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Well, Father’s Day is upon us. Those of you have living dads are no doubt scrambling what to get them for Father’s Day. Socks? Golf clubs? A card? As a father, let me say to my children what I say every year. “Don’t get me anything.’’ Either show up at my door, give me a call or write me a card. Just knowing that you love me means everything. Another pair of socks? Not so much!

My father passed into the presence of Jesus in 2009. He died full of faith and confidence in his God. One of the greatest gifts he gave me happened at the end as I watched him die. He told me that he had often been at the bedside of friends who had died before him, and some of them struggled with faith. Dad told me that God had given him a wonderful gift. He told me he doubted none of God’s promises. He was confident that all was true when he was but moments from passing into the presence of God. Watching him die has taken away my fear of my own death. Thanks, Dad!

My mother and father came to Canada in 1954. They were both born in the former Soviet Union. They escaped Communism and the persecution that had taken my dad’s dad, when my dad was but just 14 years old. As the German troops were being pushed out of Russia, my parents – then not married – escaped with their families and made it to Germany only in time for it to be bombed to the ground. In his journal, dad spoke of those days and how he daily witnessed death.

After the war, Dad and Mom got married and lived in Germany for 10 years. They then saw an opportunity in Canada and moved there. In time, I was to be their first Canadian baby, as I have two older siblings born in Germany.

When I was in my late 20s, I was married and studying in southern California. Dad and Mom came to visit, and one day, outside of our small condo, I found Dad standing alone with tears streaming from his eyes. I was shocked and wanted to know what was wrong.

When the persecution and brutality of Communist Russia was felt everywhere, Dad remembers his uncle. He had escaped, made his way to California and ended up teaching in the linguistics department in a California university. The letters from California reminded Dad of something he could never have: Freedom and prosperity. But on that day when my parents visited me and Dad was weeping, he told me what was in his heart. He said that he was now standing in the very place where he thought he would never stand, and that his son was studying there in perfect freedom.

And with that, Dad taught me of the kindness, graciousness and boundless mercy of the God he loved with all his heart. I have not forgotten that day.

And so, its Father’s Day, a day when we reflect on the Father’s that our God has given us. My overwhelming thought is this: The greatest gift my Father every gave me, was a deep and profound sense of gratefulness for the mercy of God. And so, even though he has now been gone for 7 years, if I could, I would say, “Thanks Dad, for taking the time to help me to remember that all things come from the mercy and grace of a loving God.”

Dr. John Neufeld

Dr. John Neufeld

Dr. John Neufeld is the national Bible teacher at Back to the Bible Canada. He has served as Senior Pastor, church planter, conference speaker and educator, and is known both nationally and internationally for his passion and excellence in expositional preaching and teaching.

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