For the Fatherless this Christmas Season

It was lunchtime in Kenya.

And if the clanging of pots and pans and fragrant smells from the kitchen didn’t make that clear, the hungry toddlers did.

Huge spoonfuls of rice and beans in colorful bowls were on the menu and we laughed and talked and babies ate.

edith and lucy

These young mamas love seeing pictures from America and they pile around and ask questions and giggle any time we show them.

I was holding a bubbly baby Jennifer (actually, fighting my daughter to hold her), 5 months old and precious while my husband was showing the girls a picture of his family from his phone.


“Wait,” Edith stopped him. “You have a father still?” Lucy sat next to her feeding Duncan and added, “How can you have a father?”

Terrell showed them a picture of his father and his mother and they girls shook their heads.

“We don’t have fathers,” they said. Babies begged for another mouthful and the conversation skipped on. There wasn’t a dramatic pause or a heavy spirit in the room. But I stopped bouncing baby Jennifer on my hip and I realized again how much I take for granted.


All of our young mommas are fatherless. And so are their babies.

Men our missing from Mercy House and it’s a tangible absence.


Being fatherless is common in this country.

Having a father is the uncommon.


Four of the girls graduated from Phase 1 and are moving on to Phase 2 as a part of their transformation and journey to reintegration. Every girl has a unique background and story. And so every momma has a unique plan and future. It’s not an exact science and we lean heavily on God for wisdom. It’s a two-step forward, one-step back kind of life.

A local pastor at the ceremony stood up to encourage the girls and shared how he grew up fatherless. And this vacant spot around the table? It’s not just a poverty problem. Because poverty isn’t really about what you have or what you don’t have.

Poverty is about an empty space in your soul that you’re trying to fill up with holiday spirit and more stuff. It’s about a missing Presence in your life.

Poverty is about brokenness.

And how many people in our own culture have present fathers who are absent?

A present father provides five things in our lives:

  • A father is present, a physical, important role in the home
  • A father is a provider, the one who supplies our needs
  • A father is our protector, one who watches over us
  • A father is a priest of the home teaching values, faith Jesus
  • A father is a prophet, or encourager, warning us to make right choices

“A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families, he leads forth the prisoners with singing….  Psalm 68:5-6″

Maybe you have an absent dad or you are a dad who is absent or one who has failed you, leaving you wounded. You are not alone. Because this–THIS- is the answer. He is the answer. God is our Father.

So, sweet Lucy and beautiful Edith and dear reader, you are not common.

The Father sent a baby to save the world and He will fill the empty place. You are not fatherless.


  1. 1


    So beautiful. Thank you. It’s easy to slip back into speculation about what would have been different had my father been in my life but, like you’ve reminded me, the Lord was more present than an earthly father could have been if he had wanted to be. Praise God for His love and faithfulness to us.

  2. 4

    celina boulanger says

    I pray these young women trust in the Lord to guide them to right and just men in their lives..for love and mentorship.

    I find here its a different yet similar problem…we deem the males unneeded. We don’t need a man…I can do it all on my own, from mothering to everything else.

  3. 5

    Drey says

    Hi Kristen.
    As I read this post and your comment about the missing fathers/men and the vacant spot around the table, it came to me as clear as day that this table may not have any men/fathers around it, but the Father of all fathers is right there in the midst. And it came to me leaving stinging tears in my eyes that maybe if you designate a ‘vacant’ chair at the table or in the house as God’s chair, then the girls or their kids can sit in his arms and talk to him, Was just a thought right out of the blue.

  4. 6


    I can identify, in a small way, with the girls at Mercy House having no father as the norm…because I grew up almost my whole life with no father. My dad was killed in a car accident, 2 days before Christmas, 31 years ago. I was 6. That was my norm…no dad to take me out to learn how to drive, no dad to talk to my now husband when he wanted to talk to my parents about marrying me, no dad to give me away at our wedding, no dad to love on his grandkids…and even little things like no dad to pick up the phone and ask “how would/did you handle this _____?” Even though it’s been so long, I still feel the empty hole there. I used to just soak up time at my friends’ homes when I was a teenager…all my friends had intact nuclear families, and spending time with them was such a treat.
    I will pray that God would provide His loving-kindness to these girls…and that they would feel His love.

  5. 9

    Heather says

    I just want to tell you thank you for such an encouraging post! And thank you for encouraging me to trust in God and lean on Him. I grew up in a broken home…no father, no money, often no home…so this post really touched me deeply. I am so blessed now that God has brought me a husband who is all those things you described and two beautiful girls who are growing up with stability and a strong foundation of faith in Christ. I am praying for your family and all the girls at the Mercy House.

  6. 10


    I never would have imagined that I would share something with young moms in Kenya; being fatherless.
    I grew up without one. God himself only knows where the man got up to. There are definitely many difficult transitions and crossroads for a girl who grew up without the physical presence of a father in the home. I had a God loving and fearing mama though. And many good strong men of faith in my family that were great examples.
    But other than that: God was my Father.
    I think that’s a pretty good deal in the end! :)

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