Losing father part of God’s plan for me’
While some view Father’s Day as a time of celebration, Tricray Astwood sees it as an opportunity to reflect.
The gospel singer was just 9 when his father died suddenly.
Craig Astwood, who had surrendered his life to the Lord only months earlier, was on his way to a church meeting when his motorcycle and a van collided head-on.
“When it first happened I definitely questioned the Lord, ‘Why?’” Mr Astwood said. “But as time moved on I grew to understand that my dad’s death was pivotal in me becoming the Christian that I am today.
“At my father’s funeral, Bishop Neville Smith said to those in attendance: ‘For those of you who don’t plan on receiving Christ into your heart, then this will be a farewell to Craig. But, for those of you who intend on receiving Christ into your heart, this is simply a goodbye for now.’
“That was the first time I had heard the gospel of Jesus Christ and, as a young kid hearing that there was a chance to see my dad again, of course I wanted to do whatever it took to make that happen.”
Mr Astwood decided to get to know God for himself as a way to process his grief. Talking with the school guidance counsellor was also a big help.
“My school friends were very supportive at that time but God was the main reason I got through it all,” he said. “He is sovereign, and managed to use one of the most painful experiences of my life to draw me closer to Him. Ever since that day I’ve been committed to following Jesus and by the time I grew into my teenage years, I realised that everything God does is for a reason.
“That’s when I began to accept my father’s death as a part of God’s plan for my life.”
He remembers his dad as a “very happy and outgoing person” who loved music, was very stylish and much loved and respected by friends and acquaintances.
“Growing up, there was always music playing in the house,” he said. “That’s where I think my passion for music stems from. My dad was always playing songs wherever he went and from what I remember, he enjoyed it very much. I definitely can say that his love for different genres of music helped shape my passion for singing today.”
Mr Astwood’s gospel group Last Call signed with the DarkChild Gospel label in April just as their song Victory hit the number one spot on the Billboard gospel charts, and held it for 20 weeks.
The singer’s wish, more than anything, is that his dad was able to see him accomplish such career milestones and be at his wedding to Capri Wilson this year.
“If I could tell my dad anything this Father’s Day I would thank him for the years that I did have with him,” Mr Astwood said. “I would want to show him everything that’s been happening with me since he passed. I’ve had a great life. I’m sure he would be very proud of my career and even more proud that I’m getting married soon.”
One thing that brings the 32-year-old singer a sense of peace is knowing that his father developed a relationship with Jesus before his death.
“Knowing that he gave his heart to God brings me total comfort and peace because I know I’ll see him again,” he said. “Once I started to really know God for myself that’s when I realised that my dad’s passing was a part of God’s ultimate plan. Although it was a challenging time in my life, it showed me that no matter what I go through God will see me through and I will make it out all right.
“Those tough times also taught me how to lean on the Lord in every situation and in everything that came my way. I’ve learnt to live a life with Him walking with me every step of the way, and I don’t do anything without praying about it first.”