Fathering the Fatherless
1 Sam 20:42 (NLT) “At last Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace, for we have sworn loyalty to each other in the LORD’s name. The LORD is the witness of a bond between us and our children forever.”
2 Sam 9:6 – 7 (NKJV) “Now when Mephibosheth the son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, had come to David, he fell on his face and prostrated himself. Then David said, ‘Mephibosheth?’ And he answered, ‘Here is your servant!’ So David said to him, ‘Do not fear, for I will surely show you kindness for Jonathan your father’s sake, and will restore to you all the land of Saul your grandfather; and you shall eat bread at my table continually.’”
We see in the Scriptures from Samuel above that David fulfilled a promise to Jonathan to take care of his son if anything were to happen to him. From David’s example, we can see that fathering doesn't always necessarily imply a DNA connection or even a legal connection. We have a responsibility to find those who are fatherless and extend the grace of fathering that has been bestowed upon us to them. We don't often have to look far to find them.
There are those right in our own community that are fatherless. These kids and even young men and women need the mentoring, loving, supportive grace of a father. They need a father's touch, his direction, mentoring, his firm influence, his affirming presence.
It’s as if I just heard someone reading this say I don’t have the resources to extend help to any more children. That’s where faith comes in. There were many times that I didn’t have the faith to provide things for my own children and had to use my faith to get them. Likewise, I have often had to use my faith and ask God for the resources to meet the needs of other children that He put on my heart. In 2 Corinthians chapter 9, the Bible says that God gives seed to the sower. It also says that we should give what we decide in our heart to give and that God will give us the grace to give generously. Finally, the chapter says that our generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. I have witnessed this many times. I have seen this grace for giving equip me to meet the needs of many other children outside my own. I have also been blessed to see the “thanksgiving to God” promised in Scripture that manifests as needs in their lives are met.
I have seen this grace grow as I learned to receive it by faith. It started out small with a small group of kids in the heart of Compton that I was led to sow into. I’d met these kids through an aviation program I became affiliated with. I sowed time which took the form of tutoring, mentoring, playing basketball, going to Six Flags, etc. Now all these kids are adults and I still have a mentoring relationship with a few of them today.
Later in Phoenix, I was fortunate to serve as a teacher in an inner-city school where over 90 percent of the kids fell below the poverty line. I was now encountering over 400 kids daily that had needs for many basic things. As I decided which needs I wanted to meet, I saw the grace of God manifest and I was able to help kids get school uniforms, backpacks, shoes, sports equipment, food, special snacks or small gifts on their birthday, transportation etc.
In one specific faith project, I decided that I would give the last kindergarten class of the day graham crackers each day after class before they went home. For a year, I was able to give about 30 kids graham crackers nearly every day before they went home. Later we received a grant for an after-school program so I was able to continue this on a smaller scale for those kids who did not attend the afterschool program.
Food was such a need for some of these kids that they often would try to save the food I gave them and take it home to share with siblings. To several of the kids, God led me to do more and I took those kids to movies, or out to eat, or had them and often their parents in my home. For a select few, even more significant relationships have developed between myself, the kids, and their parents.
You may say but I’m not a dad, I don’t have fathering skills that I can extend toward someone’s child. Fathering is something that I do by the grace of God, even with my own kids. There are many situations that have stumped me with my own kids. When I did not know the best way to approach a particular situation, the grace and wisdom of God were available to equip me. If God places a desire in your heart to extend the love of a father to a child in the ways that I have described, He will give you the grace and the wisdom needed to do it. I have had to ask for grace and wisdom as I tried to father other people’s kids, who have a different upbringing than my kids or have a different cultural/ethnic background than I have.
All you need is love, the willingness to extend that love, and the humility to ask God for the grace and wisdom to do the rest.
Reflection: Are there kids that God kids that God has placed on my heart to minister the love of a father to? Am I open to hearing this from God? What steps do I need to take to close the gap between the call to action that I sense in my heart and the actions that I have taken.
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