A Father to the Fatherless- How God Fills the Greatest Gaps in an Orphan Heart

Fatherless Prisoner Africa Boy Fatherhood

Recently, I began reading Randy Alcorn’s The Resolution for Men. The book is fantastically written and centers around a call for true, Biblical manhood. After giving a brief description of manhood, Alcorn lays out the true need for fathers, and the numbers he gives are more than astronomical- they are a punch in the gut.

In his chapter on the need for fathers, Alcorn gets right to the point.

When a father disconnects, leaves, or dies too soon, so does a part of his child’s heart. At the point a child gets detached from his or her father, it creates a massive vacuum of unmet needs in all the key areas for which the father is responsible. (16)

Alcorn

Alcorn then gives the statistics found within fatherlessness.

The research is staggering. Prisoners, drug users, dropouts, runaways, and rapists all share something in common. The overwhelming majority of them come from homes without a father. Fatherless homes produce more than half of all youth suicides, as well as the majority of kids with behavior disorders. Kids are twenty times more likely to end up in prison if their dad is not involved in their lives.

Fatherlessness also affects kids’ physical health. Those living without their dads have a much higher rate of asthma, headaches, anxiety, depression, and behavior problems. They are significantly more likely to use drugs and become suicidal.

Alcorn 16

He is correct, of course. While the need for mothers is still extremely important, the need for fathers is something implemented in all of us. Some people get offended at this, but it’s the truth.

My father, author of the well-received book In Pursuit of Orphan Excellence, was asked to appear on Moody Radio back in 2014. He took me, an eleven-year-old, with him to the studio, where I was allowed to sit quietly and listen. At the time, I couldn’t understand what they were talking about, but having re-listened to this interview, I can now describe it in fair detail.

My dad spoke with his host for some time, describing the book and talking about the need for a father found within all of us. Eventually, however, a woman got on the radio with a massive chip on her shoulder. She began by simply saying that my father was wrong- she was a single mother with two children, a lawyer and a doctor. With two successful children, she was convinced that she was the reason of their success and she challenged my dad’s claim that the loss of a father is more important than the lack of a mother. After my dad politely disagreed, she became extremely angry, insulting his intelligence and theological upbringing, then going to so far as to challenge his Faith. By this point, I was ready to pull on headphones and give this woman a piece of my mind.

My dad would later recall this situation as “him on the hot-seat”. He was sweating and quiet, unable to respond to this angry woman’s insults. Eventually, by what I believe to be an act of God, the host asked the woman to stand by and listen to the rest of the discussion on the phone. She welcomed a new caller, and I felt my heart begin to sink. Would this be another angry person with a chip on their shoulders? Then, to my extreme surprise, I heard the deep voice of my “uncle” Charles.

My dad had taken Charles as a type of little brother during the late 1990s. Charles had also lost his father, so my dad stepped in as a type of big brother/father. At that time, Charles was married, had several children, and was a good man of the Faith. He got right to work, explaining the difficulties presented in his fatherlessness. He had grown under his mother and grandmother but had always felt something missing.

As he spoke, the tension in the room began to wash away. He literally dissected every statement the woman had made. She had said that a woman could easily step into a man’s role as father: Charles, the one who was actually in this situation, explained that his mother tried to do this but failed utterly.

God has set men as the leaders within both the church and the home. This is clearly found within Scripture. In no way does this make women inferior; nay, women can be and often are wiser and better leaders then certain men. However, men are given the leadership role of father, something made sacred within Scripture. There’s a reason we call God abba, father. You will never hear God referred to as a mother. Again, this doesn’t mean that mothers are inferior- without them, I wouldn’t exist. Their calling is a different (but equally important) one. Without a king, the country falls. Without a general, the army dissolves. And in the same way, without a father, the family disintegrates.

“Without a king, the country falls. Without a general, the army dissolves. And in the same way, without a father, the family disintegrates.”

