Fathers in the Field

Faith • Fatherhood • Forgiveness

Word From Base Camp: FATHERHOOD

By John Smithbaker

FATHERHOOD In today’s world where fatherhood is often reduced to little more than a DNA donation, the Father of all Creation tells us something very different about fatherhood.

“You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased.”

In all of human history, no words of affirmation from a father to a son have been more awe-inspiring, hope-filled, and loving! Can you imagine standing on the banks of the Jordan River that day some two-thousand years ago when Heaven opened up and God the Father publicly declared His approval and love for His Son Jesus?! Father God, telling all who had ears to hear in that moment and for centuries to come, that Jesus, His Son, carried with Him to earth His Father’s stamp of approval. Wow! Those divine words of affirmation and encouragement not only empowered Jesus for what lay ahead of Him, but they confirmed to the world exactly who He is—the beloved Son of God.

It is a divine blessing, modeled by God Himself, for a son to know the love of his father. That love is foundational to the son’s development and self-awareness. The true act of fatherhood is not the transference of DNA, but the passing on of love, identity, and affirmation to the son. When that fatherly love is withdrawn or denied, a boy is left with a gaping hole in his heart—a wound of abandonment that relentlessly gnaws at his soul, constantly taunting him and telling him that he is worthless, forgotten, and alone.

I know because I was that boy. Before I was even born, my father left me, my mom, and my sister for another family. As I grew up, I felt like I was nothing more than a piece of garbage to my dad. Oh, how my heart ached to hear those words from my father—“You are my beloved son, John. In you I am well-pleased.” For decades I thought that if my dad would tell me that he loved me…that I mattered to him… that he was pleased with me… that he regretted leaving me …then my heart would be whole and my life would be complete. Then, everyone would know that John Smithbaker isn’t worthless. Then, I could finally stop trying to prove to the world that I was someone special.

Sadly, this is not only my story but the story of millions of boys—some of them living in your neighborhood. Maybe one or more even live in your home.

Father abandonment—when a father leaves the home to allow someone else to raise his children—is tearing apart the fabric of our society. God gave us the family unit to serve as a fortress in a fallen world. A father’s job is to man the fortress and protect and pastor his children. He is called to provide not only for his children’s physical needs, but also to meet their spiritual needs to know and fear the Lord.

When a dad abandons that fortress, he leaves his family wide open for enemy attack. Did you know that more than 2/3 of our nation’s prison inmates grew up without a father in the home? Fatherless children are twice as likely to drop out of school. Additionally, kids without the father in the home are at a dramatically higher risk for substance abuse and suicide. And those are just some of the consequences we can count. There is no telling the kind of spiritual havoc we are encountering as a result of father abandonment. Without question, a father’s absence opens the door for darkness and creates chaos in a family and in society at large.

With nearly 24 million kids living absent their biological fathers today, the situation is grim. But it is not hopeless.

First, we need to stand up for families and encourage fathers to stay the course. Don’t wave the white flag. Fight for your kids!

Second, we need to stand in where a father is absent from the home. In this issue of Field Notes, we introduce you to two different families that are learning about the power of mentor fathers. I pray that you will be encouraged and inspired by their stories.

Finally, we can have hope in knowing that we have a Father in Heaven who will never leave or forsake us…no matter how tough things get! This is the life-saving truth that rescued me from the abandonment wound inflicted on me by my dad. He never was able to say to me, “You are my beloved son, John. In you I am well-pleased.” I regret that. But his abandonment no longer threatens my future or that of my family. Through the saving grace of Christ and the love of my Father in Heaven, I have been able to forgive my dad and heal the wound of abandonment. The cycle of abandonment that leads to self-destruction and broken families ends with me. I can now protect and pastor my own children as I am called to do.

This is why Fathers in the Field exists—to give abandoned boys the hope and healing that they so desperately need, and to end the cycle of abandonment that is destroying our families and our country, and to restore true fatherhood in America.

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