Guenther Mischke was married to my mom, Hannelore, and the father to my sisters Karin and Ursula and me. He was a German immigrant and he loved the Lord in his own way. Living in Rochester, NY, he attended a Baptist church with many German-background families for nearly 40 years. He also suffered from severe bi-polar illness. He had a great sense of humor, and oh, how he loved my mom, and my two sisters and I. He died in 1992 from a heart attack at age 68.
My relationship with my dad was complicated. Here’s the story of how he gave me his blessing.
I had been married for 14 years. My wife Daphne with our two sons were living In Lee, Massachusetts, serving as members of a small Baptist church. And I was in transition—from being a small business owner—to taking a step of faith into the world of global missions.
I wanted to leave my graphic design business and work with evangelist Bob Schindler, who had just founded a cross-cultural partnership ministry called Mission ONE. I had to tell my parents what I was planning to do. My decision required moving from Massachusetts to Tennessee—1500 miles away—with my wife Daphne and two boys. A drastic move like this meant I would not see my parents as often.
In the fall of ’91, Daphne and I were visiting my parents in Rochester. My dad had begun kidney dialysis treatments. I knew I had to share my plans with him individually. He was proud of me for owning my own business, and he loved the periodic visits we made to see them, so I honestly did not know how he would react to my announcement. Would he be disappointed? Mad? Confused?
Daphne had gone shopping with my mother. So there we were, just Pop and me, in the small living room in their apartment. I presented my plans, and why I wanted to make such a radical change in our lives. The financial outlook was uncertain. I wasn’t completely sure how I would support my family. But I was undeterred. I said something like this, “This is my desire—to serve with Bob Schindler in the ministry of Mission ONE—and I think somehow it will all work out. We are trusting God.”
I explained the big move my family and I were planning to make. Then I asked, “So Pop, what do you think?” I waited for his response.
“Werner, we are behind you one-hundred percent, whatever you do.”
Immediately, my eyes filled with tears. I got up from the couch and hugged him. Pop kissed me. Together we embraced. My tears took me by surprise.
Despite Pop’s bipolar illness, he loved me. Despite my need to compensate for his weaknesses, he gave me his blessing.
A few months later, in January of 1992, Pop passed away. I was honored to give his eulogy at his memorial service.
There is much that I wish I could have received from Pop—counsel, friendship, financial assistance, spiritual encouragement. I had decided not to ask for what I knew he was unable to give.
But the one thing I needed most I did receive—the honor of his blessing. I am forever grateful.