I recently attempted to find an acquaintance from my time in Uganda. I located her because she wrote a book several years ago. Victoria Wilson was the most fascinating African woman I ever met.
Victoria’s father, John Wilson, was a vice president for Texaco Oil. Despite the privileges of money, he expected his children to fulfill a higher purpose in life. He was a strict disciplinarian, committed to raising children who would live in relationship with and serve God.
I found him intimidating when we met in Kampala in 1982. I was in the presence of greatness and I knew it.
In her book, (“My Father’s Daughter,” Servant Warrior Publishing, 1994) Vicky writes passionately about the Biblical mandates given to fathers.
“There is no brighter light than the one that is lit from within,” she wrote. “A father’s primary function on this earth is to be a reflection of our heavenly Father. He is to love and nurture his family. He must be there for them, provide for their needs, protect them and guide them in the ways of righteousness.”
There is an example in her book.
One Saturday night, when 15-year-old Vicky was home on holiday, there was a party she really wanted to attend. The kids were several years older than her, and Mr. Wilson said absolutely not. Vicky wasn’t deterred. When her parents went out for the evening, she snuck out to the party.
The handsome host immediately set his eyes and desires on her. They danced all night and several hours passed in a blur … until panicked cries rang out from the kids who knew her father.
“Mr. Wilson! Mr. Wilson!”
Vicky’s tall, imposing father looked neither right nor left. He walked straight to the place where his young daughter stood wishing the floor would swallow her forever.
“The ride back home was very tense. There was an impregnable wall of silence. I couldn’t even imagine what was going through his mind. One thing was for sure — there was no way out of this one. When we arrived back home … the house was very quiet.
“My father headed straight to my mother’s crystal cabinet. I silently watched him select a magnificent glass, one of a set of six my mother had coveted from the moment she laid eyes on them in one of her women’s magazines. She had finally arranged for them to be sent to her from London and they brought her great joy.
“From where I stood, I could see the glass sparkle as my father held it up to the light. ‘Do you see this?’ he asked, looking directly into my eyes.
“I held my breath and nodded. He paused for a split second ... then he opened his fingers. The glass crashed to the floor breaking into a million pieces. My eyes grew wide. My mouth fell open. My father was watching me piercingly, making sure I registered the seriousness of his action.
“Our eyes locked. ’That’s your life. You drop it once and you’ll never be able to put it back together again.’
“While I contemplated his words he fetched a broom and dustpan from the kitchen. ‘Now go to your room and think about it.’”
It takes a strong father to transform his teenage daughter’s disobedience into a permanent visual life lesson, one that would shape her into a strong and passionate woman of integrity and purpose.
Vicky went on to write, “My mother demanded perfection. My father demanded excellence.”
John Wilson was murdered in 1986 when thugs stole his car outside Kampala, Uganda, but his legacy lives on through his children.
Sylvia Peterson is co-pastor for Bald Hill Community Church and an author. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.