I Have a Father
by Paul Hester

Sitting in between two oceans, Costa Rica's mountains, rain forests, and beaches are truly breathtaking. My early childhood was spent in this beautiful country. Some would call it a paradise, especially for a child. But things aren't always as they seem.

I had been adopted when I was two years old, by parents who never seemed to show any love for each other. When I was five my mom left Dad in Costa Rica and took my younger brother and me to live with her sister in Dunn, NC. After first grade, I don't know what happened, but we all moved back to Costa Rica. Four years later, Mom took my brother and left again.

I always felt closer to Dad, and my brother was closer to Mom. I enjoyed just hanging out with Dad, especially when I got to go to work with him. But when I was visiting my mom and brother a year after they left, she somehow talked me into saying that I would stay with her in North Carolina. I remember regretting my decision right away, especially when she made me call Dad to tell him I wasn't going back to live with him. I felt like I had really betrayed him.

Over the next few years, I talked to Dad on the phone occasionally, and we'd see him about once a year. One day, Mom told us they were getting a divorce.

There went my hopes for a safe, secure, and complete family. For as long as I could remember, my parents never showed any love to each other, and now they were confirming it. Then, in July 1981, while I was waterskiing and enjoying life, we got a call from Costa Rica. My father had killed his girlfriend and another man. Then he turned the gun on himself. The father that I wanted and needed so badly was gone forever.

I was so shocked that I don't remember what I was thinking at the time, but I do remember my life drastically changing. I blamed my mother for everything. I became cold and distant from both her and my brother. I was very rebellious. I started drinking and using drugs. I was immoral and reckless. I became addicted to pornography. I got caught up in everything that would let me escape and forget about my home life. I didn't feel loved at home, so I tried to find love everywhere else. I hung out with the wrong people because I thought they cared about me. I guess I was trying to show everybody that I didn't need a father; that I was in control of my own life and could do whatever I wanted.

The summer after my first year of college, I was fired from my part-time job as an arcade worker. That served as a wakeup call. I was very embarrassed for being fired from such an easy job. The only other summer job I could find was with the city's sanitation department as a garbage man.

Looking back now, I can see specific people in my life that God was using to draw me to Christ.

One of them was Tammy, a girl who was working at the arcade when I was fired. Tammy was a Christian. She bought me a Bible and invited me to attend church with her. I'll never forget the love she showed me. When I was around her I had a real interest in spiritual things. I even stated my belief in Christ, but when we broke up that fall, I went right back to my old way of life. I was like the seed planted in stony ground. But like young plants in such soil, their roots don't go very deep. At first they get along fine, but they wilt as soon as they have problems or are persecuted because they believe the word. Mark 4:17 NLT

A year and half later, I was in a whirlwind of dating in and every girl that would go out with me. But I will never forget that summer night when I met a girl who was so beautiful that I was completely caught off guard. We fell in love, just like in the movies. I knew I was hooked, and two years later I married Jacona Pope.

Jacona got us going to church every weekend. One Sunday morning in January 1989, when the invitation was given, I knew I was lost. As the song "Just as I Am" was playing, I felt God was seeking me. I went to the altar and surrendered my life to Christ. I know without a doubt that He called me and He saved me. Jesus said, "And I, the son of man, have come to seek and save those like him who are lost." Luke 19:10 NLT

From that day my life was different; not perfect, but different. I now have a Father that walks with me and talks with me every day.

I'd like to share something that God did for me since becoming a Christian. He allowed me to meet my birth father after 25 years of being separated. Though we haven't been together as father and son throughout our lives, we are now great friends and are building a close relationship. It's amazing to learn things about my own personality and passions that I acquired from him, even though I never knew him. After a period of not having a father, I now have two fathers. I had to find the one in Heaven before He allowed me to find the one on earth. There is only one way to find our Father in Heaven and to be considered a Child of God. Jesus told him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life, No one can come to the Father except through me" John 14:6 NLT

My lifelong need for a father has been filled and my heart is flooded with joy. Meeting both of my fathers reminds me of the song that goes:

I have a maker
He formed my heart.
Before even time began
My life was in His hands;

I have a father
He calls me his own.
He'll never leave me,
No matter where I go;

He knows my name,
He knows my every thought.
He sees each tear that falls,
And hears me when I call.
Paul Hester with his father, Paul Gandy

It's obvious to me that God had plans for me from the very beginning. It was through finding my birth father that God revealed the purpose of my life and the work He wants me to do. I am now using my passion for computers and the Internet to provide free web hosting for other Christians to share their testimonies and ministries. This ministry is called Witness Today because 1) it is God's desire that all Christians witness and 2) it expresses the importance of witnessing NOW.

Have you found what the purpose of your life is? Have you been concerned about your relationship with God, or do you have questions about your eternal life? If you do not yet know Christ as your Savior, you can pray something like this now:

Dear Father: It's been a long time since we last spoke. I am so ashamed of all my sins. Please forgive me. I believe Jesus died on the cross and arose on the third day to pay for my salvation. I need a relationship with you. Thanks you for saving me. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

Name: _____________________________     Date: ________________

If you prayed this prayer, print, sign and date this tract so you'll always remember when your new life, with peace and joy in Christ, began. It's important to read your Bible every day, find a Bible-believing church and Christian friends, and always share your story about how you Found Your Father. God Bless You!

Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

The Tract Ministry of Central Baptist Church - Dunn, NC
www.cbcdunn.com    910-892-7914