Editor’s Note: Additional contributions to this article were made by Alisa Jordheim, Adela Just and Hal & Cheryl Sacks.
The fatherless child is snatched from the breast; the infant of the poor is seized for a debt (and sold). – Job 24:9
A Glimpse of Reality: A Father Figure
Her tattoo said it all. Daddy, in big blue letters across her upper arm.
Misha never had a father in her life. So, when she met Sly, she was dangerously vulnerable to his charms. Sly listened. He cared about her problems, offered her a place to stay and, most importantly, he provided her with the security and love she was desperate for. It was all a lie, but Misha was hooked.
Sly became just what Misha needed, a daddy. This is the way of the trafficker – looking, listening and providing a father figure to a fatherless generation.
One does not need to possess astute powers of spiritual discernment to realize there is a crisis of fatherlessness in society today. Not only can it be seen by casual observation, but many studies statistically support this as well.
Federal statistics show alarming long-term growth in the proportion of children living in fatherless households. The proportion of children under 18 years living with their mothers only as a result of divorce or lack of marriage has risen continuously since 1970. (1) Some 40 percent of the nation’s children and 60 percent of African-American children live in homes without their fathers. (1)
And that’s not all. 90 percent of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes—32 times the national average. (3) This is of enormous significance to the topic of human trafficking, as 1 in 3 children will be forced into prostitution within only 48 hours of being on the street. This factors heavily into the sad reality that the average age of entry into prostitution in the U.S. is 13 years old. (4)
On the surface, family life in Mexico looks a little more stable. The divorce rate is relatively low – 11.3% as of 2004. The percentage of households without a father is 23.1% – nearly half that of the U.S. (4)
However, close to half of the births that take place happen out of wedlock. And there are at least 2 million orphans in the entire country. Above all, the statistics do not reflect the large number of families whose fathers have “abandoned” their families, even if temporarily, to seek work out of the country, leaving their children to grow up without their presence and guidance.
Filling a Void
A good friend who works on the front lines of an organization working to rescue trafficked victims revealed that a primary way that pimps lure and keep their victims is to present some kind of “family” unit and structure. It is not uncommon for female victims to call their pimps “Daddy” and refer to other victims who work for their pimp as “family.”
Once money is exchanged for sex, it becomes a commodity, and commodity is driven by supply and demand. Fatherlessness feeds the pipeline of supply by creating vulnerable and available children. It creates at risk children looking to fill a void, and conversely, odds are high that someone who sexually exploits in anger was fatherless as well. (3)
Of course God’s intent is for earthly fathers to model after His generous and loving heart. (Matt. 7:11) And God’s plan for the family was one man and one woman in covenant to each other who together care for their children. (Gen. 1:27, 28; 2:24)
Scripture reveals the key role that fathers play in establishing healthy generations. Psalm 78:5, 6 says:
For He established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which He commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children; that the generation to come might know them, the children who would be born, that they may arise and declare them to their children.
There is no solution to the fatherlessness dilemma that does not begin with the need to reveal our heavenly Father’s heart. At every opportunity, we must look for ways to reveal His truths to those who are fatherless.
Wherever possible, we must seek to help heal and restore damaged hearts and relationships. We can do this through one on one ministry or by connecting those hurting to churches or ministries using biblical principles of healing and restoration.
If you are not familiar with biblical healing, find someone who is. To some extent, until the issue of fatherlessness is dealt with, we will only be treading water in addressing the problem of human trafficking.
The prophet Malachi prophesied that before the day of the Lord comes, those operating in the spirit of Elijah will restore the hearts of the fathers to the children and the hearts of the children to their fathers. Those who operate in the spirit of Elijah are those who prepare His way. (Luke 1:17) We prepare His way when we bring restoration to the fatherless.
Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse. (Mal. 4:5, 6)
1. “The Fatherhood Crisis: Time for a New Look?” National Center for Policy Analysis. http://www.ncpa.org/pub/st267?pg=3.
2. “Statistics.” The Fatherless Generation. http://thefatherlessgeneration.wordpress.com/statistics/.
3. “Slavery is not abolished.” FREE International. http://freeinternational.org/.
4. Maurer, Noel. “Divorce in Mexico.” The Power and the Money. 22 May 2012. http://noelmaurer.typepad.com/aab/2012/05/divorce-in-mexico.html
Father God, I ask forgiveness for ways I have neglected children by putting other pursuits and interests before them and failing to disciple and protect them. I ask forgiveness for turning a blind eye to those fatherless children in my neighborhood and church You have called me to come alongside.
We stand in the gap for fathers in our two nations and ask forgiveness for those who have been emotionally or physically absent from their children. O Lord, teach us to do what is right, to seek justice, relieve the oppressed, and correct and reprove the ruthless. Forgive us for not defending the fatherless, and fighting for the rights of the widow. (Isaiah 1:17).
– Lord, we recognize that those without the love of an earthly father are more vulnerable to being snatched up into sex trafficking. We ask You to, “Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; do justice for the poor and oppressed. Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” (Psalm 82:3, 4)
– Today we ask You to move upon the men in Your Church to step in and become father figures and mentors to those with absentee or disengaged fathers. (Hosea 14:3, 4)
– We pray also for the healing of strained and broken relationships between children and their fathers, that old wounds affecting current healthy relationships would be healed. (Malachi 4:6)
– Lord, we recognize that those without fathers often have no blueprint for becoming a good parent themselves. We pray for healing and restoration of those without fathers, so the cycle of fatherlessness is broken, that the children in our two nations would be protected and loved rather than vulnerable and exploited through evils such as sex trafficking. (Psalm 10:17-18)
1. One of the greatest ways to combat fatherlessness is to become a legal parent to a child whose mother and father are out of the picture. If you are interested in adopting a child, contact a local adoption agency.
2. Become a mentor to a fatherless child or youth who is in need of godly guidance, wisdom, and relationship.