Fathering the Fatherless: 4 Ways Changing Others Changes You -By Sam Roberts Jr
A Lesson Learned
I was nineteen when I joined a group called 'Men in the Arena.' One week, the topic of ‘fathering the fatherless’ came up. I didn’t have anything to add. I didn’t even have children of my own to father, but this idea that we are called to “father the fatherless” was burned into my mind.
Fast forward seven years to when I was married, had a little girl and was serving as the WyldLife area leader in Baker City, Oregon. A program was pitched to our church called 'Safe Families for Children.' The goal was to reach children and families in crisis before harm was done and to bring healing and Jesus to the home.
My wife, Beth, and I volunteered to be a host family, having no clue what we were in for. Nine children have come through our house in 18 months, and I am a different man for it. Here are four lessons I have learned.
Lesson #1: Fathering the Fatherless is a Mandate
First things first, we are called to father the fatherless. Notice how James 1:27 sums up the entire function of religion into just three actions, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”
Visit the orphans, and widows, and be holy. That means that all the other things are secondary! You can volunteer at church events, lead an awesome worship service, teach Sunday school, and be an all-around “good” Christian, but that doesn’t cut it. Jesus plainly says that to bring a child into our lives is to bring Him into our lives!
“Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me.” (Matthew 18:5)
Need more Jesus in your life? Good! Start by finding a fatherless child and bring them into your life. The U.S. Census Bureau says there are 19.5 million children living without a father in the home, so it should be easy to find one.
Lesson #2: You Don’t Have to Be the Best, Just Willing
Once at summer camp, the term “Father God” came up in my cabin and I was shocked that 8 out of 10 of my campers had broken relationships with their fathers. One boy quickly stood up and said, “I hope He is better than my father, he just donated what it took to make me and left.”
That man would have been the best father for that boy, but he wasn’t willing. There are so many people who are better equipped to help kids than my family, but they won’t get in the arena. You become qualified when you decide to get in the arena and be used by God to change a life.
Lesson #3: The Lord’s Refuge Is Powerful
We loaded up a 4-year-old, and twin 2-year-olds, said good night to their mom, and headed back to our house. This was our first assignment, and we had a good first night. The second night, I find myself holding a 2-year-old boy who is crying for his “dada,” pretty normal right? Nope, his “dada” is a pedophile, an abuser, a drunk, and a junkie.
I cried with this boy, scared of what baggage I had brought into my home, scared that I would be unable to bring peace to his life. I had no way to understand his life and trauma. I was the first safe man to hold him, and it wrecked me.
That was the first time in my life I cried out to God for help, and I learned what it means to find refuge in Him. By God’s strength only, my pregnant wife and I took care of those three kids, and our own daughter, for 8 weeks while both working full-time jobs. It was the largest faith-growing time of my life.
Lesson #4: It Doesn’t Take that Much Time
You don’t have to adopt, or foster, you just have to make a child feel important. Invite that boy who is living with his grandma to be part of your hobby and do it often. Take some extra time to get to know your kids’ friends when they come over, half of them likely don’t have a male role model.
In two weeks, my family was able to show two girls what God’s love is when their only experience with religion was a cult that controlled their lives. They left our home with a different view of God and His church, and it only took two weeks. There are fatherless kids all around you. Pick one of them and make them feel important every time you see them.
As a man, your influence is the most powerful weapon you have. Your influence in the life of a child or teen will set them on a course for victory or destruction. How will you use your influence? Are you ready to get out of the stands and change the lives around you?
About Sam Roberts
Sam Roberts is a Men in the Arena National Team Captain. He lives in Baker City, Oregon with his wife of nine years, Bethany, 5-year-old daughter Avery, and 2-year-old son Levi. Sam is a diesel mechanic, worship leader, and outdoorsman. He loves to serve the church, camping, fishing, hunting, and boating. His unwavering faith journey started as a young child and has been guided by many great men whom he is thankful for. His single sentence testimony is “God is always faithful.”