Do you remember the test that you scored the lowest on? For me, I can still recall it vividly: It was an essay on the topic “Describe your father.” The essay seemed easy for others but turned out to be the opposite for me; at the time, I was completely empty and confused and could think of no words to write down.
I submitted a blank paper and received a zero amidst the ridicule of my classmates. I couldn’t complete the essay since I’ve never met my father nor received any affection or care from him.
My childhood was not as fortunate as many of my other peers. Due to financial difficulties, my father decided to migrate to Russia for work. At that time, my mother had just turned 30 years old and was pregnant with me. My father left with hopes of finding a job and working hard to make more money to support his three children.
During the first three years that my father was in Moskva, he regularly wrote us letters that were full of love and encouragement for the family. But eventually, the letters stopped coming. Our family waited. One year, two years, three years … My father’s friends returned home one by one to reunite with their families, but there was still no news about my father.
Every time we heard there was a group of workers coming back from Russia, we would eagerly wait and then be disappointed. My mother asked other workers who went at the same time with my father, but they said he was transferred to a different unit. My mother packed up and went to the city to visit the company that sent my father overseas. They told her that my father had quit his job and found another job, which meant that they weren’t responsible for him missing.
After that, people started to gossip about my father being missing. They said that my father had another wife, he had been arrested, he had lost his mind, or he had died. But my family didn’t give up. We continued to wait for a miracle.
Without my father, all the difficulties of raising and providing for our family were heaped on my mother’s shoulders. As a teacher, her salary was so small that she couldn’t make ends meet, so she had to quit to search for other jobs. In the morning, she would work as a bricklayer or a porter in factories, and at night, she continued to collect pieces of metal from the dusty cement factory.
I remember how my mother looked in those days: tall and skinny, her weight barely reaching 88 pounds. While working hard, my mother still played the role of both mother and father in caring for us and ensured that none of us had to stop our schooling.
I had no idea what a father even was. I always felt deficient, weak, and ugly compared to others. I lived with no life purpose and no compassion for others. But when my brother came back from studying overseas in Malaysia, he shared with me about a special Father, a Father who loved me dearly, forgave my sins, and sacrificed for me.
From that day, I gradually experienced the love that the Father has given to me. I no longer felt sad. I spent time reading the Bible daily and felt joyful. He changed my heart, and I learned to love and care for others. After I graduated from college, God gave me an opportunity to serve my community through working for Samaritan’s Purse.
Now I work as a project staff member for the early childhood development program. I hope to use the love God has given me to share and serve children in the highlands, hoping that one day they will experience the love of our Father and return to Him.
I’ve lived 28 years without an earthly father. But if someone asks me now to “Describe your father,” I won’t hesitate to use all the beautiful words existing in this world to describe our wonderful and great Heavenly Father.
Editors Note: According to the International Labour Organization, the Asia-Pacific region accounts for 11.7 million forced laborers, or 56 percent of the global total. Although we cannot be sure if Linh’s father was trafficked, this story illustrates the affect a missing father can have on a family and the importance of addressing issues like labor trafficking.