Standing in the Gap
by Jen Peterman
This month many of us will find ourselves celebrating the fathers in our lives – buying Hallmark cards, a silk tie, or maybe a “World’s Best Dad” mug. Sadly, though, for thousands of Indiana children, this Father’s Day will come and go without fanfare. According to the Indiana Youth Institute, nearly 40 percent of births in Indiana are out-of-wedlock and nearly one-third of Hoosier children live in a household where dad is not present. (1)
The effect of fatherlessness in Indiana, and across the U.S., is staggering. According to FathersUnite.org, children from a fatherless home are: (2)
• 5 times more likely to commit suicide.
• 9 times more likely to end up in a state-operated institution.
• 9 times more likely to drop out of high school.
• 10 times more likely to abuse chemical substances.
• 14 times more likely to commit rape.
• 20 times more likely to have behavioral disorders.
• 20 times more likely to end up in prison.
• 32 times more likely to run away.
According to the U.S. Children’s Bureau, “Even from birth, children who have an involved father are more likely to be emotionally secure, be confident to explore their surroundings, and, as they grow older, have better social connections with peers.” In addition, the Children’s Bureau notes: “Numerous studies find that an active and nurturing style of fathering is associated with better verbal skills, intellectual functioning, and academic achievement among adolescents.” (3)
For New Song supporter and long-time children’s advocate Dave Spencer, his passion to reach the fatherless began while working with inmates at Attica Prison. “Their criminal behavior started at an early age,” said Spencer. “They had no one there.” Dave and his wife, Colleen, went on to foster 147 boys in their home over a 27 year period. “The thing that struck me in fostering those boys was how much they yearned for a father relationship - what they gleaned from that,” said Spencer. “It is rewarding to recognize their lives are different because you have been there for them.”
New Song Mission believes that we must stand in this gap of fatherlessness for a generation of hurting children. As New Song hopes to opens its doors later this year, a special group of parents will open their arms to these children, many of whom are without one or both parents. These children will be introduced to the love and stability of a dual-parent family structure.
Despite New Song’s passion to be a transformational presence in children’s lives, it’s most important role will be found in directing these children to the eternal and immeasurable love of a Heavenly Father, “the helper of the fatherless” (Ps. 10:14). (4) As illustrated through the numerous Scripture references to God’s defense of and care for the fatherless, we know that today’s crisis of fatherlessness has not gone unnoticed by Him.
This Father’s Day, please join us as we draw near to our Father’s heart and pray for the fatherless children of Indiana and across the U.S., and for those who will be calling New Song home.
4. Psalm 10:14, New International Version