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 When that fatherly love is withdrawn or denied, a boy is left with a gaping hole in his heart—a wound of abandonment that relentlessly gnaws at his soul, constantly taunting him and telling him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.
Read the latest articles from Field Notes. Click a year to see the titles. Or view all of our E-newsletters.
Defending the Cause: A Letter from One Mentor Father to Another
Defending the Cause: Guardian of the Fatherless
Defending the Cause: Over Promising and Under Delivering
Defending the Cause: A Fatherless Day
Defending the Cause: The Megaphone of Pain
Defending the Cause: Coach 'Em Up: Mentorship Matters
Defending the Cause: A Family Embrace
Defending the Cause: There's Room for You
Defending the Cause: A Father Wound Redeemed
Defending the Cause: A Belle, a Boy and a Horse
Defending the Cause: A New Sense of Self-Worth - Yvonne Sanders, single mom
Defending the Cause: Catfish and a Water Trough
Defending the Cause: Finding Joy in the Journey - Steve Hood, Church Champion, Colorado Springs, CO
Harvest Story: BILL & EZRA - Astoria, Oregon
Harvest Story: The First Mom: Daphne Steed - Brandon, Mississippi
Harvest Story: Keith & Taylor - Brandon, Mississippi
Harvest Story: Masen & Scott - Lander, Wyoming
Harvest Story: Q&A with Lyle “Chuck” Cleavenger, Donor
Harvest Story: Q&A with Maudie Kenney, Widow - Lander, WY
Harvest Story: Q&A with Ricky Leach, Mentor Father - Casper, WY
Defending the Cause: Do for One - Mentor Father Damon Peary, Bozeman, MT
Defending the Cause: Happy (Mentor) Father's Day!
Defending the Cause: Life, Love & Family
Defending the Cause: Sowing the Good Ground - Lester Spell, Jr. DVM
Defending the Cause: Light Your World - Donor, Bobby Davis, Knoxville, TN
Defending the Cause: New Mission Accomplished - Church Champion and Mentor Father Mark Johnson
Defending the Cause: On Board for New Heights - Evelyn Husband-Thompson, Houston, TX
Defending the Cause: Bringing Light and Life to a Broken Soul - John Smithbaker, Lander, WY
Defending the Cause: Happy Thanksgiving
Defending the Cause: Obtaining the Promise - John Cunningham, Mentor Father
A Healing Journey: Jenn Scott, Sterling, VA
Hero Highlight: Compassion in Action
Word From Base Camp: EXPECTATION
Defending the Cause: Welcome, Kevin Drewry - New Regional Director
Word From Base Camp: ABBA
A Healing Journey: Veniece Lindemulder, Single Mom, Bozeman, MT
Hero Highlight: Off the Bench, On the Field
Defending the Cause: Be a Wise Guy
Defending the Cause: WORLD's Western Region Hope Award for Effective Compassion Winner!
Defending the Cause: Framing a Boy's Life - Mentor Father Jeff Scott
Hero Highlight: Z. Guy
Word From Base Camp: PERSEVERANCE
A Healing Journey: Larry Sonnenberg - Mentor Father, Bozeman, MT
Defending the Cause: Planting Seeds of Life - Mentor Father Larry Sprouse
Hero Highlight: Keith Polk
Word From Base Camp: LEGACY
A Healing Journey: Daphne Steed, Single Mom, Brandon, MS
A Healing Journey: Brian Scott,
Hero Highlight: Maudie Kenney
Word From Base Camp: WIDOW
A Healing Journey: Damian Lopez
Hero Highlight: Cesar Chavez
Word From Base Camp: CHURCH
A Healing Journey: Susan, Single Mom
Mentoring and Mowing
Hero Highlight: Ricky Leach
Word From Base Camp: ORPHAN
Word From Base Camp: MISSIONARY
A Healing Journey: Kyle Weaver
Fathers in the Field Board Member
Hero Highlight: Andy Crawford
A Healing Journey: Marv Rethmel: Sam and the Old Bird
Word From Base Camp: MENTOR
Hero Highlight: Shane Ellison - Mentor, Donor
A Healing Journey: Suzanne C.
Word From Base Camp: GIFT
Hero Highlight: Lyle “Chuck” Cleavenger
A Healing Journey: Terry Leach
Front Royal, VA
Church Champion, Mentor Father
Word From Base Camp: COMMITMENT
Hero Highlight: Alan and Kevin Brotz
Word From Base Camp: GAP
A Healing Journey: Scott MacNaughton
Hero Highlight: Troy Duble
Word From Base Camp: FAITH
A Healing Journey: Joel Garcia
Hero Highlight: Marc Pierce
Word From Base Camp: FATHERHOOD
A Healing Journey: Matthew and Evelyn Husband
Hero Highlight: Teresa Kenneda, Evanston, Wyoming