Back to Basics Part II

 

Running for My Life 2017 Day 19

There are times when I wake up and decide to run without having planned to do so the night before. I also run without drinking water a long the route. I do this thinking it will strengthen me mentally and physically. Today, I decided to attempt Ngong Road-Karen-Dagoretti-Southern Bypass and back.

Distance: 15.5 KMS
Duration: 1:42:50
Average Pace: 6:45/KM
Music: Lauren Daigle (How Can It Be)

Back to Basics Part II

If homes are going to survive, it will be because husbands and fathers again place their families at the highest level on their system of priorities.

James Dobson

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When the door cracked open, my tongue jumped to the roof of my mouth and got stuck there as a result of the panic I felt deep inside. Silas’ dad stepped entered the house and without a word, went to sit beneath his black and white portrait. Not knowing where or how to begin, I simply sat there, trying hard not to stare at him. Instead, I gazed at the portrait.

“Baba Silas,” his wife said after a long interlude of silence. “This is James, he works with an organization that mentors boys in juvenile prison,” she continued. “He has come to talk to us about our son.”

I explained to him what Lifesong Kenya does and that I had been waiting for him to come back home. Throughout our visit he didn’t speak much. It was his wife, two daughters and another son that spoke and shared their desire to see Silas free. I eventually gathered enough courage to address the dad directly.

The core responsibility of a father

“Thanks for allowing us to visit your family at this hour of the night,” I said. “As a father, I acknowledge your responsibility as a provider for the needs of your family. However, your responsibilities don’t just end there.

“My desire is that all fathers would stop being hands-off dads and actively get involved in their sons, daughters and wives lives,” I said, cautious not to overstep my mandate as a single man who had zero experience with bringing up a family.

“Most of the boys I meet in prison come from families led by single moms and married mothers whose husbands are hands-off dads. These boys need our guidance as men. It is therefore our sole responsibility as fathers to speak and actively get involved into the lives of our children, especially our sons.

“It is my hope that each one of you will be able to write Silas a letter,” I continued, not knowing why I was saying this or where it was leading to. “Feel free to tell him how you feel about his arrest and the fact that he is in prison. I will take the letters to him this coming Friday.

“And one more thing,” I said, “I need one of you – if its okay – you dad to accompany me on Friday so we can meet Silas together.”

In the end, Silas’ dad didn’t write a letter. Neither did he offer to come to prison with me. Nor did he see us off at the end of our visit. It was the mother, one of the daughters and their son who escorted us to the bus stage where we took the No. 19/60 matatu back to town.

I arrived back home at 11 PM. It was only then that I realized I had spent hours to accomplish what Silas had sent me to do. I had managed to have a session with the students at his former school, spoke to his and and ended up collecting three letters for him. It was a huge achievement.

Silas’ release from prison

The sister eventually accompanied me to prison and she almost cried. Across us sat – on the floor – about 100 boys. Silas embraced her sister then the two of them sat at a corner, catching up. All he wanted to know was why his dad has never visited, didn’t write a letter or sent a word of encouragement.

However, Silas’ dad chose to act. He went a day to get Silas released from prison. It was a Saturday when I received the good news. I was so happy for him, his family and had high expectation. At exactly 2 AM my phone rung. It was Silas’ mom.

“Hello James,” she said. “Sorry for waking you up.”

“It’s okay,” I replied.

“I need your help! Silas left after he had arrived from prison in the afternoon,” she explained. “He has just come back home completely drunk. What should I do?”

“Did you keep dinner for him?” I asked.

“Yes,” she replied.

“Warm it and serve him,” I said. “And please, if you must say anything at all, just tell him how much you love him and that you are glad he has come back home safe and sound. Allow God to do the rest.”

“Thank you and God bless you.”

“Welcome and glory to God!” I replied. “We’ll talk in the morning.”

I wasn’t able to sleep anymore. Instead, I looked forward to my swimming lessons in church at 5:50 AM and spent the rest of the time thinking about the boys I had met in prison, their situation, their families and future lives. I knew there was hope for them. There was a lot of work to be done and we were going to take one step, at a time.

This is an excerpt from A Grain of Happiness, a book I am writing about my experiences after I quit my job to focus on mentoring boys in juvenile prison.  I will be including parts of it in my daily posts. 

 

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