FOR MEN ONLY
BY DAVE ROEVER
As I tour the country’s high schools sharing my story of tragedy-turned-triumph, I take time at the end of a presentation to visit with the kids one-on-one. I probe their minds trying to get a handle on what’s causing this generation to wallow in a quagmire of hopelessness, despair, and turmoil. Whatever the topic of conversation, I ultimately come back to two basic questions: What about your home? What about your dad?
In answer to the first question, I occasionally hear, “Great … my parents are great.” But to the second, all too often, the response is: “My dad left when I was little,” or “My dad’s hardly ever home,” or “My dad lives outside the state, so I don’t see him or talk to him much.”
Another thing I’ve noticed as I tour the country is that our church congregations are made up of older people. Where are the children? The teenagers?
This isn’t going to be another church-bashing session. I’m not blaming the church. In the past few years we’ve had all the church-bashing we can take; I’m not going to add to it. The difficulties we face in America today are not the fault of the church.
BETRAYED AND VIOLATED
After finishing a high school assembly in the northern United States, I opened the floor for questions and comments. A young lady stood in front of her 2,500 peers and said, “Mr. Roever, every night my father comes into my room and tries to sexually molest me. I have to run out of the house to get away from him.” She hesitated a second, then in measured, calculated words, asked, “Mr. Roever, how can I get rid of my father?”
The most common statement made to me by girls in public schools is, “Mr. Roever, I wish you were my dad.” My son and daughter are young adults now, but if either of them ever said to another man, I wish you
were my dad, it would break my heart. Yet, I hear it every day, over and over again.
During an assembly in Michigan a few weeks later, I told the story of the girl who’d asked how to get rid of her father. When I finished my presentation, the kids lined up all the way to the back of the gym, waiting to speak to me. Most of them just wanted a hug-just wanted to hear somebody say I love you. At least a dozen times while doing an assembly, I tell the kids I love them, but that’s not enough. They want me to look them in the eye and say it just to them.
This particular day, a little seventeen-year-old blonde sitting on the front row waited until everyone finished before she stepped up to me, grabbed my arm, and pulled me aside. “Mr. Roever, my name is Sasha,” she said. Her eyes revealed a frantic young woman. When she spoke again, her words were barely audible, but desperate. “Please, Mr. Roever, what did you tell that girl?”
Taking Sasha’s hand, I asked, “Do you have a problem at home?”
She nodded as tears filled her eyes. I knew if I asked her another question I would be involved, because if she answered it with a yes-and there wasn’t the slightest doubt in my mind she would-I would break the law if I didn’t report it. I plunged in. “Are you being sexually abused by your father?”
“Yes,” she said, embarrassed and ashamed.
The details that followed defy comprehension by decent human beings. She said, “I was almost three years old when my dad left us. He was gone for nearly ten years. When my mom begged him to come back, he said he would … on one condition … I wouldn’t be a virgin when I turned thirteen.” Sasha struggled to empty her soul of the awful story. “My mother said yes … and … and I’ve had to sleep with my dad for four years . . . and I hate it … and I want out.”
I called Danny, the youth pastor who had driven me to Sasha’s school that day. “Danny,” I said, “I need two counselors. I want Christian counselors, but they have to be state-approved. I need help and I need it now. Is there anyone you know?”
His eyes grew wide as he said, “You’re not going to believe what happened! Early this morning I got a phone call from a couple in our church who work for the State of Michigan as counselors! They said, ‘We want to see Dave Roever in action in a public school. Can you get us into the assembly?’ I called the school and got permission for them to come. They’re waiting in the foyer right now.”
Sasha never spent another night with her father. The counselors placed her with a good family, and that evening in our crusade she gave her heart to Jesus. Sasha faithfully attends church and is growing in the Lord, no longer tormented by fear of what her father might do next.
This story has a tragic twist to it. When Danny, his pastor and wife, and the counselors took Sasha to tell her parents what the state was doing and how the church was cooperating, they discovered the parents attended church regularly. After getting Sasha settled in her new home, Danny spoke with the parents’ pastor. His comment? “You take Sasha for now. When you get her straightened out, bring her back to me and we’ll take it from there.”
