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.
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.