I grew up in a two parent household until I was in the 2nd grade. I'm 44 years old now and hadn't seen my father in over 30 years. Not having a father in your life brings about some internal and emotional issues that only God can heal. We often read the parable in the gospels about the prodigal or wayward son. What happens when you have a "Prodigal Father" who has left his family looking for what he thinks is a better life? Well, let me share with you my story of redemption.
My father was my world. He took care of my mother, younger sister and me on his income as a business owner and entrepreneur. In the early '70s families in the black community were falling apart. Drugs hit the scene and people were experimenting and getting hooked. It seemed my family was no exception. My dad got hooked on drugs and began exhibiting behaviors of violence and instability that my mother would not accept. In her strength, she took my sister and I and fled to Los Angeles where we lived with my grandparents.
Throughout those early years of elementary school, I had little contact with my father. He would often visit but not for long periods of time. There were times when he would show up to the house high on Cocaine and PCP and would literally pull a gun out on my mother and kidnap me and take me back to his house in Inglewood. After he would come down from his high he would be regretful and take me back home to my mother. I was traumatized by these events, which happened on more than one occasion. Soon he stopped coming by and stopped calling. I was in the 4th grade when I last had contact with him. At that point I gave up on him and moved forward in my life.
Once I got married and had children, I found myself making a commitment to be the father that my father wasn't to me. I had to go to my Heavenly Father for guidance on how to be a good dad. I know that it was the Spirit of the Lord that has always helped me to be the best image of a loving father to my own children.
Fast forward some 30+ years later and I find myself in a whirlwind of emotions. In the middle of meeting with a few local pastors, I received a message from one of my church members with information and a phone number for California Hospital that said "Call Immediately." I didn't understand what was happening. When I called the number I spoke with a social worker and nurse who asked me if my name was Peter Watts and if I pastored a church in Los Angeles. I replied yes and she said, "Well sir I think we may have someone that you have been looking for. We believe we have your father whose name is Peter Watts." I was floored! She continued and said, "We asked him if he had any next of kin and he said I have a son that pastors a church in Los Angeles." The staff googled my name and found my information on the internet and reached out to me.
I was overwhelmed with emotions as I abruptly left my meeting scurrying down the 110 Freeway to get to see my father Peter Watts, Sr. I had been looking for him for years. I had last heard he was on Skid Row—just months prior I had gone down there to look for him. I don't know what God may do with this, but I am willing to walk into the uncertainty of the future.
The strange thing about all of this is the fact that I don't care about what he did to me or my mother in the past. I don't care about all the years that he missed. I don't care about the Christmas gifts, birthdays, births and graduations that he missed. I don't care about the wedding that he didn't get to attend.
At this moment, all I want him to know is that I love him and that God loves him even more.
June 3, 2017 | Alex Murashko
Thank you so much for sharing this story here and at TogetherLA.net! God loves you!