Dad picked something more important to him than his boys.
Men turn in their parenting cards and abandon their children for countless reasons, many of which their children never know about. Not knowing why your dad abandoned you and your family is almost as terrible as remembering the day he made the choice. “I remember vividly the day my dad chose to abandon my two brothers and me. We were told that he and mom were going into their room to discuss if he would stay. It was a surreal experience, was he going to stay or go? We were hoping he would stay. They came out of room and mom said he is going to leave. In the blink of an eye my hero was gone.”
For 9 year old Josh Ettesvold that was the first of two pivotal times in his life. While he and his brothers saw their father every other weekend they were fatherless because the man that was their father only wanted to be their friend. No parenting. No man training or being the adult. No deep relationship that all boys need with their father. Just “fun dad” the man who was there for fun then gone as fast as he arrived.
“The void left by my dad meant that I had to learn father-son things on my own or with make-shift dad aka mom. She helped me build my Cub Scout Pinewood Derby car, while all around I saw fathers investing in the lives of their sons. My family was different, a reality I couldn’t avoid and I couldn’t fix. Even when my mom remarried my step-dad never fathered me, it was like he was afraid to step into my life and be the leader and teacher I needed.”
When he graduated from High School Josh transitioned to the United States Air Force and from there to the Arizona Air National Guard. The military provided Josh with confidence, job skills and opportunities but it was his fellow Airmen that gave him the priceless gift of mentoring him into manhood. Their investment in his life helped him see the deep value of investing in the lives of others.
Then in 2009 the second pivotal event occurred. A series of events led Josh and his family to Christ’s Church of the Valley in Peoria Arizona. “I grew up in a Lutheran Church, where we attended every Sunday. While it was a part of my life I had no concept of what a lifesaving relationship with Jesus looked like until 2009. I felt like every message was directed right towards me and that I needed to invest not just in my own spiritual life but the spiritual life of my family. I started to become the man God designed me to be.”
In 2015 Josh contacted me about Fathers in the Field after hearing about the ministry being lived out at Flatirons Church in Lafayette Colorado. As we talked Josh broke down. He told me about his growing up fatherless and the pain he suffered because of it. In many ways we are kindred spirits. Here is a man who sees the value of helping Christian churches and men pour the Gospel into the lives of fatherless children and single mother families. Josh understands firsthand the pain of a man choosing something else over his children and the healing that comes when a man chooses you over other things.
Mentor Fathers are saying to a fatherless boy, “I want to spend time with you. Teaching and guiding you because you are the most valuable part of creation. Your value is higher than anything else not just to me, but to our Heavenly Father and I want to introduce you to Him.”
Since meeting him in 2015 Josh has joined our Board of Directors and is a true Champion of the Fatherless (Isaiah 1:17). I asked him to share his heart with you the friends of Fathers in the Field; here is what he had to say:
“I see churches across this great country send missionaries all over the world. They take their picture, help raise their support and send them half way around the world to impact people in other countries. This is a good thing, but at what cost? I drive through the debris field of broken homes and shattered lives on the way from my home to church and back again. How many fatherless boys am I passing? How many of them are wondering if God exists? Wondering if anyone cares if they live or die? Think of the missionaries we could raise to help the missions field right in front of us. It would be staggering how many men would step up and how many boys’ lives could be touched by the Gospel. All it takes is for churches to prioritize the command to care for the fatherless found in James 1:27 and it would change our culture instantaneously. I think of myself at the age of 12, trying to figure life out and wondering if God was even there. Now I look at it and think what the impact would be of a Mentor Father coming along side me and walking through life with me. My entire life would have been radically different. So what is stopping this from becoming a reality?”
If you have spent any time talking with me, you know that those are my sentiments too. How heart wrenching it is to see the lives of fatherless boys destroyed every day while the very Christian men who could impact their lives walk by…oblivious to the carnage around them.
Let’s change our fatherless nation together. I’m waiting to hear from you.
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