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The Dad Who Rescued Me

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AP Photo/Intelligencer Journal, Marty Heisey

Last Friday, January 22, was the most painful day of my life. I lost the most incredible man I ever knew: my Dad. I tried to articulate some of my thoughts on social media:

Today is the most painful day of my life, yet like my Dad always said: "Rejoice in the Lord, always, and again I say rejoice." So, I rejoice that this morning at 6:23am, Heaven gained a beautiful soul who loved Jesus and people (especially his family) with his whole heart. Henry Bomberger was a man who embodied what it means to be a man of God. Today, a man who exemplified what it means to be pro-life—a father who adopted and loved thirteen children (in addition to three biological children)—met the Father to the fatherless. Henry Bomberger is not a name anyone will see in news articles or in history books, but his impact in this world has and will cause the most beautiful reverberations for generations. He was loved by everyone who knew him, especially his family. He modeled, so beautifully, how a husband loves and cares for his wife. He was a champion to those of us wrongly labeled "unwanted". He was a humble hero to those who were hurting. He was proof for those who wanted to know that God is real. 

After 12 years of fighting Parkinson's, he is finally healed. Love you Dad more than words can ever express.

This week, my family and I celebrated his remarkable life. He was a man who loved so deeply and was so deeply loved. Though his body was put into the ground, his legacy lives on. 

My dad chose to be the father to children that other men abandoned. He rescued us. He didn’t see through the world’s broken filter; he saw each of us through God’s breakthrough filter. Henry Bomberger saw beautiful possibility in each of us, sacrificing himself in so many ways so that we could walk into the Destiny emblazoned on our lives. My mom and dad shattered the myth of the “unwanted” child. And with each struggle, each joy, each son and daughter, they proved there is no such thing as “unwanted.”

I don’t look like my dad. My skin is brown. His was off-white. I was adopted and loved. In fact, I was the first one adopted. It obviously went well. Each year a new flavor was added to the family. My siblings are all different shades with various and heartbreaking backstories. I was conceived in rape. That never kept my dad from calling me his own. He embraced each of our stories, with all of the unexpected twists and turns, with open arms and helped to change our narratives. He taught me what grace looks and feels like. My dad’s devotion to us showed so clearly that it’s not blood that binds us. It’s not color. It’s love. And he loved us unconditionally

He was soft-spoken but carried a profound power within him. His faith spoke loudly. Everyone who knew him knew that he wasn’t just someone who believed in God, he lived it out with integrity. My dad was the same person at home as he was in public. His genuineness, his compassion, his generosity, and his passion to serve others made him a beloved leader in the community. I’ll never forget seeing my dad, as the owner of a retail store with nearly two hundred employees, sweeping the floors, shoveling the ice, or making coffee. There was no task beneath him. It’s just one of the many things that endeared his employees to him and what taught each Bomberger kid a valuable work ethic. 

Henry Bomberger was a man who loved to laugh. If you chose to raise thirteen teenagers, you’d have to laugh, too! He found the humor in everything. Sometimes, he enjoyed the shock of saying the unexpected just to get your attention. I really miss that laugh.

Whether it was pummeling us in tennis, swimming in the local pool until the lights came on at night, taking us on bike rides on those country roads, sitting and worshipping with us in church, my Dad never missed a moment to let us know we were loved. In a culture that tries to pretend that dads are optional, his life was evidence that a dad is irreplaceable. 

He is the reason why I am the husband and father that I am today. He is the reason why my amazing wife, Bethany, and I creatively illuminate that every life has purpose through our Radiance Foundation. He is the reason that I see God the Father as a good and loving Father. His passion for the Bible—which became mine as well—is why I know that I will see him again.

The world doesn’t know what it truly lost a few days ago. But I do. Henry Bomberger made the world a better and kinder and more forgiving place. His is a legacy I’m so honored to carry.

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