He’s a Good, Good Father
“Two weeks ago I was as close to the edge as one can be. Close to prison, close to death. Bills and responsibilities chasing me as robber. My strength was fading, my focus blurry and my faith withered. I felt as if I was literally in a tornado. I cried out to God for help and Pastor Peter Watts heard my pain and covered my way financially so that I could go to the Siafu men’s retreat.
As we ate breakfast, tears of gratefulness flowed down my eyes. They did not know that I was on my way to ask for a weapon to seek revenge on my enemy. To be in storm on one day, and then to be eating on the mountain top with powerful men of God the next is nothing short of amazing. On this mountain top, I felt like I touched the hem of Jesus’ garment. All this anger and resentment melted away from my heart. I was transformed on that mountain at The Oaks.
After returning from the Siafu men’s retreat I have increased my fellowship with the men's Siafu group at the Rock Church. I am truly blessed to be surrounded with humble, powerful men of God.”
This was the testimony of Coach Luis Clarke, aka Coach Lu. I have come to know Coach Lu over the years through my time at the school where my wife was the principal. He provided mentorship and uniforms to the kids at the local middle school. I’m humbled by his story because it is not uncommon to hear men of color talk of the hard times they have experienced since giving their lives to the Lord after having “run the streets” for so many years.
Coach Lu was born and bred in South Los Angeles. He went to the local high school and because of unfortunate circumstances found himself behind bars as a juvenile. While incarcerated, he gave his life to the Lord and has been serving him ever since. This doesn’t mean that life is a bed of roses for him now. He still has struggles, disappointments, and challenges that he has to overcome as a result of being one of the many returning citizens to our under-resourced communities.
I’m humbled that God would use me as a spiritual father in Coach’s life. Coach is much older than I am—as are a lot of the men that I father in our church. In this context where I serve, I have found our communities need pastors and church planters to serve as spiritual fathers. We have enough mentors. We have mentoring programs all over the country. There’s the boys and girls club, mentors across America, 100 black men; but we don’t have many willing to serve as fathers to those in need.
I’ve discovered that a mentor is one who guides and points out your areas of weakness and lack, but a father is one who comes alongside to help you grow. Many of our men in the city never had a chance to grow up in a healthy environment being cared for by a father. Many of us had to learn from a single mother or from the school of hard knocks. I’m challenged by this men’s retreat to be a significant father in the lives of men. I plan on following Paul’s example in 1 Corinthians 4:15, leading by example so that those who I am fathering can follow. I may not be their earthly father, but I have been given the mantle to father the men in my life, like Coach Lu, through the gospel of Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 4:15
For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. I urge you, then, be imitators of me.