The devastating implications of the fatherhood abandonment crisis in our nation are far-reaching and profound. They extend beyond the direct impact on individuals, broken families and communities. Hurting and broken men are part of the fabric of every organization, institution and they even fill our churches.
This pervasive societal sickness undergirds the generational breakdown of the family structure and fuels the growing cultural downward spiral we witness all around us today. This foundational collapse demands immediate attention and focused intervention of the local Christian church.
The insidious epidemic of fatherhood abandonment has become one of the most pressing social problems we’re facing as a nation, impacting the lives of millions of children. The odds for health and success are stacked against kids who grow up without a father present in the home. As they grow from children into adulthood, they’re more likely to live in poverty, abuse drugs and alcohol, commit crime, experience early sexual activity and even contemplate suicide.
Children from fatherless homes account for:
- 63% of youth suicides.
- 71% of pregnant teenagers.
- 90% of runaway or homeless kids.
- 85% of youth sitting in prisons.
- 71% of high school dropouts.
- 75% of teens in drug treatment.
In the United States alone, there are more than 25 million fatherless children. This staggering figure represents a missionary field of epic proportion — right in our own backyard. There’s a profound opportunity for local churches to be cultural change agents in their communities by standing in the gap for children experiencing fatherlessness. They’re not hard to find if you have the courage to look for them. Ignoring these hurting fatherless boys is a silent crime, the impact of which screams loudly as you look at every dark corner, rehab facility, jail, and unemployment office.
The consequences of fatherhood abandonment cannot be ignored
The absence of a father figure leaves a void in a child’s life that is almost impossible to fill. Even when a single mother, with strength and determination, works tirelessly to provide the best possible life and family environment for her children, there remains an undeniable truth — we all possess an innate longing for the unique leadership, protection, guidance into manhood and approval that a father can and should provide.
When the critically important role father model is missing in the home, be it from direct abandonment, death, divorce or another cause, children are left with a deep sense of emptiness and often develop a lack of self-worth that manifests itself in various ways throughout their lives.
This void often leads to feelings of loneliness, confusion and a struggle to find a sense of identity and purpose. Moreover, the burden of unforgiveness toward their earthly fathers weighs heavily on their hearts and becomes a deep soul wound that many boys carry with them throughout their lives. The consequences of this unforgiveness are significant and can cause a cycle of fatherhood abandonment from one generation to the next.
However, where there is courage there is also hope. This issue is solvable and practical solutions are right before us. In Isaiah 1:17, the Lord called the Church to “Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.”
How do we take up the cause of the fatherless? Churches have a powerful resource that is often untapped and underutilized — the men in their congregation. These men of faith and service might possess parenting experience from having children themselves or having mentored a boy as an uncle or grandfather. Even single men who are mature Christ followers have much to offer fatherless boys. They all have one thing in common — they understand the power of a dad’s role in shaping a child’s life from first-hand experience.
The development of an effective ministry outreach that recruits and engages mentor men as champions for fatherless boys who are deprived of a father in their home is a must for every church. Men in the church can model what it means to be a godly man in this world and help guide abandoned fatherless boys in building life-long values. Single mothers will know that they’re not alone in their struggle to raise a family by themselves. For the mentors who come alongside fatherless boys, sharing their time and faith is a richly rewarding experience too. For your church, it’s a local mercy ministry that is proven to have great impact. For those suffering from abandonment, it reveals the steadfast nature of our Heavenly Father’s love for every one of His children.
There is no time to waste! We must respond to the epidemic of fatherhood abandonment now. Our nation’s strength lies in the foundation of the family — a structure ordained by God to be a fortress in this fallen world. Satan has relentlessly attacked our families, distorting the roles that fathers were intended to fulfill as Pastors, Providers and Protectors of God’s children. We cannot allow the assault on family, on masculinity, on marriage and on the souls of our precious children to continue unchecked. As members of God’s Church, let’s unite as His hands and feet to confront the enemy’s ploys and provide a brighter future for all our nation’s children.
John J. Smithbaker is an author, speaker, founding servant of Fathers in the Field, and an Alpha male activator. His passion and focus are to help men recapture their divinely assigned roles of Pastor, Provider and Protector in the home, as well as in the Church. As a gifted leader, Smithbaker combines his personal experience and straight-forward style to connect and speak with men who have been held back from becoming the man God designed and are instead suffering through the brokenness pain and the anger of being left behind by their earthly father. His latest book, Man Enough to Forgive: Healing the Wounds of Fatherhood Abandonment is available now.
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