Being a Father to the Fatherless

When Liza and I originally decided to adopt, it’s true that one of our main purposes was to grow our own family.  But as our eyes were opened to the plight of the orphan worldwide, and seeing how many times the Scriptures admonish us to “Be a Father to the Fatherless,” we realized that adoption entailed a great deal more than we initially imagined.  God really does call us to be their advocates.  Like, all of us.

Our adopted verse (pun intended) for this journey is listed on our banner above, from Isaiah 1:17:

Learn to do good,
Seek justice,
Rebuke the oppressor,
Defend the fatherless,
Plead for the widow.

If we have to “learn” to do good, then we probably aren’t very good at it naturally.  I know I’m not.  The worldwide orphan crisis (anywhere from 13 – 132 million, depending on which government agency you believe) is obviously important, but it just doesn’t seem to grab our attention like a new iWhatever, the latest celebrity or sports news, or US politics do. I have to tell you – after going to Africa first hand and absolutely falling in love with the land and the people, this has to change.  We have to do something about it.  At least I do.

Everyone these days has a cause too, and they’re usually good. Cancer research, animal adoption, clean energy, girl scouts, [insert yours here] – they’re all good. I sincerely believe that they’re all good, valuable, useful, worthwhile endeavors that help make our world a better place. But as a follow of Christ, as one who wants to live life in such a way that He is pleased, I can’t ignore that defending the fatherless and taking care of widows are WAY high on the list. Do a Google search on “orphans” and the “fatherless” and see if it’s not important to God – nearly 40 times do the Scriptures mention God’s desire to see orphans taken care of.   And by taking care of the fatherless, we’re providing stable, loving, nurturing homes for children who might one day cure cancer, adopt animals, discover the cleanest energy the world knows and buys TONS of girl scout cookies (hopefully Thin Mints to share with me).  More importantly, we please the God who made us for “good works, that we may walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).

If you’ve followed this journey of ours at all, you know it’s been a roller coaster of emotions; this last decent into emotional trauma hit us both especially hard.  But had we adopted the little girl we were supposed to adopt, I would’ve never gone to Africa.  If I had never gone to Africa, I would’ve never met Eunice, for instance, the 12-yr old girl from Uganda who, along with her two friends Victor and Bryan, stole my heart and only gave a part of it back before watching me leave in a bus bound for, in her eyes, who-knows-where. I wouldn’t have met the orphans of lepers in Ethiopia, abandoned by their parents and forced to live on the streets, yet who remain joyful of heart and spirit despite their circumstances.  I would’ve never heard the story of Pastor Isaac, who was shot and left for dead, yet now serves an entire community of 100+ orphans some 30 years later.  It’s fine and dandy to go to Africa and love on kids and be an example of a Real Man to them, but what now? Especially when I feel like they taught me far more than I taught them? That’s what I’m asking God to help me decide.

The next few days I will be sharing some of the journey with you and posting more pictures of our time there; I hope it will, if nothing else, encourage you to think about some small thing you might do to help the fatherless. I’m not saying you have to go to Africa – but if you do go, I’m cautioning you, you’ll want to go back.  I already can’t wait for next year’s trip.

2 Responses to “Being a Father to the Fatherless”

  1. Margaret Jackson

    Heartfelt words Jeff. The new Pastor at our parish of Espiritu Santo in Safety Harbor is from Uganda, he just got back from there on Thursday, and his homily today was VERY POWERFUL. He’s so young and vibrant and connected. Perhaps he could be a useful resource to you, let me know if I can introduce you for any reason.

  2. Hein

    I work for a missions organisation and was asked to lead a small prayer meeting. I decedid to go with Father to the Fatherless in Africa. When I googled it, your website was one of those that came up. Would you mind contacting me on or We would like to pray for you.

    In His service,
    Hein van der Merwe


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