I always wanted to write the story of my life. I believe it would be a bestseller. I also believe it would fit into an action-drama-comedy-tragedy-horror-thriller genre. Maybe even a script for a Bollywood movie! But I never thought I would write my dad’s life story before mine.
I want to introduce Stanislaus Mohan Noel, my dad. He is 74 now. He grew up with two brothers and three sisters. He was part of a very staunch Catholic upbringing. He was one to never back down when it came to serving at church, using all his talents and skills. He served in the Legion of Mary, sang in the choir, and put up the nativity scene at church and home during Christmas. He was a model member of the Catholic Church, always respecting the clergy.
At age 25, he married my mom, who was 15 at the time. That was 50 years ago. They had three children, of whom I am the last and only son. My dad and mom separated after living together for 16years. It was not a divorce or a legal separation. One day my mom moved out, with all three kids, to her mother’s house. She had found out earlier that day that my dad had been married to another woman for a while.
It took the next 30 years and many miraculous events from God for them to come together and live under the same roof again. After being separated for 30 years, things were rusty and challenging. It was like trying to find out about total strangers. During this time I was praying for a miracle that my dad would become a disciple of Jesus Christ. There were times he studied the Bible and almost made it. But it was not to be, not yet.
In October 2017, Dad had a stroke. It was mild yet quite effective in draining out his physical and mental strength. He was quite unable to take care of himself. My mother stepped in, being the one who always loves to serve. She took care of him 24/7 and was there for him. She also encouraged him to study the Bible. His vision was failing, so she read the Bible to him.
During January of this year, we asked our sons Clyde (19) and Noah (18) to initiate Bible studies with him. They shared from Acts 17 and inspired him to seek God. Dad called me that evening and said, “Since I was proud in past, God has humbled me to learn from my grandsons. It was very encouraging; I am ready to study further.”
Encouraged by this, I and Pearly (my wife) requested Alex, a brother who is close to our family and who lives near my parent’s place, to teach the word of God to him. He was willing. This time around God moved my dad’s heart to such an extent that he now knew the true living God and wanted to be reconciled with him, more than anything else.
While he was continuing to study the Bible, Dad had an episode of convulsion triggered by hypertension. That was the day he had called me over phone and said, “I am sorry son, for not being there for you as a father. Will you forgive me?” I assured him I had, long ago when I became a disciple. But those thoughts had set him on a guilt trip, I think, resulting in the hypertension and the convulsions. On having a CT scan done, doctors found that his symptoms were age-related. So the advice from the doctor was to care for him at home and make him comfortable.
The day of my dad’s baptism was incredible. Since he could not bend his knees, the disciples came up with a creative method to baptize him. My dear friend Nathan suggested we use a tarpaulin (waterproof) sheet and fill it with water. So the entire family group came together, held the sheet from all sides and started filling it with water. After filling it a bit, Dad was brought in along with me and Noah, my younger son. We lay him horizontally inside, holding his head all the while. After the baptism statements; the entire group brought the sheet from the sides to have the water engulf him while he was immersed and baptized! His baptism was streamed live on Facebook to share with others.
He told me later that he was scared at that moment. Post-baptism, while the group was singing, “I have decided to follow Jesus,” my dad started dancing! This was a sight I had never seen!
After his baptism, he shared to the entire group was about how wrong he had been all his life without knowing God. Now that he was learning from God’s word, he realized how wrong he had been about his wife. He apologized to her for not having understood her and was very happy to be with her. He gave her a hug in front of all of us.
I had been longing for such a day. It strengthened my faith and hope. If we continue to share the word of God to people around us, on the day stipulated by God, when their time comes, they will turn to him.
My Dad did. Yours can too.
Remember Genesis 18:14 , where God asks of Abraham, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?”