The numbers are staggering when it comes to families without fathers. One national estimate reports it affects one in four children.
That absence can lead to a host of problems even later in life, so one group of pastors hopes Christians can help prevent the breakup of the family.
'Wish I Knew You'
"'Cause man, I really wish our story had a better ending. I really wish we got to know each other, Dad. 'Cause I try to get away, but I can't help from feeling sad," Hip Hop artist and speaker Legin rapped about growing up with an absent father in the emotional song, "Wish I Knew You".
"And the fact is, you ruined all the blessings that you had; lost your son and your wife and your life, and I'm mad," he continued the rap. "You never made it to a track meet or a basketball game. And when I had my birthday party, you the one that never came. Some days I'm over it, and other days I feel the same. I really wish I knew more than just your name."
Legin says his dad struggled with drugs and alcohol.
"After three failed rehab attempts, he made it very clear that he had no intention to change, so my mother actually left him and took me with her," he told CBN News. "So I grew up here, and he went back to DC where he was from. And I didn't see him again until 20."
"So from the ages of five to 20, I just didn't see my dad," he continued.
The two did eventually reconcile, but Legin and his dad had no opportunity to grow closer.
"We did meet, and our very last conversation was, 'I forgive you;' I said, 'I forgive you,'" he explained. "And we had this great time of just talking and planning to get to know each other. And right after that conversation, he passed away."
Fatherlessness Affects Children Even Later in Life
Growing up without his dad still affects Legin today.
"It still hurts. And I see that. And in some ways, it's pushed me to be a better father than maybe I would have been? I don't know," he said. "In other ways, I see the deficiencies of what I don't know to do because I didn't have him."
Legin founded the Christian Hip Hop production company, "Renaissance Movement", and God has used it to minister to youth and young adults dealing with fatherlessness.
"A lot of times in my shows I say, 'Raise your hand if you grew up without a father,'" he shared. "And there's always half the crowd. It doesn't matter what the crowd looks like, white, black, it just, it's always half the crowd."
"So that gives me a chance to speak to that, and some of my most powerful music has come from that and reminding people. I would say, my whole ministry is reconciliation," he continued.
Fatherlessness Affects Culture
"When the family suffers, it bleeds over into the culture," Deacon Darrell Wentworth of St. Gregory the Great Catholic Church in Virginia Beach, told CBN News.
It's a problem that he also hopes to change. Wentworth faces a daunting task.
The National Fatherhood Initiative cites census statistics showing kids without a father figure are four times more likely to live in poverty, have behavioral problems, and commit crimes.
Wentworth wants to end what he calls this "lukewarm war."
"...where we don't think it's our responsibility to help couples that are in distress," he explained. "We need to take responsibility and say, 'We can help you. Let's come in and help you get healed, help your marriage get healed,' because as the marriages get healed, the stability goes into the children."
Renewal Pastors Alliance
To help back up his words with actions, the deacon is bringing pastors together to establish key relationships.
"The Renewal Pastors Alliance is an alliance among Christian pastors who believe that the power of the Holy Spirit needs to come in and transform individuals and families because the family is the core of all cultures," he said.
Christian therapist Frank Meadows is part of this new effort.
"Today, with so many political correctness types of things stating what a family should be that is contrary to the Word of God, I think it's a massive problem," he told CBN News. "And people are growing up with a terrible sense of brokenness, fatherlessness. And so many mental health problems are a result of that."
Meadows also believes bringing various Christians together is key.
"A lot of people won't come into a church; however, if they find there's a group where people are getting set free – and let's say people are getting physically healed; that's another example; people are going to come just because they're sick," he explained.
"And a lot of people are broken," he continued.
Christian Unity Preventing Fatherlessness
Another person CBN News caught up with to weigh in on how Christian unity can prevent fatherless families is Dr. Richard Roberts, an international ecumenical minister, who has the ear of the Vatican. He traveled from Europe to Regent University and was a guest speaker at Regent's Law School Chapel.
"We develop friendships, and we support each other," he shared. "And we find people who can help and people to talk to and find that the things that we face as parents or as husbands or wives, we have in common with other people."
"And we can share ideas from our different traditions, and we can pray for each other," Roberts continued.
And if the Christian community is united and embraces families, then perhaps the trend of fatherlessness can be reversed.
"I mean it's Jesus' last prayer for us, right? It's John 17, like, 'Make them one. Unify them,'" said Legin. "So, I think that it's obvious that if we were to actually live that out, then we would be able to prevent some of the things we see."
"It was never meant for men to leave their women and men to leave their children," he rapped. "That is not God; that's satan's system."
"You been forgiven by me," he said in the rap, referring to his father.
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