Thursday, March 7, 2013

"Where is my Dad?"

"Where is my Dad?" the young boy cried. "I want my Dad." He was only two or three then, but at church and the daycare, he saw that other kids have dads, so he must have one, too. His mom explained that he has two brothers, but no dad in the home, because she is a single mom. He listened, and he loves his mom and his brothers, but still, he longs for a dad.
 
In Church for the Fatherless published by www.ivpress.com,  Rev Mark E. Strong writes of his concern for the children, both boys and girls, who are fatherless and what the church can do to help them. Pastor Strong offers examples of  families who have struggled with this ever-rising problem of no father in the home, or with a father who is "not loving and merciful, but harsh and overbearing."
 
Strong notes that more than 40% of children in the U.S. live apart from their fathers and that number continues to rise. He believes that "the church as God’s redemptive agent in the community has a responsibility" to address this growing problem. His goal with this book is to help readers "gain a deeper understanding of the problems surrounding the issue of fatherlessness; to share some practical and doable ways your church, ministry, or organization can serve the fatherless; and to inspire and encourage you to engage in and be a part of God’s answer to fill the fatherless void."
 
Strong says that ministry to the fatherless is not just an option, it is a biblical mandate. He reminds readers that in Psalm 68:5, God is called "a father to the fatherless," and in the Old Testament, over 40 Scripture passages "make ministry to the fatherless a priority and a matter of justice" for the community. And the fatherless problem is not limited to a single ethnic group. Just look around. Rich, poor, white, black, brown, yellow, red, mixed—all are affected.
 
Churches can be mobilized to help. Strong suggests starting a small group for fathers in your church. "Keep it simple and make it fun." Church members can be taught to be mentors to the children in the church who lack a father in the home, much as Paul and Timothy’s relationship in the Bible. See 1 Corinthians and the Letters to Timothy in the New Testament.
 
Strong shares many practical tips on how to help the fatherless find "a healing path for their wounds." How to get started? "Begin. Be encouraged, connected, equipped, thankful, joyful, smart, tenacious, prayerful and, most of all, believe." Faith in God is required when working with the fatherless. You and your church can make a difference. Go ahead! Start now!
 
—Lois Sibley