How much faith does a man have to have to ask God to stop the rain?
My Dad, Bishop Frank Tamel, was such a man. He was founder, pastor, and Pastor Emeritus of Parkway Apostolic Church on Oak Creek, Wisconsin. He passed away last Monday at the age of 90.
A self-made, Dad was a mountain in my eyes, rock solid and unmovable; completely honest yet humble. He came up through the ranks of the union movement, and later served as a member of a corporate management team. I don't think that he identified himself with any specific political party and would have described his affiliation as a Christian conservative who leaned Republican.
When he decided to serve his creator as a pastor at the age of fifty, he never wavered and grew his church from a small group of about twenty believers, mostly family members, to a congregation of over 1,000 strong. He mentored dozens of young people who became ministers and missionaries and was instrumental in the formation of over a dozen daughter churches throughout the Milwaukee area, most of which are located in the inner-city and Hispanic neighborhoods. His influence was felt by thousands of apostolic believers worldwide.
He didn't hold a theology degree, never attended seminary, and had no formal Bible training. Instead he studied relentlessly, prayed constantly, and, like the prophets and apostles of old he walked by faith.
Parkway Apostolic had just completed the construction of a new building and the church grounds needed some work. A truckload of sod was delivered and about twenty of the church's members gathered on a Saturday morning to lay and roll the sod. Dad wouldn't ask anyone to do anything he wasn't willing to do himself, so he determined to work alongside the crew.
Just as they began working it started to rain. Dad gathered his workers around and said, let's pray. Then he turned his eyes skyward and said, "Lord, we need to get this sod laid and this is the only day on which we can do it. Please stop the rain until we are finished." A few minutes later the rain stopped.
The sky remained gray and threatening all day, but the rain held off until the last roll was in place. Then Dad gathered his work crew again. Raising his eyes skyward once more, he prayed. "Thank you, Lord, for allowing us to complete this job. You can let it rain now."
Sure enough, the rain began falling; a soft, steady farmer's rain all night long.
That was my dad: a genuine man of God who never let a little weather get in the way of his faith.