Sasha found two more girls in her school who were in abusive situations. One had been abused by her father, the other by her high school coach. These men are sitting behind bars today and, as far as I’m concerned, they can throw away the keys.
Statistics indicate that twenty-five to forty percent of American women today have been sexually abused by a family member. And it doesn’t occur only in families outside the church. All around us are individuals who have experienced sexual abuse. Many of them are angry and bitter and harbor a burning desire for revenge. Often the offender is dead and gone, but the wounds of the victims are still painful.
Many young people in America are living in hell on earth with no end in sight. The fastest growing cause of death among teens-next to drinking and driving-is suicide. Consumed with despair, they feel they have nothing to live for and suicide is their only way out. These are the kids I face regularly in the schools of our nation.
God save our children. Our greatest natural resource, if you can call it that, is our kids. It’s not oil; it’s not technology; it’s our children. And what’s being done to many of them is incomprehensible.
A CHALLENGE FOR FATHERS
By now, you’ve probably figured out where I’m heading. This is a gut-
wrenching subject, and one that’s difficult to discuss, but I challenge
you to keep reading. The problem in America is not the government;
it’s not the schools; it’s not the church. The problem is Dad. So
when we’re through blaming the government, the schools, and the church,
we finally have to admit the responsibility lies with us.
Some of the last words of the Old Testament say it clearly: “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And He will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children” (Malachi 4:5,6, NKJV). That means fathers’ hearts have not been where they should be. And now, just before it’s too late, just in the nick of time, the heart of the father must be turned to his children, and the hearts of the children to the father. Why? “Lest I come and strike the earth with a curse” (Malachi 4:6, NKJV). I hate threats, but I love a challenge. Challenge me and I’ll go the last mile; I’ll go miles past the last mile; I’ll overrun the objective in my eagerness to accept a challenge because I believe in challenges. Lest I come and strike the earth with a curse can be taken as a threat or challenge. If it’s a threat, it may be too late. If it’s a challenge, we have an opportunity to prevent it from coming to pass. I prefer to take that verse as a challenge.
PRIEST AND PROVIDER
Every husband/father is called to be the priest and provider of his home. If you think you’re a good provider, but you’re a lousy priest, you’re kidding yourself. There’s no such thing as a good provider who is not a good priest. Nor is there a good priest who is not a good provider. A good priest will always provide for his family; that’s an automatic. But I caution you, Dad, if you give your kids Izod shirts and Air-Jordan shoes every day of their lives but don’t have the love of God in your home, you’re a lousy provider.
You may say, “I’m a good priest, Dave. I pray for my family.” When was the last time your kids heard you call their names before the throne of God? It’s not too late to start. Pray for your children. Intercede for them. Let them hear you. If they can’t hear you when you pray, then pray by the air-conditioning vent. Pray for the sins they thought you didn’t know about, and let them experience a few sleepless nights wondering how in the world you found out. All over America I deal with kids whose lives are shattered. I’m convinced it wouldn’t be so if they regularly heard their fathers pray.
Mothers, I’m not ignoring you. I know many of you have carried the load and been the priestesses of your households because your husbands have ignored their God-given responsibility. Thank you for being godly women, but it’s time for men to assume spiritual leadership of their homes.
SHOW AND TELL
Many fathers have never said the words “I love you” to their children. You may be one of them. You think they know you love them, but if you don’t tell them they can’t be sure. Tell your kids you love them, then show it by sharing your life with them. Dad, turn your heart to your children. Don’t let anything take precedence over them. If your company offers you a ten-times-your-regular-pay raise to do a job that would send you to Timbuktu when your little girl is being smooth-talked by some boy in school and she’s about to give away her virginity because she thinks she’s giving him her love, don’t take the job! Stay with your daughter. I’d lose my job, pick up aluminum cans, and sell them to feed my family-for the rest of my life if necessary-before I’d put my daughter on the altar of sacrifice for my personal success.
Lose your job, but don’t lose your children.
Take your boy fishing and hunting. I’d rather go hunting with my son today than go hunting for him tomorrow.
