American Family Association has always been about families. It’s in the name. Even beyond the articles, radio shows, and newsletters, family is central to the legacy of AFA in a very personal sense.
Dr. Don Wildmon, who founded AFA in 1977 (at that time named the National Federation for Decency), was a family man. The vision began with a concern for the things his four children were seeing on television. Understanding his God-given role as a parent and guardian of his children’s minds, he took action. His son Tim Wildmon, now president of AFA, follows in his footsteps, setting the course for the organization and defending the biblical family values passed on by his father.
The importance of fathers in the family cannot be overstated. While there are many examples both of fathers who failed in their roles and families raised successfully by a single mother, there is no questioning the impact of a godly father in a child’s life.
Teaching them diligently
Wesley Wildmon, Tim Wildmon’s oldest son, works at AFA as the director of outreach. He described how his relationship with his father impacted him from his childhood.
“Dad always led by example,” said Wesley. “I can remember a few times when he would speak up and tell me that he didn’t agree with my actions or decisions based on Scripture. He always lived a life of faithfulness, and his lifestyle spoke way louder than any words. He didn’t use a whole lot of words. It reminds me of when Paul says, ‘Follow me as I follow Christ.’ That’s how my dad was.”
The Bible often speaks of raising children in righteousness and passing on a heritage to the next generation. Proverbs 22:6 states the promise that if parents “Train up a child in the way he should go…when he is old he will not depart from it.” Spiritual discipleship of children is commanded in Deuteronomy 6:6-7:
And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.
While it seems to be difficult to find fathers who are so biblically involved with their children in today’s world, there are men who remain faithful and devoted to passing on a spiritual heritage.
“Dad taught us kids on an individual basis,” said Wesley. “We would be on the way to a ball game or driving across town, and he would talk to us about the things his own father had taught him – things we’re now passing on to our kids. That was his teaching style: personal and conversational. We could be in the parking lot of a restaurant having a conversation about how to be a dad. He always found common ground with each of his kids, depending on their likes, dislikes, and passions.
“He had a spiritual gift of being patient and rational. He had a way of thinking things through in his actions and responses that may have seemed as if he was taking too long to react, but when he did, you realized why he took so much care. It’s not that he was careless at all, he was just patient. Patient is a good word to describe him.”
Taking the baton
In a prayer he wrote for his children, Don Wildmon said, “Dear God, help me to prepare my children for marriage by being a good husband to their mother. If I’m a good husband, maybe it will help them when it becomes time for them to take a life partner.”
“The number one thing, hands down, that affected me about my dad was the way he treated my mother,” said Wesley. “Certainly he did family worship and taught us kids on a one-on-one level, but the way he loved and cared for my mom scripturally stood out above all else.”
The impact of a godly father changes more than one life; it has a multigenerational effect. The example Don Wildmon set for his children shaped the man his son Tim became, and in turn shaped his grandchildren. Now with children of their own, the younger generation of Wildmons has taken up the baton of passing on a godly heritage.
“Being a father has taught me that God is patient and caring, and He loves us,” said Wesley. “He is supremely concerned about His glory, but that is demonstrated in how He cares about His children. He wants us to be more like him. He disciplines us because He loves us, not out of frustration. He is not like us at all.
“Because of this, I certainly want to pass along the gospel to my children, but just as much, I want to pass on how the gospel is to be lived out in our lives. I want to pass on a way of living that preaches the gospel; a lifestyle of evangelism. Many people have the gift of being able to audibly preach the gospel, but we all ought to live a life of faithfulness that makes people think, “There’s something different about him.”
“I also want to pass on a hunger and thirst for righteousness on an extraordinary level. I have had plenty of opportunities to be passive and not intentional in my own life in regards to growing in righteousness, but instead, I now strive for righteousness’ sake. Those times really shaped who I am today, and I want to instill that in my own son.”
Tending a legacy
Proverbs 20:7 says, “The righteous man walks in his integrity; his children are blessed after him.” This is the design of biblical fatherhood put forth by God since the beginning of families. Fathers who love the Lord and follow after Him with all their hearts leave their children with a legacy of blessing and a responsibility to uphold it. God’s desire is to see wave after wave of godly and righteous men raising their children in His statutes, each generation marking the world for His glory.
“When I go to donor events, I’m always reminded of Pawpaw and Dad’s legacy,” said Wesley. “I feel like I just go to work every day and do what I’m supposed to do, but people always come up to me and say that my pawpaw and my dad are inspirations and examples of righteousness. They see them as heroes, and by nature, they look at me the same way. I understand I haven’t accomplished anything compared to what they have done, but it makes me conscious of the way I live and the example I set. This legacy is something I can’t be careless with.”
R E S O U R C E
Fathers of Vision reminds fathers of their high calling and offers practical steps toward establishing a biblical pattern of discipleship in the home. Available at afastore.net or 877-927-4917.