To mark the occasion of my recent wedding, I give this tribute to my dad. I write it as a lesson to fellow preachers' kids, and to any kid who wishes to honour their fathers whilst they live...whilst we all live.
I LOVE FUNERALS, BUT I ALSO HATE THEM. I love funerals because you get to see the life of the departed through the eyes of people who knew them differently. And you can learn a lot of life's lessons from the words shared.
But I hate funerals for the same reason: those words. Because the one person who needed to hear those words can no longer hear them. Those words are of no benefit to him. He may have died thinking no one appreciated him.
I intend not to let my father leave this earth without knowing how much he is appreciated, by me at least. And so with these words, I pay him tribute whilst he lives.
But that same heavenly Father demands that we, the earthly children of our earthly parents, honour them sincerely. And so with these few words I attempt to honour my dad.
My dad, Rev Martin Wayne (seen here with my mum Patenama on their own wedding day), is a simple man. He is as simple as simple can get.
Dad isn't earthly rich. He has hardly owned a brand new car. He's got no permanent house. Nor some small business to sustain him and his family.
His wardrobe is rather small. He's got no financial security. His bank account hardly exceeds four figures on any month. Yet I can't recall any day being with dad that he would not utter the words, "Thank you, Lord." He knew he had more than enough. He was content.
How did he sustain his family all these years? Pure faith and God's amazing Grace.
Dad didn't live in this world. So he didn't have a care for the things of this world, except his family. And the souls of every man, woman and child.
Dad lived in a place where souls mattered most. Ever since he received God's call to serve, dad has never taken a step back. Whether he did it officially as a serving missionary and minister of the Word or as an unemployed house-husband, he would diligently seek ways to serve his master.
Dad has taught countless young people in Religious Education. He loves doing it. We can never know what impact he has had on this nation through his ministry. We don't know how many hours he has spent talking to young people, sowing seeds of hope and faith in their souls.
Countless hours he spends counselling people who are humble enough to seek his help. Countless hours spent preparing and delivering sermons. Now he serves that Master in a time that people who have not heard God's call as clearly as he has, think they can serve better than pastors like him.
In our pursuit of the valuable things in this world we may not have noticed that the truly wealthy men of our times are those who walk on their feet, carrying a back pack, have little in their bank accounts.
Those who fight for the Lord armed with nothing but a helmet of salvation, a belt of truth, a breastplate of righteousness, and the sword of the Spirit. People like my dad.
They wake at 4:30am every day to talk with the one friend they have that's always faithful. They probably tell Him that they're lonely. That they're discouraged because the world doesn't seem to appreciate them, and they can't see themselves being productive for the kingdom. That they're tempted to leave the service so they can earn some money finally, and give their kids a life.
Men like my dad.
Who attend one-man prayer-meetings. Men who preach God's Word every week. Feeding a flock that forgets to say grace. He serves tea and coffee like it was the highest call of man. And he walks the streets praying for the lost souls that pass by. And it seems God decided to remove dad's capacity to hate, and anger and to hold a grudge against any person.
I watched my dad work beside mum. I watched him do the dishes, cook the meals, do the laundry, sweep the floor, iron the clothes and fold them, even attempting to dig a garden despite his bad back.
Once when we needed a home he walked the city of Lae on foot looking for accommodation that his meagre savings could afford. He even scaled a fence because his legs were too tired to walk around the university campus.
I watched him faithfully and patiently serve his wife, my mum, with so much love. He would brave the Highlands Highway every week to be with mum when their respective jobs separated them.
Then he resigned because he'd rather be with mum than earn extra money for the family. Dad didn't have all the money to give his kids everything. But he had all the time to give his kids all the attention they needed.
Mum and dad worked as a great tag-team wrestling team. Because they had a great Coach in the Christ they believed in.
Dad taught me to love my woman, the way he loves his. He taught me to love my family, the way he loves his. He's exemplified humility and meekness such that I can't help but marvel at his inability to think of himself highly.
I know not of any man other than dad, who entitled to say what the apostle Paul said, "Imitate me, as I imitate Christ." But dad would never say it because his humility would not allow it. But also because he doesn't think that he imitates Christ well.
Dad may never get extra letters after his name. No earthly award may be given him. No paper would run an article on men such as him. He is unsung. They won't give him a second glance on the street, because he has no fame. If he passes away they'll be no state funeral, no 21-gun salute, no full-page condolence message in the papers.
If Heaven had a newspaper, it would be front-page! The headline would most likely read: "A general is coming home!" Heaven throw a massive party and sing for joy. The angels would lead him to his mansion. And it would be a million times bigger than the castles and palaces of the kings of this earth.
Dad would finally be served his favourite coffee in a golden mug with the inscribed words, "Good and Faithful Servant". His Lord would most likely visit him every day and they'd look back on his life. And His Lord would tell him, "Well done, well done!"
I hope I have enough words to pay dad the tribute he deserves. But I am a fallible man. One day dad will hear God's perfect opinion...and it will suffice.
I hope I can be at least half the husband to my wife that dad has been to mum. And to be half the father to my children (God willing), that dad has been to my siblings and I.
And I hope I can find the strength to serve the Lord, as faithfully as dad has served Him.
If I can be half the man my dad is, I will have done fine.
Thanks dad, for representing God so well.