Father Discovers New Purpose in Ethiopia
Tijuana, Mexico. That’s the farthest I’d ever seen my dad travel outside the United States. Dad knew how to build a car, fly a plane, captain a boat, and do just about anything else too. But he didn’t know much about Africa. That much was clear from the way his voice cracked when he told me that he would volunteer as my chaperon on SBPC’s 2011 mission to the Desert in Ethiopia. He had no confidence that he could help bridge the vast cultural, linguistic, and religious chasms that separated us Americans from the Ethiopians. And in all honesty, before I went with him, I wouldn’t have bet money on him either. But God has a habit of equipping the called, and Darrell Gordon was called to the African desert.
About as soon as we arrived in the desert for a week of English teaching, relationship building, and long-term planning with our Ethiopian partners, my dad showed that he’d been hiding a knack for mission work his whole life. From bravely volunteering to teach a group of 30+ children English to helping facilitate interfaith dialogs with local Muslim community leaders, I saw a passion inside of him that I’d never seen before. Whenever he would meet someone, he would immediately set to work thinking about what small way he could improve their lives and show the love of Christ while doing it. He found a way to get soccer balls to local boys soccer teams, sponsored the education of several Ethiopian girls, and even worked with a Stanford startup company to get affordable science equipment for the new high school we helped build. When we came back, I didn’t even have to ask if he wanted to go again the next year.
A few months ago, the same man whose voice cracked as he told me he’d go to Ethiopia so that I could go too called me to say that he’d be leading the entire team this year. If I wasn’t surprised, it was because I had already been witness to the years-long project that God had been working on in Dad’s heart. I could see that our church’s mission in Ethiopia had given him an energy and purpose that ran deeper than all of the cool professions he’d had up until now. Dad still goes to Tijuana. He’ll show up to Come Build Hope in his famous denim overalls next year just like he always has. But the boundary between the US and Mexico no longer serves as the boundary of his comfort zone in the world. He took a leap of faith, flew to the proverbial ends of the earth, and changed his own life and those of others for the better. For that, I wake up every day proud to be his son.
Written by Glen Gordon
July 2, 2020