“You are the helper of the fatherless.” Psalm 10:14
In October, I celebrated the power of community to transform the lives of boys with absent fathers at the 25th Anniversary: Forgiveness Nashville at “The Shack” presented by The Family Foundation Fund. In the early 90’s Onnie Kirk, founder of the Family Foundation Fund knew that he must do something to address the demise of the family in the African-American community, so the Family Foundation Fund was birthed to nurture boys with absent fathers into successful, Christ-centered manhood and to inspire and equip them to be fathers that impact the destiny of future generations.
The results from the past 25 years speak to the success of the program. Here are the results: 100% of the program alumni have completed high school and continue their education in college or a technical school, or joined the armed forces or gone to work full-time. None of the Family Foundation Fund Alumni have experienced the juvenile system, and none have become teenage fathers. Fatherless boys represent 85% of youth incarcerated, 75% of children in Chemical Abuse Centers, 80% of rapists, 63% of teen suicides. Boys born to teen mothers are more than 2 1/2 times more likely to father a child between ages 14- 26.
I must say, Wm. Paul Young, the author of The Shack and the featured speaker of the evening was so warm, personal, and full of wisdom and Biblical truth. He spoke so clearly defining the Trinity which is hard to understand, and many had questions about his view concerning the Godhead. Deeply Trinitarian, he explained that God has always existed as three persons, yet One with no diminishment of personhood of each member of the Trinity. The book is fiction, and he made God, a black woman stemming from how God used a black woman to change the course of his life. Remember God is a Spirit, and God embodies all the characteristics of masculinity and femininity. God can use a black woman, burning bush, etc. to reveal Himself and that does not mean that God is a black woman or a burning bush (we so often confuse all of that). Learning to forgive was pivotal in him experiencing the community of the Godhead, one God consisting of three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Forgiveness is not dependent on a person changing, but it does change you. Just because you forgive someone does not mean that you experience reconciliation with that person. It takes a long time to rebuild trust and that trust might or might not be restored. The volunteers, mentors, staff of the Family Foundation Fund, mentees’ families surround the boys with a community of love and support to heal past pain and unforgiveness and to nurture, inspire, and equip them to become men who live out the gospel in their families and communities. Love grounded in the gospel releases the shackles of unforgiveness and frees us from the lie that we are alone opening our eyes to the love of God and community of faith. Forgiveness frees you to love God and others and to receive that love that we all long for- the sacrificial and unconditional love of a Holy God.