Nine and eleven year old sisters on our child sponsorship program lost their aunt recently. Four years ago when their parents passed away their aunt took them in. Unfortunately the husband of their aunt refused to take responsibility whatsoever for the children. The aunt was left with the enormous, lonely and frightening responsibility of looking after these kids on her own. One of the greatest tragedies facing children today is living in a home without a father figure. Without a willing husband the aunt carried the entire financial, emotional, educational, and spiritual burden of raising these girls on her own. Can you imagine what the future holds for these children? At the cemetery, as their aunt was being buried, the two girls held on to the legs of their pastor’s wife weeping uncontrollably.

As a preacher I spend most of my time serving the church in extremely challenged communities. Frequently I am confronted with the pain, frustration, confusion, anger and devastation of children without fathers. The number of children being raised without a father figure in the home is staggering. The men are absent because they contracted AIDS and have passed on, or because they got someone pregnant without any intention of becoming a father. We now have entire communities without male role models to watch out for the well being of rebellious boys and girls. Many of the youth in these communities will never attend a wedding or have a firsthand glimpse into what love looks like between committed married couples. Absentee fathers are not only a problem for poor communities. Middle and high income children face similar struggles for different reasons. Play Station 3, DSTV, and corporate achievement have been the substitute or accomplice for absentee fathers in these communities.

In 1 Thessalonians 2, Paul’s testimony of the church in a community gives us a good example of how we can care for the fatherless in our community. Paul says we are to treat those who are young in the faith with tenderness like a mother caring for her children. We ought to plead, encourage and urge believers like a father does with his own children. From this passage we can assume that the church ought to be a visual image of a mother and a father to children without fathers. The church must take orphaned children under their wings until they are mature enough to stand firm in their faith and livelihood. Every church should desire to be a hero to orphans, inspiring them with the possibilities for life with Christ.

It was not by coincidence that these two girls held onto the legs of their pastor’s wife when they were at their lowest. From a young age the church has been encouraging them, teaching them biblical truth, comforting them, and urging them to live lives worthy of the call God has placed on their lives as His children. Please pray that this church will continue to care for these girls. Pray that your own church would be a mother and a father to every child without one in your local church. Pray that the Lord of hosts provides resources to feed and care for such children. Pray that the Lord would give you so much love for these children that you would not only share God’s Word with them, but also your very life.

Lawrence Temfwe