I’m tired of seeing our children turn to the rock-and-roll gods of this generation in search of heroes. They have posters all over their walls, and they bow down before their gods at rock concerts. They ought to have better role models than rock stars who do drugs then say, “Don’t do drugs.’ The kids see through it; they know most of the rock stars are just trying to appease irate parents. So, in essence, they’re setting two examples for today’s youth: one of lying, the other of drug abuse.
I think Dad ought to be the hero in the family. What’s this nonsense of turning silly little teenage neutered midget turtles into heroes? I thank God my kids had more to look up to than neutered turtles living in a sewer! There’s got to be more for our children. Give them a dad to look up to, and when someone asks who their hero is, they’ll say, “Dad’s my hero.”
How do you become a hero? Be a man of your word. When you make a promise, live by it. If you break a promise, go to your children and explain why you can’t do what you said you’d do. And make sure your reason for not doing what you promised is more important than doing it. The integrity of a father’s word is a standard for the lives of his children. Unfortunately, for many of America’s kids today, no standard exists. There’s no dad to be a hero.
Believe it or not, you can be a hero by saying no. Your kids may be saying, “Aw, Dad!” on the outside, but inside they’re saying, Thank you! You gave me a reason to say no when I didn’t have the courage to say it on my own.
Another way to be a hero to your kids is to treat their mother with love and respect. Call her honey, not heifer. Tell her you love her everyday-right in front of the kids. Tell her three, four, five times a day. They need to hear you say it. Send your wife flowers; not just for her but for your kids as well. When they come home from school and see them, they’ll say, “Oooo, Mom, where did the flowers come from?” The look on her face when she says, “Your dad sent them” will speak volumes to your kids. They find great security in knowing that Mom and Dad love each other.
Be a gentleman. It may seem old-fashioned to open a door for your wife, or help her on with her coat, but some things never go out of style. Besides that, it’s scriptural. Ephesians 5:25 says to love your wife like Jesus loves the church and treat your wife like Jesus treats the church. He gives the church gifts; He opens the door; He shows His goodness and kindness, and He says “I love you.” We ought to do the same. Don’t be so busy you don’t have time for a little kindness along the way.
I may not be the best at chivalry, but I had the best teacher a man could want. My daddy treated my mama with respect. He walked into the kitchen every morning, bent down and kissed the back of her neck right in front of us kids, and said, “Lois, darling, I love you.” We thought it was funny and we’d snicker and say, “Daddy’s kissing Mama!” But he taught me how to treat my wife by the example he set.
Not long ago Dad stepped into a room in his three-piece suit and walked up to Mama’s casket. He bent down, brushed the hair from her ear and said, “Lois, darling, I love you.” My dad kept his vows unto death. That’s why he’s my hero.
A friend named Lee Williams lost his wife and two daughters when a drunk driver sped down the wrong side of an interstate highway and killed twenty-seven passengers on a church bus.’ Lee’s wife and two
daughters were his entire family. Two years after the tragedy, I asked Lee how he was doing.
“Pretty good, Dave…. I just came from the cemetery. I don’t get there often, but I had a promise to keep. Kristen would have been sixteen this week, and I promised her sixteen roses on her sixteenth birthday, so I made a trip up to Missouri and put them on her grave. You know, Dave, a dad’s got to keep his word.” He continued, “Robin’s grave is right beside Kristen’s. The color of her phone is kinda faded now…. I promised her a phone of her own on her fourteenth birthday. A man has to keep his promises.”
You say, “Dave, the kids are dead. You don’t keep vows to dead people.” You’re right. Lee was keeping vows to himself.
Dad, if you’re going to turn your heart to your children, you have a few promises to keep-to yourself and to them.
There are things you said you would do that you haven’t done. It’s time to do them. For your kids’ sake, give them a hero.
RESPONSIBILITY: A TWO-WAY STREET
Every kid living at home has a responsibility, too. Not only does that verse say the fathers should turn their hearts to their children, but the children should turn their hearts to their fathers. Kids may ask, “How can I turn my heart to my father?” Start by telling him you love him. “But I don’t love him. In fact, I think I hate him,’ you may say. Tell him you love him anyway. You may be as surprised as he is to find out you really do.
