From Fatherless to Father-Led

By James Robison Published on June 16, 2024

Thank God for fathers. I hope you have one with whom you can share love and gratitude for his positive influence. Perhaps you have precious memories of a dad who now resides with our Father in Heaven. Or maybe you are like me and didn’t have a father who played a constructive role in your life. If so, I hope you have allowed our Heavenly Father to fill that gap. I know I have, and it has blessed me in so many ways.

Betty and I rejoice that our son and sons-in-law are great husbands and dads. They are a joy to observe! In most families in America today, fathers are tragically missing or spiritually dysfunctional. This is a major reason Christians must point to the Father in Heaven and help others understand what Jesus meant when He told His followers He was not going to leave them as orphans. He came to redeem us all and reconcile us to a meaningful relationship with the perfect Father.

I don’t have positive memories of an earthly father who loved and nurtured me. In fact, I was conceived in a forced situation. My 40-year-old mother, not knowing what to do, requested an abortion and was refused. After I was born, she placed me in foster care with a pastor and his wife for the first five years of my life. Then suddenly, my mother came back into the picture and decided she wanted to raise me. She took me from the security I had known into an unstable environment. We lived in poverty for the next 10 years, but our basic needs were met.

Father Figures

When I was nine years old, my mother married a man 20 years older than her who could neither read nor write and was living on Social Security. At this tender age, detention officers took me from their home after someone reported that I didn’t have enough to eat. At the time, we were living in a two-room house on the banks of a dirty part of the Colorado River in Austin, Texas. We had no street address. Our home was less than modest. We were truly poor, but I was not malnourished.

At the detention center, I was put in a room with bars on the window. It was terrifying. Miraculously, I was released in a matter of days because my foster parents traveled from Houston to Austin to get me. (My mother didn’t have a phone in her house, so they were unable to contact her.) They met with the authorities and assured them they would stock my mother’s cabinets with food. They also left money for my care. At the time, I did not know they had done this. For some reason, they were not allowed to visit with me. They told me years later that they had watched me from a window of the administration building.

It’s hard to describe the traumatic effect this experience had on me. I shudder to think what would have happened if I had spent weeks or months at the detention center. No doubt the authorities meant well, but a government bureaucrat is a poor substitute for a loving parent.

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All believers who know God through Christ are called to reveal and share the profound positive effect that a personal relationship with Father God can have on anyone’s life, however great their challenges may be. God is the only one who can correct our current crisis of missing fathers. We can’t rely on government or its agencies as a substitute.

As Christians, we must point everyone to the perfect Father while freely sharing His love so they can come to know the only cure for a fatherless generation) is a relationship with Father God. We need faith-filled people to step into the gap as mentors, good examples, and encouragers. The church offers the best source of inspiration to help raise up a new generation of Father-led families.

Happy Father’s Day!


James Robison is founder and publisher of The Stream, as well as founder of LIFE Outreach International and cohost of LIFE Today. He’s the author of many books, including Indivisible (with Jay Richards) and Living Amazed and Fight the Good Fight: How an Alliance of Faith and Reason Can Win the Culture War.

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