The Values My Father Taught Me

As time passes I have learned to reflect upon the events of my journey in life which has helped me reset, recalibrate and appreciate all that has gone before!

It would be an understatement to say “my father had a lot to do with the shaping of my life!”

Hence I have taken the time to write down for posterity the lessons & values I learnt from my father.

He would often quote the scripture “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches.” Proverbs 22:1

Some years ago Ps Ron Wilson from Tasmania painted this portrait. It perhaps illustrates his serious nature. He was often described as an English gentleman. Always neatly dressed and well groomed.

His great grandchildren aren’t too impressed with the painting, as they think he looks too severe, but they didn’t get to see him or know him as I knew him.

Father’s Day is an opportunity for men in particular, to reflect upon their own lives and the values that they aspire to as men. Interestingly most of those values have been imprinted upon their lives by their father.

Personally Fathers Day gives me an opportunity to reflect upon my own performance as a father and also thank God for my father Thomas L Evans. Hopefully I will pass onto the next generation the positive values that my father past onto me. Isn’t it that how it works?

Here are some of the values I learned from my father without him even trying to teach me. You see children usually learn from their parents by a process of “Osmosis”  which is the process of gradual or unconscious assimilation of ideas, knowledge by example.

1. My father Thomas Lever Evans, taught me how to handle opposition with Integrity.

This primarily was the essential character value that I have imbibed.

I once saw him when he was under attack from a small group of Indian christians who wanted him to resign his position as Pastor and hand the church he pioneered over to Indian leadership. It was during India’s independence struggle and there was a lot of anti British sentiment in the country at the time.

I saw his Christ like response to their militant demands. I was only six or seven years of age as I watched the drama unfold before my eyes in the Zion Pentecostal church pictured above. Would they kill him? What would happen if the group of Indian nationalists tried to take over the Zion Pentecostal Church which my father had founded in Khadki India.  

They physically surrounded the pulpit where my father stood as he led the service. They demanded that he leave and proceeded to conduct an alternate service. The atmosphere was charged with confusion and extremely tense with fear gripping this little boy who was looking on, as his father was threatened.

My father calmly spoke in his distinct Welsh/British accent to the dissidents.

“Brethren” he said, “it is an offence under Westminster Law to disrupt a public religious service”. He was referring to the Westminster law that states : Under section C. Divine services: (1) It shall be unlawful for any person to disturb any service of worship of God in any place of worship or to conduct himself in such manner as to molest, annoy, disturb or insult any clergyman or other person during the continuance of a divine service or during the assembling or dispersal of the congregation thereat. 

To which they paid no attention and continued to physically interject and try and take over the worship service.

Their attempts finally failed when my mother under the anointing of the Holy Spirit jumped up from her organ seat and stood before them publicly rebuking the nationalists in the name of Jesus. Instantly they turned tail and left the building. (Thats another thing I learned that day – There is power in the Name of Jesus!)

My shaken but dignified father prayed for peace and calm came over the disturbed Indian congregation. He then continued the service as if nothing had happened.

“Wow” I thought that was a close call on my fathers life and I never forgot his response.

2. My father taught me by example to Pray with my wife. e.g. As a boy growing up in India, I would often go out to the hillside where my father and mother daily prayed and listened to them talk to God for the people of India whom they were called to serve. As I played with my toys around their feet I imbibed a life long desire to pray with my wife when I got married.

Every day when it was possible they would go into the church building nearby to our mission bungalow and pray together for the needs of the church and the family. It left a powerful impression.

It was during their time of united prayer that I gave my heart to Jesus as a 5 year old at my mothers knee. It left an indelible impression upon me and to this day I regularly try and pray with Betty as a matter of habit for our family and then for the Church.

I recommend to all newly married couples to start the habit of praying together. It’s a life changer! 

3. My father taught me to Apologise quickly. I heard him apologising to a fellow missionary in India when they misunderstood him. One day he apologised to me personally for punishing me when it wasn’t my fault. He simple said “Freddie I’m sorry, I made a mistake”. My estimation of him increased.

You see my father by his apology taught me the value of an apology. I saw him apologise to a church congregation when he had no need to. His action diffused the confusion and brought peace. Interestingly I have observed my own sons readily apologise to Church Boards and leaders when they had no legal reason to do so.

On the other hand I have observed Church Boards & Leaders receive accusations against a Pastor/ Elder of the Church and offer no apology. 1 Timothy 5:19

On one occasion I apologised to an aggrieved member of the church for the offences of a former Pastor. It brought healing & reconciliation even though the offence occurred years before my time. A simple apology has incredible power to bring reconciliation.

I have often wondered as I have travelled through life, why it is so difficult for men and for that matter women, including Church leaders to apologise when they cause offense? Often we learn these things from our parents and in particular a father.

4. My father taught me how to use Discipline. When he disciplined me with a rod of correctness he didn’t respond in temper and bellow a curse upon me.  He spoke firmly without raising his voice in anger, in fact it almost brought him to tears. A little physical pain did me no harm as I learnt quickly as a child that there are boundaries to things we do. Proverbs 13:24

I saw him when he faced the need to exercise discipline in the Church & when he confronted the opposition of members of the Church. He would speak firmly but calmly without getting red in the face or showing any form of anger. If anything he showed grief. I never ever heard him say to the Church, “if you don’t like it here go somewhere else!” 

However on the negative side he would internalise his hurt and pain by engaging in a personal inward dialogue that was difficult to resolve. Publicly however he always kept his dignity.

