In 2012 while attending a meeting in Vancouver, I overheard a conversation with some strangers. Papa Fred shared about his painful struggles and defeats to another person. After listening for 5 minutes, I was inspired and impressed and I had to meet this honest, wise and humble man. A few months later, I was able to fly to New Jersey and I spent a week getting to know Papa Fred and many other leaders on the East Coast.
Over the years, Papa Fred became a true papa to me. I loved staying at his home and hearing about everything from making coffee, tea, calligraphy, homecoming, local church issues and most of the time just sharing our hearts. He spend an hour teaching how to make a better cup of coffee and after that lesson, I learned how to enjoy coffee at new levels. Together, Papa Fred and Mama Molica were an amazing couple and over the years, I appreciate their transparency. It was always a joy to spend time with Papa Fred as we walked together in countless meetings, local church meetings, East Coast Gatherings, the Homecoming movement, the USA journey and more recently with the First Nation.
Throughout the years, I appreciated Papa Fred’s phone calls for the primary purpose to see how I was doing. Those phone calls became even more precious during the pandemic and later when I was diagnosed with Pulmonary Fibrosis. Talking to Papa Fred was a safe place to share our hearts. Papa Fred once told me that he went to China to stay with a pastor for a few days to help him by simply spending time together. When he was asked by the pastor to teach, Papa Fred refused knowing this would take away precious alone time with the pastor. After a few days, the pastor was able to share his struggles. Papa Fred’s had accomplished his goal of sharing hearts.
My last phone call with Papa Fred was in October, a few weeks before his death. I was surprised, touched and humbled that he called because he had a called a few weeks earlier and I had given him a positive report about my health. I told him I will answer his questions but first, I wanted to know about his recent trip to Sudan. He was bit reluctant to share since I was changing the purpose of his call. Asking more questions, he excitedly shared what God had done. To hear his joy gave me joy. Our last conversation is a precious memory of us sharing our hearts and having a chance for me to pray for him.
A few days before Papa Fred’s homecoming to heaven, I held the calligraphy gift that Papa Fred had given to me years ago with the inscription, “soar as an eagle” and I prayed from Isaiah 40:31 that Papa Fred would soar like an eagle on earth. But God’s plan is that Papa Fred would soar like an eagle into heaven and where He “will renew his strength” and he “will run and not be weary” and he “will walk and not faint.”