A touching Father’s Day profile from down in Georgia

A touching Father’s Day profile from down in Georgia June 15, 2014

It’s Father’s Day (and I need a nap after the special lunch my wife made), so I’m going to forgo a normal GetReligion critique.

Instead, I’m going to point you toward a touching feature about a father of 10, via the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer in Georgia:

Psalm 127 says a man with many children is like having a quiver full of arrows.

The Rev. Andy Merritt and his wife, Kathy, have taken that passage seriously — producing 10 children in their 40 years of marriage.

“The reason we wanted to have a large family is that we believe each of those arrows has a destiny and a target to hit,” said Merritt, reflecting on his life as a father. “We felt that probably the greatest way to impact the world we live in would be to raise children that would come to know Christ. We really viewed it as an opportunity to express our Christian faith and even advance it through the lives of our children.”

Merritt, 62, is senior pastor of Edgewood Baptist Church on Forrest Road, where he’s served for 37 years. He and his wife have three sons and seven daughters, from ages 39 to 19. All but the two youngest are now living on their own, and many have started their own families. Two of their sons are pastors, and most of the other children are in some form of ministry.

So far, the children have blessed the Merritts with 18 grandchildren.

Merritt said he’s not the perfect father, but he has relied on God for guidance.

“I came out of a broken home and always believed I came into marriage and family with a great deficiency,” he said. “I think I learned more from my errors than anything I’ve done right. It’s only been by God’s grace.”

Keep reading, and the reporter describes the parents’ faith journey and the inspiration behind their children’s names.

Then readers learn about Charissa, the Merritts’ youngest child:

Charissa has Down syndrome and is a competitive swimmer in the Special Olympics. Merritt said they learned of her condition the day of her birth.

“Kathy went through natural childbirth for all 10. So, it was a tradition that the baby be placed in her arms to immediately start bonding,” he said. “But Charissa had a breathing issue and had to be whisked off.”

When the doctor returned, he placed the baby on the bed between her two parents. He told them she had Down syndrome, but all they saw was a beautiful baby girl.

“Before we had an opportunity to react, it was like God walked into that room and we were both overcome with absolute pure joy,” Merritt said. “We received Charissa from that moment as a gift from God. We knew she would have some unique challenges but didn’t treat her any different than our other children.

“She’s a people person, very social, and has just been a delight to us, and all of her siblings.”

If you’re in the mood for a heartwarming story, enjoy this one.

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