heart is just another reason why I should pray for him even more.
It has been about two years since I met up with and shared the gospel to my atheist father. Today, I am still hoping for a change of heart.