Most likely, each of us have a special memory of a time with our father or the men and mentors God placed in our lives. After a weekend of honoring these fathers and friends, we’d like to suggest a very specific prayer request: please pray for the men of influence in your sponsored child’s life.
As many of you can attest, there is a lot of pressure on men in this world. To provide, to protect, to father all at the same time… and yet men in the developing world face untold challenges.
Here’s the reality: your sponsored child’s father may be the only breadwinner. Imagine feeding your family on what you can earn in a day… especially when you earn on average $2 a day. Imagine the pressure you bear with each day, how early you must rise, the looks on your children’s faces when there may not be enough to eat.
Many fathers of our sponsored children are subsistence farmers, meaning they work a piece of land and attempt to live off what it produces. Unfortunately, most people living in extreme poverty do not own their own land, so large portions of their produce go to the landowner rather than the family.
Or, making matters worse, your sponsored child’s father may not even be in the picture. To find work, he may have left the area or even the country in order to provide for the family. This is increasingly common – the economic downturn does not respect geography or tax brackets.
If a father leaves in search of work, your sponsored child’s family may be in even direr straits. Should the father not send money, or if something happens to him, where will the mother go for work? And what happens to the children then? Who cares for them?
In previous posts, we have estimated that 1 in 4 children are in our programs are in the care of a single parent. Other children face a different type instability because their parents may not be married – we are seeing this more often in the Dominican Republic, where free unions are becoming customary.
A free union is similar to a "common law marriage," where a couple will choose to live together without a traditional marriage ceremony and license, usually because such things are expensive (as is a formal divorce) and they may not have proper identification papers.
If each have children from a previous relationship, they may not care to look after someone else’s child. As tensions rise, there is less legal requirement to stay without a binding marriage. If the father does not legally recognize those children by adopting them, he has no reason to provide for them. Physical and financial abandonment is incredibly common, and once again the children are at risk.
Without a father in the home, a child may look for other role models, and their options aren’t always positive. It is because of these threats to stability and to the security of a child that we must pray. Pray for a reliable income source, pray for close proximity. Pray for a commitment to the family, to the child you sponsor. Pray for the mothers, for the relationships to prosper so the children can thrive.
Pray for our project staff, many of whom become the positive male role models that our children need. Pray that they have the eyes to see when a child's home life is affecting their daily life.
Pray also for our Father to change the hearts of the men who struggle, pray for the Spirit’s guidance to make healthy choices. Pray for the fathers to understand our Father’s heart for his children. And if your sponsored child’s father isn’t involved, pray for wise people of positive influence to speak truth into the child's life.
Fair warning, that wise person may be you!