A Christian school was preparing to have Larry Raab, a leading member of our staff, as the chapel speaker. The school was working with the children to raise money for this ministry as a mission project. The young children were told that this is a ministry to the fatherless. One sensitive youngster understood the problem better than most and asked: “How many dads are we going to be able to buy?”
At one point in our recent history, the government treated crime and social ills by waging war on poverty. Now most social scientists realize that economics is not the key factor that predicts whether a child will struggle, but family configuration is. This is a politically incorrect conclusion because we are pressured to believe that single parent homes are just as viable an option as two parent homes. It just is not so, and wishing will not make it so. The absence of a father in the home is the greatest predictor of behavioral and emotional problems, criminal activity and drug use in young people. Whether we like that conclusion or not does not change it; that is the fact. This does not mean that all kids living with hard working single moms are doomed, but it does tell us that these moms need our help and prayers.
So, how much does a dad cost? How many dads can we buy? We can understand the answer by considering how much the absence of a dad costs. We do know that 85% of kids in jail come from homes without dads. Each kid in jail costs Long Island taxpayers $55,300 per year. We know that 71% of unwed teen moms come from homes without a dad. We know that children from homes without a dad are twice as likely to drop out of high school making it hard for them to support themselves much less a family. So how much does a dad cost?
When the State of Indiana was looking to start a large jail-building project, a group of reporters asked the commissioner of Corrections the following telling questions.
- How much does each cell cost to build? Answer: $71,000
- How long will it take to complete the project? Answer: Ten years
- So you are building cells to house criminals who will commit crimes in ten years. At the cost of $71,000 each, how do you know how many cells to build? Answer: “Just count the 8-year olds from broken and dysfunctional homes. If no interventions are made, the prisons will end up with a predictable fraction of the at-risk population of school children.”
The figure for births of children into homes without a dad for 2005 came out last week. It is up — again. In 2005, 36.8% of all babies born in this country began life without a dad. This is a time bomb, a cancer eating away at our culture and nation. Even worse, in a nation where tens of millions claim to be evangelical, born again Christians, it is a scandalous shame pointing to a seemingly impotent, or uninterested, Church. What would Christ do? What does He think of us for failing to do it? I fear that the constant onslaught of crisis from many fronts has rubbed our hearts and minds so often that we have allowed a callus to form. We spend more of our attention on the comfort given by the Dr. Scholls of our culture than to the call to a life of ministry given by Dr. Jesus.
Some people complain that religion has become too big a part of social and political life in the United States. Where do people see all this religion? James 1:27 tells us that: religion that is pure and faultless to God our Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. The religious calling of the Church is to take care of the widows, the fatherless and the orphans. Committee meetings, stain glass windows and organs are all optional – caring for people as Christ would is not.
Please pray and ask that the Lord of the Harvest will send out workers into this harvest field of the fatherless. As you do so, please consider a year-end gift. We have stretched to expand this ministry this past year, and we will need tremendous help not to end the year in a financial hole that would make if difficult for us to keep growing to reach more fatherless children in 2007.
As you plan to joyfully celebrate this coming Christmas of 2006, remember that for over 35% of the babies born in America in 2006 this will be the first of many Christmas days without a dad. This ministry cannot fix that. We cannot put dads in kids’ Christmas stockings. But with your help, we can bring the love of our Heavenly Father into the lives of these children, and point them to the real joy of Christmas – the living Savior, Jesus Christ!