The Perkins Perspective | Features | Autumn 2013
Stand as My Father Stood
By Ezechiel “Zeke” Bambolo Jr.
Ezechiel Bambolo Sr. (left) and his son, Zeke Bambolo Jr., at about the time of this incident.
It was a warm and humid afternoon, and uncertainty had draped incredible tension upon our home and family. Earlier that morning, or possibly a day before, the rumor reached our family about a rebel commander in route to execute (kill) my father. If we attempted to escape from the vicinity, which was fully surrounded by rebel soldiers who knew us well, we would only further deepen and validate the false accusation he was charged with.
Indeed, the rebel commander arrived, and he summoned my father out to our front yard for a makeshift interrogation and subsequent execution. This rebel was known as a fearless, sinister (witchcraft), and ruthless killer. He put a silver pistol upon the forehead of my father while we all watched helplessly. He pulled the trigger and the pin fires and we all flinch ― but the bullet did not go off.
Immediately the rebel, astonished, began pleading for mercy and friendship from my father. From the rebel’s point of view, my father possessed stronger witchcraft than he did.
I was a teenager then, and I'd spent all my years observing my father’s qualities of integrity, work ethic, sacrificial leadership, and unwavering conviction (James 1:5-8). I had seen an exemplary husband and father who, moments before this incident, stood with his arms spread wide praying for deliverance ― and God delivered. That day I vowed to stand as my father stood.
Often when we read or hear about the ravaging cultural concern of fatherless homes or children, the conversation is tackled from the aspect of a negative or adverse origin. Permit me to break the mold for you this time around.
In Praise of Fathers
I was a teenage boy stumbling through the daily dangers and atrocities of a West African civil war, with all its drugs, murders, inhumane acts, and more. Yet in that lowest demise of a civil society, nothing served me better than God’s provision of my remarkable earthly father.
Today we have diminished the value of masculinity and fatherhood in the Western culture, often replacing it with the likes of the television character Al Bundy. Today many ask, “What can be so powerful about having a father-led as opposed to a fatherless culture?”
I do not dare discount the highly documented impact on the culture by fatherless homes ― incarcerated youth, suicide victims, teenage pregnancies, births by unmarried women, poverty, and so much more. The impact of absent or passive fathers on society is paramount and inescapable. However, I’d rather acknowledge the God-ordained benefits of a father-led society.
Here are some simple but unequivocal truths and societal cornerstones assured by a healthy father-led culture:
- Fathers naturally, and in most instances nonverbally, establish and propagate a legacy of calm, safety, and confidence within their dependents who just know “Dad is there.”
- Healthy fathers protect, eliminating destructive elements that infiltrate familial boundaries.
- Healthy fathers provide a measure of accountability and discipline within familial interaction.
- Fathers are a natural link to predecessors and critical family history, which in turn can develop awareness of existing generational familial dangers or tendencies.
- Sacrificial fathers intercede and aren’t afraid to take on or ward against the wrath and misfortune that threaten the family.
- Compassionate fathers implement and teach a healthy reverence for God and authority ― the key to a healthy community.
- A father whose heart is united with his children gives them peace and stability rather than rage and insecurity.
In short, we must establish, protect, and fight at all cost for the maintenance of a multi-generational father-led society.
Organizations such as the American Psychological Association and fathers.com point to research that shows economic trends, changes in caregiving roles, and the single-parent epidemic (usually mothers) as consequences of a fatherless society.
There is no question the current statistical norm reflects a fatherless society that impacts us all — not just the fatherless. The seven truths listed above powerfully address every aspect of fatherless adversity we face today culturally. Think broadly about any challenge we face as a culture and you will find it can be healed or corrected by one or more of these healthy father-led attributes. Why aren’t we more authoritatively vocal and engaged in implementing a father-shift from a fatherless to a father-led society?
I faced many challenges in my teenage vow to stand as my father stood during the civil war. Like him, I faced the threat of execution many times. I faced constant pressures of forceful conscription by rebel forces. There was peer pressure, and threats to destroy my promising athletic career (shoot my knees) if I refuse to take up a gun and fight. I frequently sat in the company of acquaintances engaged in the use of illegal drugs. Nevertheless, none of these incapacitated the God-ordained blessing of a remarkable earthly father who fulfilled his role. He established familial security for every member of his family. He did what he had to do, even making all-night fishing trips fun for his boys while providing food and avoiding harassment from rebel soldiers. The current lives of my siblings and me, as well as our families, are also a direct reflection of his role as a successful father.
I implore your direct and long-term commitment to join an assembly of like-minded advocates in the battle for re-establishing a father-led society. A great opportunity for you to get involved exists with the “Father-Shift” 2013 Seattle Conference, November 14–16, 2103.
Postscript: Ezechiel Bambolo Sr. served for nearly 30 years as an African missionary in Liberia, West Africa. He was a dean of administration and lead professor of the French Department at Ricks Institute, where students frequently credit his influence for their international service to organizations such has the U.N., the Liberian government, and elsewhere. He now resides in Cameroon, Central Africa. He and his wife, Anne, have been married for nearly 50 years.
Ezechiel "Zeke" Bambolo Jr. is author of The Firstborn Son: A Curse, a Gift, or a Calling. Also a public speaker on successful family legacy, his writings and more are at thefirstbornson.com.
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