Frequency of Grace

Lessons from my father’s workshop

Whenever my father was quiet and distracted at supper, we knew he’d been working on a difficult radio repair that day and was either still trying to figure it out or drained after finishing the job. Sometimes he went back down to the shop after eating, because he’d promised the troublesome unit would be ready the next day.


Last night was one of those nights. My father Joseph Hovsepian, at nearly 77, still runs his electronics sales and service business, Radio Hovsep, in the now hip and artsy Plateau area of Montreal. As the only such business in the city, his shop has become something of a museum and landmark, and people come from all over, begging him to repair their grandparents’ Victrola or a vintage furniture radio they found through Craigslist.

Recently, someone brought him a European-made Normandy table radio, around 50 years old. “It was completely dead,” Dad later told me. He plugged it in, did the usual quick visual check for burnt lamps and audio check for sound. There was a glimmer of life but not much else, so he tested the tubes. They were all weak, so he carefully replaced each one. Still nothing. So he tested voltages and the capacitors, replaced more weak parts, and eventually put in a new tuner. Finally, after an almost complete overhaul, a thorough cleaning of the interior and exterior, and a few adjustments, the radio crackled back to life.

Moments like this are common in Dad’s line of work, but that doesn’t make them any less miraculous to me. His shelves and worktables are filled with radios and tape recorders that have been neglected in a basement or garage for years. Often they’re filled with dirt, dead bugs, and even mouse droppings. The wiring and parts inside are rusty, dried up, melted, or burned, the exteriors scratched up and discolored. Yet he takes great pleasure in the process of cleaning and repairing each item brought to him. He says, “While I work on these units, I think of God and His workshop, where He takes battered and neglected lives and deals with every little part of them. He fixes what’s broken, cleans and polishes what’s tarnished or soiled, and refines the entire person. He removes bad habits, addictions, and vices that have affected the lost soul. Sometimes the process is quick, but sometimes it’s more painful.”

We can come back to God again and again to receive His fine-tuned care and correction, and He’ll never turn us away.

He’s seen firsthand how a patient, masterful touch can make all the difference for a radio, so Dad approaches people with understanding and compassion, knowing they can likewise be restored with God’s help. “I have seen many radios that were discarded or even thrown in the street become useful and enjoyable again,” he says. “I have also seen many broken and rejected souls come back to life after the master Technician touched them and restored them.”

And when it comes down to it, that’s exactly what God has done with each of His children, and will continue to do, until His work in us is perfected—not on a workbench, but within the space of our own hearts. That’s the beauty of having a relationship with Him: We can come back again and again to receive His fine-tuned care and correction, and He’ll never turn us away.


Photography by Alexis Livingston

Related Topics:  Work

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