A Fatherly Difference
It is the warmest greeting that a man could ever expect to receive – walking into a setting where 40 children are yelling and jumping up and down – “Ababa, Ababa, Ababa” which means “Daddy. Daddy. Daddy.” The children who cannot yet yell still light up at the sound. The excitement fills the room and the children run for a hug or for a glance of encouragement.
It is the daily scene in the Day Care. It makes no difference whether the man is a staff member or volunteer. It makes no difference
whether the man is a foreigner or a local. It makes no difference that these men come in with empty pockets. This is not about getting anything at all – except for what really matters – the affirmation of a father.
These children do not have dads in their lives. Actually when many of them find out about how their dads treated their moms or how they abandoned the family, they may change their minds overall about the male segment of the population. For many of these children men have helped to create and perpetuate the injustice that they now find themselves in. At some point in time, for numerous reasons, they have seen men come and go – leaving them without a father figure. Men in this situation use a revolving door, many times exiting the situation when it becomes inconvenient and difficult.
But, these children have a desire for more – a consistent expression of a father’s affirmation. It is nothing about testosterone or athletics. At this age it is looking for that father figure who is going to be a presence in their lives – and not just take off as convenience calls. While the short interactions give them an expression of love – what they need and crave is that long term, day in and day out love of a father figure in their lives…especially as they move out of the baby stage into becoming a toddler.
Deep down it truly is what most of us desire. Our Heavenly Father made us in a way that we long to know Him and often times our earthly father’s presence or absence becomes the portal through which we either understand or misunderstand Him as Father. Fortunately we worship a God who heals these wounds and helps us to know Him as Father even when we’ve had the worst of human models. Fortunately God chooses to use other men at times to give us a dad with flesh on so that we can better understand our Invisible Dad.
This is a point where I am so proud of our Ethiopian male staff. They are becoming a consistent male presence in the lives of these children. Day after day they get to interact and show a fatherly kind of love to these children. They laugh with them. They cry over them. They pray with them. They feed them. They play with them. They serve them. They show ongoing expressions of love to their moms. They worry about them when they are not thriving. They see them as important and act on that belief. Day in and day out.
Please pray for these children that they would know the love of the father figures that God has put in their lives. God is the one who sets the lonely in families – and while the children in the Day Care do not have earthly fathers involved in their lives, our staff gets the God given privilege of filling that gap. They get to become the father who is not going to take off, but rather will be present, caring and pointing the way consistently to God The Father, The Father of the fatherless.
Please pray for these father figures in the project. Please also pray that we would have more Ethiopian father figures in the community who would be willing to be a consistent, day in and day out presence to these children.