Fatherlessness is an epidemic in our country affecting not only the sacredness and bond of the family, but also the legacy of the outdoors. Many young boys in America never get to experience the thrill of hunting quail or fishing with a father by their side leading, guiding and protecting.
Beyond robbing boys of their model for manhood and chance to be wild at heart, the ramifications of a father’s absence are staggering. Look around your community and you can see that life without dad is damaging and diminishes a child’s ability to succeed. Consider that 75 percent of all adolescent patients in chemical abuse facilities, 71 percent of high school dropouts, 85 percent of all children who exhibit behavioral disorders, and 90 percent of all homeless and runaway children come from fatherless homes. The rates of crime and incarceration among youth in a father-absent household are astronomical and so are the risks of physical, emotional or education neglect that precede it.
Fathers in the Field is a ministry I believe addresses both the complex problems facing our fractured families and the characters of young men. Fatherlessness is such an overpowering problem, but the church, in partnership with ministries like Fathers in the Field, can help combat it with men who are willing to put in action their love for the outdoors by committing to mentoring a young boy. Fathers in the Field makes it an easy “yes” by equipping a man with everything he needs for an adventure-filled lifestyle ministry.
Hundreds of men have stepped up, so as a consistent supporter of the ministry, I’ve seen first-hand how God has multiplied my family’s financial investment in the ministry by helping it to expand across the country. Fathers in the Field is reaching almost every region with its message to men: Whenever you go and whenever you can, take a fatherless boy with you.
I applaud the Mentor Fathers this Father’s Day, but in reality it’s really about a father’s days. Days dedicated to consistent love, provision, protection and time invested into the life of His children whether they be biological, adopted or in a man’s life via a Christ-centered mentoring relationship through a ministry like Fathers in the Field.
There’s so much at stake. Statistics don’t lie, but remember, the shockingly high numbers represent human lives. And these lives have a multiplying impact – good or bad – on the lives of countless others. This is yet another reason why we do what we do. Father’s Day isn’t a happy one for many kids. It’s devoid of meaning without a loving father who is present and involved.
I fervently believe the legacy of the outdoors is in jeopardy because men aren’t present to share it with the next generation. What better setting than God’s creation?
Over the years I’ve observed the influence exposure to the outdoors has on a man’s heart, especially when sharing the Gospel at wild game banquets. Outdoorsmen are exposed to the creation and as a result, their hearts are softened to the Creator even if they haven’t consciously acknowledged Him. The response is amazing when they are presented with gospel message in a comfortable environment they are passionate about. I don’t think I’ve ever given a talk when there wasn’t 20 to 25 percent who are outdoorsmen – churched or not – who step forward to pray the sinner’s prayer.
God’s glory is seen in the heavens and earth marking Genesis 1 a secret weapon of Fathers in the Field. I’m grateful the founder of Hodgdon Powder Co., my own dad, raised me by his side instilling within me a passion for the outdoors and for the Lord.
Job’s challenge to appeal to the animal creation about their view of God in in Job 12: 7-9 is significant to the outdoorsman. “But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this?”
Job’s rhetorical question reveals that all the animals would proclaim God as their absolute Ruler and Creator. I believe that same appeal resounds in the hearts of men who love to spend their days in the midst of creation.
So as a ministry supporter, I want to thank the Mentor Fathers for sharing your days with fatherless boys and exposing them to the glory of God via the heart-altering Great Outdoors. With the ministry’s easy to follow structure and curriculum, it’s a great way to build a meaningful and growing mentoring relationship with your Field Buddy. My prayer is that the boy you mentor ultimately will have a personal relationship with the Lord.
I’m also thankful for the Church Champions, other financial partners, prayer warriors, and to John and the Regional Missionaries who help propel the ministry forward. Fathers in the Field isn’t just a good idea. It came from the Lord. We definitely are a vital part of God’s bigger agenda to defending the cause of the fatherless (Isaiah 1:17) while defending the legacy of the outdoors in the name of Christ.
Thanks for stepping up and making Father’s Day and every day have meaning instead of heartache for a young boy. It’s a great way to be a true sportsman.