I was travelling through Queensland a few weeks ago opening new Dads in Distress groups, and was convening a meeting that was being held in the back of a new church that had been established in an industrial estate.

It was a new meeting and so we didn’t know what to expect, how many would turn up or what would happen. As I sat there at the back of this huge church, I noticed a lot of the building was still under renovation with electrical wiring, roofing, flooring all still unfinished.

As time rolled on, a few guys turned up, a little disappointing but that happens sometimes, and so we continued. As I was sitting there listening to these guys share their stories amid the tears, I thanked God for allowing me to be so fortunate as to be in a position of being able to offer some support to these men.

While we were sharing, there was this one young man who was listening intently to every word that was spoken. I caught a tear in his eye on a few occasions and wondered what his story was. I didn’t have to wait long. When the others finished sharing, this young man was given the rock and began to share his story.

He spoke in a soft, sincere and very sad tone. “I am amazed at what I have heard here tonight,” he said.

“Here I am sitting amongst you fathers who are distraught at not seeing your children enough or at all. You want to be with your children. You are crying for your children. You are grieving for your children.

I honour you. I came from a place where my father didn’t want me. I came from a place where I received a backhander rather than a cuddle. I came from a place where I was kicked out on the street following my brothers before me, as soon as I was old enough.

My father was alcoholic, abusive and drug-addicted, and saw his kids as a burden. I would look forward to a belting every night he would come home drunk. There was never much food or clothes, because his addictions came first and we were just a burden to him. There was no love, there were no cuddles and there were no birthdays, just total disdain.

Until tonight, I didn’t realise there were real men who love, care and miss their children as you guys have shown me tonight. I honour you. I don’t know what it’s like to have someone care for you like that.”

He then began to cry.

We all sat around this young man in total silence when he finished, and I believe we all shared in his pain. I don’t believe any of us were not affected by this meeting. I think we all took a little of this young man’s story with us.

I said to him as we were leaving that he now has many dads, and that he is welcome back as long as he wants to keep coming, and I thanked him for his courage.

And you know what? As I drove back to my motel, I cried, I howled, I let go as if someone had turned on the tap, and I thanked God for allowing me to be part of this young man’s life, even if only for an hour.

In the back of a half-finished church somewhere in Queensland, God deems fit to teach me another humble lesson in life.

[Photo by Paul Castanié on Unsplash]
Published On: June 12th, 20050 CommentsTags: , , , , , , ,

About the Author: Tony Miller

Tony Miller was awarded the Order of Australia Medal in the 2010 Queen's Birthday honors list 'For service to the community through the provision of support services for separated families'.

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