First Priority

From hate crimes to Hollywood violence—why fathers hold the keys to a nation’s healing.

He looked like most kids in high school during the early '70s. His hair was long. He loved to party. He had little in common with his parents. His father physically punished him regularly for not doing better in school, even though he tried. His father was so busy trying to pastor a church and work another job to support the family that he could rarely spend any time with his son. The young man had no interest in the things of God and began to resent Him just as he did his own father. He turned to drugs and alcohol and any form of acceptance he could find outside the home. He led his friends into the same rebellious lifestyle.

Then God gave him what he didn't deserve … salvation. His life completely changed after an amazing prophetic encounter at a rock concert. He began serving the Lord wholeheartedly and continues to this day. Yet, it would be years before the healing between the resentful son and his father would occur. And with that healing, a whole new horizon would open.

You see, I am the boy in the story. Even though I had been in ministry for many years, I really didn't understand the importance of the relationship between fathers and sons. In my mind, I had forgiven my father, hoped he had forgiven me and moved on. I taught the Word, graduated from seminary with a doctorate, planted churches and evangelized with God's undeserved favor upon me. I even saw many physically healed.

Yet, it took "divine floor time" in Toronto, in 1994 to show me there was so much more that needed to be dealt with in my heart. It began with the revelation that I still carried a world of bitterness connected to the hurts with my father.

My dad came to this country from war-torn Korea, and did the best he could to provide a good education and future for his family. He was (and is) an admired Christian man. Yet, like any human, he is not perfect. Because I had no understanding of Father God's love, acceptance and forgiveness, I had never been able to give that kind of love to others.

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We live in a world of similar devastation. Many kids are emotionally fatherless. Many more are from divorced homes. AIDS has taken countless fathers in other nations. The gaping wounds we behold in Hollywood violence, gang crime, worldwide pornography, hate crimes and even abortion have their roots in this very relationship of fathers and sons.

The Bible declares that before the return of the Lord, things will change: " 'Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet … and he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse' " (Mal. 4:5-6, NKJV). God wants to reverse the curse!

God is hunting for His sons to heal them and to raise them up. God is seeking out the fathers to forgive and strengthen them so they can labor and love in the harvest. After all, the most significant relationship Father God ever had was with His Son. How could our relationships be any less significant? If we can't love and forgive each other, we don't love God (see 1 John 4:20).

I found that out as a grown man more than 10 years ago. I craved to experience the Father's love I had heard about in the Toronto revival and went there to receive it. Instead, as the manifest presence of God came upon me and I slid to the floor, I saw unveiled before my eyes the relationship with my dad that had never been healed for some 24 years. I felt the love of God drawing me to work it out—and realizing that, by His mercy, He was revealing this area of hidden pain to set us both free.

When I returned to my home in Pasadena, Calif., I knew I needed to talk to my father. Faithful God set up the perfect opportunity when my parents flew to California to take part in my brother's wedding in 1996.

I was able to meet with my dad privately. I confessed to him that I had not been a "model kid," and we both had a good laugh about that understatement. I told him the truth about my pain and rejection. He was stunned. I didn't expect him to apologize, but felt I needed to "own" my hurt and ask his forgiveness. Yet, just hours later, he spoke to me by phone from the hotel and asked for forgiveness for what he had done wrong to me. I forgave him wholeheartedly, only to hear him say, "Son, you know how proud I am of you. And I love you very much." Astounded, I uttered, "Dad, I love you, too!"

From that moment, God has given such a release in my life that I now father others—whether they are my children, someone else's or wounded adults. I am so secure in His love that I can receive it and give it away to individuals or movements alike!

I encourage you to drink in the spirit of Elijah, and take your place to restore the hearts of the fathers to the children and the children to the fathers. I have joyous proof that there are no ends to the rewards.


Ché Ahn and his wife, Sue, are senior pastors of Harvest Rock Church in Pasadena, California, and the author of several books. For more information, visit harvestrockchurch.org.

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