Yesterday was Father’s Day. A day to celebrate the gift of Fathers. Mother’s Day is a big deal here, but I didn’t hear a single Ugandan mention Father’s Day. When I started to think about my Ugandan friends, I realised, that in all honesty, there wasn’t much to celebrate. Those who have fathers who are still alive, are mainly absent, or unknown. If known, the relationship isn’t one which brings joy. It felt like yesterday was silent for a reason.
In May, Joe and I helped to facilitate a one day conference for our students at UCC. The topic… The Father’s Heart.
The day comprised of looking at who God the Father is and how our relationship with our earthly fathers impacts our view of God and our relationship with Him. Joe and I were asked to speak on the topic of forgiveness and there was time for sharing and praying each other.
In the group of girls I was with, the things shared would have been utterly shocking in our UK context but there was little emotion or surprise as these precious ladies described the relationship they had, or didn’t have in many cases, with their earthly fathers. The most common story was one of absence. For others of neglect or severe punishment (one girl’s father had her arrested for being disobedient and going ‘dancing,’ she ended up in juvenile detention for three years.) There was an occasional positive story but these seemed few and far between, with the bar set depressingly low.
It was a moving day, and a privilege to be part of, but such a huge topic will no doubt need to be revisited. There is hope though. Hope that the young men attending will see their role differently when it comes to their turn to be fathers and they now have some great role models who can show them there is a different way.
Our dear friend and pastor to our church here, Jimmy, is an incredible father, despite his own heart breaking testimony and experience, he is showing a different way. And my beloved Joe is genuinely a man who shows the Father’s heart each and everyday. He is passionate about his children, and (on the whole 😉 ) “slow to anger and abounding in love”, like our Heavenly Father. Obviously Jimmy and Joe can never fully reflect the love of God, whose love is beyond anything we could ever truly fathom, but they do a least provide a beautiful glimpse of it. Last year for Father’s Day I asked Connie what she loved about Joe so we could write in his card, her response…
“I love Daddy because he enjoys me”
and it’s true, he delights in her. My prayer for these students is that they would know that their Father in heaven delights in them too.