LESSONS FROM MY FATHER (Article) by Dr. Abidan Paul Shah
(Published in the newspaper Daily Dispatch, Henderson on February 24, 2021)
On January 24, 2021, my father’s faith became sight. He was a loving husband to my mom for over 55 years, a dedicated father to his three children, and the pastor of his only church for almost 60 years. He touched countless lives in India and all over the world through his preaching of the gospel. His testimony of coming to Christ from Islam and being disowned by his family encouraged many to follow Christ. Along with serving as a denominational leader, member of numerous boards, and as the principal of a Bible college, he even helped with the Billy Graham Association. His legacy will live on for years to come. Since his death, I have been thinking about the many lessons I learned from him. Here are just a few:
- The words “no” and “God” cannot coexist in a believer’s life. My father gave up his family and inheritance to follow Christ. His whole life was one of total dedication to God. He lived out Matthew 10:38: “he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.”
- Family takes precedence over ministry. When I was about 7 years old, my mom became gravely ill. In order to give her the best care, my father stepped away from the pulpit for an extended period of time. His flock saw the demonstration of Ephesians 5:25: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her.” As busy as he was, he always made sure that we had the best education, clothes, and opportunities for success in life.
- Never underestimate the potential of the insignificant and the obscure. When my father graduated from seminary, he turned down a large church in a big city because God burdened him for a fledgling church in a small town. He not only served as the shepherd to three generations of families but also touched the world in the process. When I began my pastorate, he challenged me, “Don’t run or you will hop from place to place all your life.”
- True humility is not in being hunched over and soft-spoken. My father was anything but mild-mannered. In fact, he carried himself like a king because he knew that he was the child of the Great King (Psalm 95:3). The test of his humility was in how he talked about the grace of God in calling a wretched sinner like him.
- Be like Jesus who always “went about doing good” (Acts 10:38). One time, I was venting to my father about how I had helped certain people and they didn’t even appreciate. Some even talked junk about me. He responded, “Son, I’ve helped a lot of people too and many have forgotten. But, what did Jesus do?” I knew what he meant.
- Don’t let anyone intimidate you. My father was the most fearless man I knew. He was often invited to preach large crusades in places known for persecution. No one dared to stop him. Unfortunately, in the early years, he was also the target of envy by fellow Christian leaders. In time, many of the same people became his best friends.
- Don’t forget the poor, the needy, and the homeless. My father always had a heart for those were less fortunate. He would travel to forgotten places to help people with food and clothing, who otherwise would have nothing. During the hippie trails, many disillusioned young people from America stayed with us and my father ministered to them. Our home was always open to missionaries and traveling evangelists from all over the world.
- Prayer works, but be specific. My father was known for his powerful prayers. There are numerous stories of miraculous healings through his prayers. In his last Facebook Live Sermon, he challenged the listeners through the Parable of the Importunate Neighbor to be specific in prayer: “When you ask God, be specific. You want to be delivered from this sickness? You want to be delivered from this trouble? Maybe you have financial problems…”
People like my father come along very rarely in life. I was privileged to have him as my dad and for that I am forever grateful to God.