Guest blogger Jeromy Smith
Every Father’s Day, I am overwhelmed by two conflicting sensations that are at once both acutely objective and deeply emotional. Somewhat predictably, the first sensation is gratitude for the love, support, mentoring and friendship of my earthly father. Frankly, I can’t imagine my life without either of my parents. I’m also filled with gratitude by the realization that God has entrusted me with four little people who call me “Daddy”; four precious souls who look to my wife and I for provision, strength, love, affection and self-worth. It’s exhausting at times and scary at others, but gratifying beyond words.
This Father’s Day was awesome. My parents joined us for church, and we enjoyed a nice meal at Ruby Tuesday’s where the waitress kept my iced tea full and brought us everything we wanted. But the coolest part was not the enormous chocolate brownie that I shamelessly engulfed. It was watching the faces of my kids—their smiles nearly cracking their cheeks as each eagerly waited for their turn to give me a hand-picked Father’s Day card. Jasiri’s “Transformers” audio card encouraged me that “the universe needs more Dads like you.” Damon’s card told me how much he loves the time I spend with him, but thankfully it played a fun song when I opened it, allowing me to regain my emotional composure. Probably not coincidentally, my daughter Sundi (who is severely hard of hearing) did not pick an audio card, but it also hit its mark. The outside simply read, “Daddy’s girl”, with the inside proclaiming, “And proud of it!” Wow! Filled with gratitude, I was—and remain—acutely aware of the fact that I would not trade my life with anyone!
But for tens of millions of boys and girls, Sunday was Father-less Day. Most of us have already moved on from Father’s Day, and you might even wonder why we’re sending this message “late”; it is because kids don’t have the option to move on from being fatherless. For orphans and many other vulnerable children, every day is “Fatherless Day”. This brings me to the second sensation—heartache. Every Father’s Day my heart aches for all the young (and older) souls who would give anything to have someone to call “Daddy.”
Although the published number is 2.4 million Kenyan orphans, nobody really knows how many there are. We do know that every night any child goes to sleep wondering if anyone will ever love them is a profound tragedy. For orphans, one year equals 365 profound tragedies. Regardless of how many kids grow up without the love of a family or the security of a father, I often wonder—why are there any at all?
In just six weeks, our next short-term missions team will travel to Kenya. On August 9th and 10th, we will be co-hosting the 2nd Annual East African Orphan Summit. We’ll be learning how to strengthen indigenous family preservation and adoption efforts, explore how the Church can strategically defend the fatherless, and facilitate the networking of East African orphan advocates to one another. The dream for East Africa, as simply stated by the Kenyan pastor leading the effort, is: “Hakuna Yatima tena”. This roughly translates to “No child will ever again remain orphaned.” By God’s grace, we are blessed to serve our indigenous partners as they endeavor to make this dream a reality.
May our hearts be filled with gratitude for the incalculable sacrifice Jesus made so that we could be adopted as His sons and daughters; and may our hearts break from the same things that break our heavenly Father’s heart.
– Baba Sundi (Jeromy)