Charles explained this to the woman who, thankfully, had finished her turn and wasn’t allowed to speak again. He deferred back to my dad, who continued his discussion.

He talked about his partner, pastor Paul Kusuubira, a war-orphan who grew up in New Hope under our Director, Jay Dangers. Paul writes a paragraph in my dad’s book, describing his heart after the loss of his father.

For the first time in my life, I felt truly helpless and scared. During the war I had at least had my parents, but now a deep loneliness came into my heart. Even when surrounded by others, including my brothers and sister, I just felt like I didn’t belong to anyone. I existed as an outcast, a nobody. Rejection by friends and the community left me feeling greatly betrayed. Hopelessness marked my sense of the present and the future. I felt worthless. At my core I had completely lost my identity, no longer bearing my father’s name but taking on the name mulekwa, which means orphan. The joy that I had known as a boy was turned into extreme sadness. This sadness would constantly jerk me back into reality even when I found myself laughing or around others who were having a good time.

Mustrist guided my dealings with people. I felt like I could count on no one and would only be abandoned, betrayed, or let down by them. Even when people approached me with love or good intention, I found myself hiding my true self from them. I would only open up what I thought would get me something from them. This hiding kept all relationships on a superficial level. You could never really know me. Manipulation and deceit were keys to getting what I wanted from people. Fear became the defining mark of my life—fear of man, fear of rejection, fear of failure, and fear of death. All of these things led to a deep sense of independence where I only did things “my way”, refusing to be accountable to anyone. I would simply push away anyone who might get in the way of accomplishing what I wanted or who in some way did not meet up to my expectations.

McFarland 34, 35

Now, twenty years later, Paul is the father of five children, aged between 10 and 16, and pastors a church near ours. He is one of the brightest, optimistic, and Godly men I know. What happened?

Our answer is found in two places- the Bible and an autobiography of George Muller. This autobiography is the only book my dad has ever paid me to read, given that it is over 500 pages long. In the book, Muller tells of the struggles he had as a replacement father to the dozens (or even hundreds) of orphans in his care. In his longing, he turns to scripture, where God meets him in his need and gives him a verse from Psalms: “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families, he leads out the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land” (English Standard Version, Psalms 86.5-6).

God, in his infinite mercy, becomes the father to the fatherless, the True and Loving Father that will never let us down. The answer to the orphan heart is not found within a mother (although mothers can make excellent replacements for a time), but within God and God only. As Pastor Paul shows, the only true, lasting fulfillment to the orphan heart is God as the Father.

“God, in his infinite mercy, becomes the father to the fatherless, the True and Loving Father that will never let us down.” –Elisha McFarland

Alright, that’s all for today. Thanks so much for reading! I hope you enjoyed this post (and weren’t offended, for that matter). If you haven’t already, be sure to click that Follow button below (or to the side), so as to not miss out on any new posts. Thanks, and I hope you have a blessed day!

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Alcorn, Randy. The Resolution For Men. Kedrick Bros, 2011, p. 16.

McFarland, Keith, and Darke, Philip. In Pursuit of Orphan Excellence. Credo House Publishers, 2014, p. 34-35.

All scriptural quotations taken from the New International Translation.

Image Credit to Wallpaper Safari

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35 thoughts on “A Father to the Fatherless- How God Fills the Greatest Gaps in an Orphan Heart

  1. NoahJ

    Dang that was fantastic. Of course, as are most of these posts, but much can be learned from this. Having a father is such a blessing, and we rejoice at the fact that God is the true father. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thanks for writing this, Elisha. The special need for a father usually provokes a knee-jerk reaction from us women, but the truth of what you’re saying is shown everywhere! Even for girls, the need for a father is apparent. The girls who lack respect and attention from their fathers are the ones who desperately look for a boyfriend. Thank God that He fills that void for the orphans! Thanks for standing up for the truth even when it’s unpopular!

    Liked by 1 person

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