Focus on Faith

Phil Collins

The time had come, the moment to renew my cellphone contract, and I was ready to negotiate. I was prepared to speak to my cell phone provider and be confrontational in my approach without being obnoxious.

It was 12 years ago, and I was living in England. A man with a soft singing Irish

accent answered.

“Sir, may I help you.?”

I began my pitch.

“What do you do for work?” he asked.

“I run a charity and build orphanages in Romania.” I said.

He paused and told me he had been placed in an orphanage with the church Fathers in Ireland until he was 16.

He acknowledged that he had rarely been embraced. I asked what had happened when he left them.

“I lived like the devil, sir, wild and dark.”

I discovered he was now 50 and had a seven-year-old boy and had worked in the call centre for a decade. I asked what switched him from living like the devil, thinking he might have had a religious encounter.

“I was 40, lost, so I reached out to my biological mother and decided to visit. I walked into her small terraced house, the smell of despair, the walls dull yellow. I stared at the woman I never knew. As we talked, I watched smoke swirl from her wrinkled lips. She then told me that my father, now dead, had loved me and written me a letter every week of my life. I never got one letter, not one. She told me that the letters had been sent to her to pass on, but she chose not to forward them.

My mum then shuffled off and returned to the dark room with a brown cardboard box, brimming with handwritten letters. I carried the box to my bed and breakfast and slumped on my twin-sized bed. I read and read and cried and read. Emerging two days later. Transformed.”

I was silent on the other end of the phone line, listening, tears brimming.

“For the first time, I knew that I had a father that loved me and reached out by sending me letters full of love, direction, and wisdom. I turned my life around and lived a beautiful new life.”

I asked if I could tell this story, he said of course and asked why.

“Well, there are many spiritual orphans in this world, and God has sent a letter, Jesus, he is a letter from a loving heavenly father.”

After an hour and a half, we prayed, and he provided me with the best cellphone deal.

Dads tell your kids you love them, and church, do not hide the best letter you have, yes, your life as a witness to God’s love, to a struggling world.

Happy Fathers Day.

Phil Collins is Pastor at Willow Park Church Kelowna.