5. My father taught me to understand and respect Women. For many men this is not a laughing matter as many husbands distance themselves simply because they don’t understand or are intolerant of their wife’s social behaviour. For example my mother was a fiery little woman who had an explosive temperament.  

I remember when I was a teenager my mother was going through menopause and was acting irrationally due to serious hormonal imbalance. Her anger was palpable in the home.

It was my father who took me aside one day and explained why Mum was acting out of character. He taught me to be tolerant which I have aspired to be all my life with only a few exceptions, but then you had better ask Betty! lol.

I also heard him preach many times about Jesus – the great emancipator of Women.

6. My father taught me to value my possessions and maintain them. We were not wealthy but I noticed as a growing boy he taught me by example to look after equipment such as the Mission Jeep or Cars he owned and maintained them regularly. 

 Maintenance of vehicles became a hobby of mine resulting in the saving of thousands of dollars over the years by keeping my car in good repair and holding onto them for as long as possible. On average I kept a car for 10 years or more. In fact in my life time I have owned only 5 Cars!

7. My father taught me to Respect Authority. His British heritage was steeped in love and respect for the British Monarchy. He would speak with great respect for the King or Queen of England.

Likewise on lesser levels of authorities such as Police, Government officials etc he would always address them using their title of respect.

When Indian officials happen to visit our home he would always use the phrase “Sir” when addressing them. To this day I find it hard to refer to a Doctor or a Senior Pastor on a first name basis.

For what it’s worth I believe the use of Titles is a good thing. It should be a cultural norm if we ever hope to instil respect for Authorities into young Australians.

8. My father taught me how to Preach.  He was a no nonsense preacher that took the responsibility of preaching God’s word very seriously. With passion and anointing he would declare the Word of God without compromise as the final and absolute authority of all that was truth for man’s behaviour and salvation.

His primary message in life was the person and work of the Holy Ghost. Thousands of people all around the world received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit under his ministry.

 

9. My father taught me to love History and appreciate my Welsh/British ancestry

When travelling to the United Kingdom I remember him taking the time to tell me all about his “homeland” as we crossed the English Channel from France and approached the white cliffs of Dover. 

When we travelled to Wales on the “Golden Arrow” train I imbibed the rich British culture for all things of class and style as my father talked with me. 

He had a great family pride in his British ancestry even though they were humble coal miners.

In retirement I have traced my ancestry and have over 1100 people in my Family Tree.

10. My father taught me how to conduct myself in Public and to focus on my life’s work. He carried the Office of Pastor with dignity in attire and decorum.

He was never flippant in the pulpit. Never used words that had double meaning in trying to engage the contemporary trends of vernacularism. Never tried to be a popularist! Never used slang! His language never degenerated to street level language. Foolish jesting was not appropriate for a Pastor. Ephesians 5:4

He was a fully dedicated follower of Jesus Christ and gave himself seriously to the work of the ministry. He was a passionate preacher and sold out to the Kingdom of God, even at times at the expense of his family.

Herein lies a strange twist in my story about my father.  

You see, I disagreed with my father’s philosophy on one point, he put his Ministry first before his Family. At least that’s how I perceived it!

Consequently I adopted a view that I would give priority to family first over ministry. Ironically isn’t that the name of the political party my brother Andrew founded. “Family First”. haha! 

When it came to family matters, I resigned my position as a Missionary when I was at the peak of my effectiveness, after 15 years of service. I brought my family back home to Australia during their critical teenage years of development. I was not prepared to separate from them even if it was for education purposes. Other missionaries chose to do so and I do not criticise them. It was a personal choice! 

Some people would applaud my fathers dedication to the Ministry as being a strength. Matthew 10:37    “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me”. This level of dedication to the kingdom of God perplexed me at times as a boy, as he was prepared to leave me with relatives or friends in Australia so that he could go back to India to serve another term. 

I was eight years old at at the time! As it turned out, my flood of tears of the possibility of being left in Australia did the trick and caused him to change his mind. Ultimately my parents went back to India for their last term of service with me and my younger sister Evie in tow.

My parent’s sacrifice for the Kingdom cost them dearly! They left Andrew (12 years) and my eldest sister Eirwen (16 years) in Australia with relatives & christian families and went back to India, which turned out to be their final term of service. Such was their dedication to the Kingdom of God!

It was during this time of separation that my eldest sister Eirwen paid the dearest price, which led her to leave the path of her parents. She told me that when our parents returned from India, emotionally she had lost connection with her mother. My brother Andrew on the other hand seemed to take it in his stride, as part of the price one pays in the work of the Ministry. The rest is history!

Interestingly after observing first hand the grief of my mother and father at the separation from their children while they served their last term in India, I made a decision in later years to give priority in balancing my family responsibility and that of the Church.

But who am I to say he was wrong and I am right. After all he left a legacy that speaks for itself.

 

Conclusion. Today as a retiree, I can look back with thankfulness to the example my father gave me. I honour his memory for setting the course of my life even though it was a rather religious legalistic existence at times. Did it hurt me?

No in fact legalism kept me from gross sin  throughout my formative years and I thank him.

Today I am a fully devoted follower of Jesus Christ largely because of my father’s example and more than ever want my children to at least follow my Saviour too. 

My wife Betty wrote my father’s life story in her book “To Run With His Promises”. You can read a brief extract from it online. To Run With His Promises

His story is a remarkable journey from the coal mines of Wales to the far corners of the earth. The link below will give you further reading of his remarkable story as I saw it.

My Father – Thomas Lever Evans 1901 – 1996

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