Since becoming a Christian I’ve thought a lot about the kind of legacy I want to leave for my children and their children and so on. In fact, I’ve often talked to friends about how our decisions today will affect 100 generations from now. Humans have difficulty grasping large sets of numbers let alone 100 generations. If the average generation is 25 years, 100 generations is 2500 years. The emphasis for me is not the number of years, but it’s having a long-term vision for my family starting with my children which represents one generation and doing all that I can to point them to God.
Eleven days ago we buried my father in Auckland. He would be 79 this December. Sitting by his hospital bedside before he took his last breath, I traced back as far as I could remember what he built in me. He was a carpenter, and a brilliant one at that. One of my earliest memories was playing with timber blocks near his feet whilst he was building something for a church he was building at the time in Samoa. I worked out later from relatives who attended his funeral that he built that church in 1973. That puts me roughly at 3-years-old. I remember him smiling at me as he would gather timber blocks for me to play with. I don’t recall if he had any power tools, I remember the sweat pouring off his brow and his t-shirt would be soaked in sweat.
He taught me a strong work ethic. He taught me to love God and His church, to pray, to be a man of faith, to think big, and he taught me that nothing is impossible if you put your mind to it. He taught me leadership is about serving. He taught me to love and to give unconditionally. He often pushed me and my siblings to be courageous, to fear God and not man. He lectured us in the Word. He lectured us in the culture. He lectured us in the true meaning of humility. More importantly, he lectured us to be in unity, to honour, love and respect each other.
As we prepared Dad’s final days, his children, his grandchildren and great-grandchildren (a total of 49), came together in the most united way. In one-heart and in humility to give him a great send off. This is not common in a fa’a-Samoa culture; a culture full of cultural powers that can add complexity and dynamics on every level, both good and bad. It was observed by the wider family and friends who came to pay their respects, what dad spent years building in us, was on full display in his final days. As we hosted the wider family, or “the village”, one might say, we were in total unity and with one heart.
He was a rock in our family, and he has left a big hole in our hearts. However, he would be so proud that his sweat and tears landed on fertile soil, and the growth for the next generation has taken root.
My encouragement is, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and the perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2.
Let us build a legacy and finish the race well for generations to come.
God’s richest blessings,
Frank Po Ching