Keep your promises to your parents. Do your homework. Clean your room. Honor your father and mother. You have an obligation and a responsibility before God to do so. If you call yourself a Christian, you should behave as a child of God. If you don’t, you’re in double jeopardy.
Every child should make this pledge: “I solemnly vow I will clean my room. I will obey my father and mother. I will do my homework. I will be a child of God who accepts responsibility. And I will serve You, Lord Jesus, so help me God.”
THE AWFUL TRUTH
When I spoke at a prayer breakfast in Alaska, the governor handed me a paper. The message on it has changed my life. It said:
Today in America …
2,795 teenagers will get pregnant
1,106 teenagers will have abortions
372 teenagers will have miscarriages
1,027 babies will be born to mothers addicted to cocaine
67 babies will die before they are 30 days old
105 babies will die before they are a year old
211 children will be arrested for drug abuse
437 children will be arrested for drinking and driving
10 children will die from gunshot wounds
30 children will be wounded by gunfire
135,000 children will take guns to school
1,512 teenagers will drop out of school
1,849 children will be abused or neglected
6 teenagers will commit suicide
3,288 children will run away from home
1,629 children are in adult jails
7,742 teens will become sexually active
623 teenagers will contract gonorrhea or syphilis
Tomorrow in America it all starts all over again …
Dad, turn your heart to your children. Turn your heart to God. Don’t be so proud or so arrogant as to think you’re too big for correction. Don’t be so senseless as to think you’re too big to respond to the tug in your spirit. For the sake of your children, for your own sake, Dad, turn your heart to your kids.
When you stand before God on Judgment Day, the only thing you can take with you is your wife and children. You can’t take your job. You can’t take that gold watch signifying forty years of service. You can’t take any of the things you thought were so important. The only thing you can take is your family. That’s it. You can have all the gold watches that were ever made, but I’m sure you’d trade them in a New York second for the daughter who won’t make it to heaven because you were too busy earning watches.
Dad, God loves you and so do 1. I want God to do a miracle in your life today. Follow me in this simple prayer. Pray it only if you mean it. Let it come from your heart. This is an act of the priest; the responsibility of the priest; the duty, the performance-not the put-on. Speak it out like the man you are. I want God to hear you, and I want the devil to hear you, too:
Lord Jesus, thank You. Thank You for Your love, Your patience, Your life, Your death, and Your resurrection. You are my High Priest; You intercede for me; You shed Your blood for me because You loved me. God, in those areas where I’m wrong and You know them as well as I-please forgive me. Cleanse me of all filthiness of the flesh, mind, and spirit as I commit myself to You. As I study Your Word, I pray Your characteristics will become mine. Jesus, help me to be a man of my word. Help me to stand for what is right regardless of what the rest of the world may do. Give me the strength of the Holy Spirit to be the witness a dad ought to be. Thank You for my children. Thank You for my wife. Make me a holy priest, a godly priest, a priest filled with integrity. And now, as priest of my household, I hold my family before You and I intercede for them. I will not let go of them. Dear God, save my family, cleanse them, preserve their souls, and let us all stand in an unbroken circle around the throne of God.
Satan, you’re a liar. You’ve lied to me for years, but Jesus has set me free. The blood of Jesus cleanses and keeps my family. Satan, you no longer have any part in my family. You are finished; you are history. Jesus is Lord of my family, and we will stand before Him in peace and love. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
The Reverend Dave Roever, horribly burned when a white phosphorus grenade exploded inches from his face in Vietnam, inspires thousands across the nation with his enthusiasm for life. Credentialed with the Assemblies of God for thirty years, and speaking for public high schools, television, business conventions, crusades, and churches, he crisscrosses America bringing a message of hope.
Dave attended Southwestern Assemblies of God College and currently serves as president for the Roever Evangelistic Association, Inc. and the Roever Educational Assistance Program, Inc.
He and his wife Brenda are the parents of son Matthew and daughter Kimberly Roever Chapin.
THE ABOVE MATERIAL WAS TAKEN FROM “PARENTING”; EDITED BY HAL DONALDSON, OUTWARD BOOKS, INC., 1993, PAGES 11-23. THIS MATERIAL IS COPYRIGHTED AND MAY BE USED FOR STUDY & RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY.