“If a country is to be corruption free and become a nation of beautiful minds, I strongly feel there are three key societal members who can make a difference. They are the father, the mother and the teacher. - Abdul Kalam, former president of India
The importance of family
is recognized by Christians and non-Christians alike. Uniquely designed by God to meet the needs of its members, the family provides safety, instills a sense of security, love and worth, and teaches its members how to live in community. The family structure is fundamental to the physical and emotional growth of healthy human beings.
Conversely, family breakdown has devastating effects – on society as a whole and on children in particular. Take a look at these statistics*:
- Children born and raised outside of marriage are five times more likely to be poor.
- 63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes.
- 75% of all adolescent patients in chemical abuse centers come from fatherless homes.
- 48% of all first births in the U.S. are to unwed mothers.
- 71% of pregnant teenagers have an absent father.
- Only 45% of U.S. teenagers have spent their childhood with an intact family.
- Women and children are the fastest growing segment of the homeless population.
The bad news is really bad: The family is under attack. Too many children are growing up without the benefits of a two-parent family. Too many children are being neglected and abused. And too many children are growing up into wounded adults who act in terribly irresponsible ways, perpetuating the cycles of abuse, addiction and poverty.
The men and women who come through the doors of the Union Gospel Mission are often suffering from the adverse effects of childhood trauma – old wounds that cut so deeply as to disfigure their very souls and prevent them from becoming healthy, contributing members of society. In their woundedness, they have often wounded a great many others.
The good news, incredibly, overshadows the bad: Nothing is impossible with God. He can heal and redeem the deepest and most painful suffering. Viktor Frankl, scientist and Holocaust survivor, once wrote, “In some ways suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning.” Remember Joseph? He said to the brothers who had sold him into slavery, “You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.”
God does what we cannot: He makes sense of suffering, and we invite you to come alongside Him as He restores “the years the locusts have eaten” (Joel 2:25). Just the other day, a little girl who used to cower whenever men were around ran up to me, grabbed me around the legs and hugged me. God heals, redeems and restores.
* Statistics from the websites of the Heritage Foundation, the National Marriage Project, the Fatherless Generation and the Family Research Council.
Read Phil's column on a regular basis in the Mission News. Click on the link below.