I never met my biological father. He was looking forward to meeting me, but was murdered less than two months before I was born.
This isn’t a story I tell often, but for Father’s Day, it’s worth sharing.
My father, Dwight David Goodman (known as Dave to his friends), was a missionary in Turkey.
One day in early June, gunmen knocked at the door of the apartment where he lived with my mom – who was very pregnant with me at the time – and shot him multiple times.
Mom was in the bedroom and somehow remained silent during the shooting. If she had made a sound, chances are I wouldn’t be here. There was nothing else she could do. After the murderers left, she cradled my dying father in her arms until an ambulance came. She never saw him alive again.
But his legacy lives on.
My father was a talented musician, and the hymns he wrote in Turkish are sung across Turkey in churches every Sunday.
And Turkish believers still hold an annual memorial beside his grave on the anniversary of his death almost 40 years after the event.
Devastated after the murder, my mom returned to the states where I was born.
She later met and later married my stepdad Bill, who was then an elder/pastor at a little local church. I grew up with him as my dad – and he is a great dad. He’s the one who built my first garden, taught me to write well, taught me the scriptures and officiated as pastor at my wedding.
Without him, I wouldn’t be the man I am today.
As he raised me, he also respected my heritage and actively kept me involved with my biological father’s half of the family.
Our entire society beats up dads these days. They’re either portrayed as idiots (Homer Simpson) or evil, or deadbeats.
How many times have you heard the term “absentee father?”
Sure, some dads run away… but many, many moms run away from good men and take the children when they run, then stick the dad for child support on kids he rarely gets to see.
There is plenty of sin to go around.
Yet on Mother’s Day we hear nice things about moms… and on Father’s day we hear about how dads just aren’t cutting the mustard anymore.
Dad taught me to control my emotions and hold it together when I was sad or angry. This is strength – the masculine strength of self-control – and I thank him for it. He taught me to use logic and to “walk like I owned the place.” He taught me to seek out a good woman for my wife and to loathe divorce as the evil it is. He helped me sign up for college classes. He drove with me all the way to Tennessee when I took my first job far from home. I hated to see him leave that day – it was like losing my anchor.
I have two legacies: a father who was a martyr for Christ and a father who also sacrificed himself for what he believed in, living each day for God and his family and adopting me in as his own son.
Now that I am a dad myself, I know what it costs to raise a family. I’ve shopped for diapers and oatmeal late at night, taken care of vomiting children, bandaged bruised knees and told my kids to be tough when they need to be tough.
It’s not an easy road being a father but it is a road I am blessed to walk.
God bless all you dads out there. Keep fighting the good fight. You are needed and appreciated.
* * *
“Hear a just cause, O Lord,
Attend to my cry;
Give ear to my prayer which is not from deceitful lips.
Let my vindication come from Your presence;
Let Your eyes look on the things that are upright.
You have tested my heart;
You have visited me in the night;
You have tried me and have found nothing;
I have purposed that my mouth shall not transgress.
Concerning the works of men,
By the word of Your lips,
I have kept away from the paths of the destroyer.
Uphold my steps in Your paths,
That my footsteps may not slip.
I have called upon You, for You will hear me, O God;
Incline Your ear to me, and hear my speech.
Show Your marvelous lovingkindness by Your right hand,
O You who save those who trust in You
From those who rise up against them.
Keep me as the apple of Your eye;
Hide me under the shadow of Your wings,
From the wicked who oppress me,
From my deadly enemies who surround me.
They have closed up their fat hearts;
With their mouths they speak proudly.
They have now surrounded us in our steps;
They have set their eyes, crouching down to the earth,
As a lion is eager to tear his prey,
And like a young lion lurking in secret places.
Arise, O Lord,
Confront him, cast him down;
Deliver my life from the wicked with Your sword,
With Your hand from men, O Lord,
From men of the world who have their portion in this life,
And whose belly You fill with Your hidden treasure.
They are satisfied with children,
And leave the rest of their possession for their babes.
As for me, I will see Your face in righteousness;
I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness.”
*Image at top via The Graphics Fairy