I remember going to camp as a kid. It was my favorite part of the summer…a week of non-stop fun and spiritual growth packed into one week. I would make new friends each year and often times I would keep in touch with them for a while after camp was over by writing and phone calls. Two girls come to my mind…the first girl was someone I met the summer before my 8th grade year. She told me things…things that I had never heard of that she experimented with and did with boys. She seemed to have spiritual growth at camp, although, I could tell she didn’t have a stable home by her lifestyle, the way she held herself, the way she spoke and dressed...But I thought God has stirred something in her heart that summer. We kept in touch over the next few months after camp writing letters back and forth and an occasional phone call. The further out camp was and the more she dove back into life back at home, I noticed big changes in her. She was once again devoured in an unstable and unhealthy upbringing. Her dad was absent. The letters got more and more disturbing. She was sleeping with multiple boys, doing drugs among other things. I didn’t stay in touch with the girl but I do know that the lack of a stable father figure in her life prevented her from seeing herself how God truly sees her and who He created her to be. She voiced to me many times how she wished that she had her dad around.
The other girl that comes to mind was someone I met before my Freshman year of high school. My dad, being the incredible father that he was and still is, took me to a Father-Daughter Christian camp for a week. We did Father-Daughter activities to build our relationship and instill in me some values and promises that would be beneficial for what was ahead in High School. The dads all stayed in one cabin and the girls stayed in the cabin next door. I have always had a heard for the hurting and needy and seemed to pick up right where I left off at the previous camp…befriending the troubled girl in my cabin. She was from Miami and was deeply involved in gang activities. Her father brought her to the Father-Daughter camp to help her. I admired that and wanted to help too. The other girls and I encouraged this young girl to get out of her gang and drug lifestyle. I saw dramatic changes in her as she realized that her father, the most important person in a little girl’s life, was fighting to protect and save her from a lifestyle that could be fatal. By the end of the week, she was convinced. She went home and made major changes. She disaffiliated herself from the gang and moved out of Miami, where her mother lived, and moved in with her dad. I wish I could say that I am still in touch with her today and that I know that she continued in the right direction but I can’t. Like many of my friends that I met at camp, the communication stopped after a few months. What I do know is—she was CRYING OUT for her father’s attention and for a sense of self worth. At camp she not only got the attention of her dad (for a whole week away from reality and the hustle and bustle of life) but she got to know her Heavenly Father. What an impact that had on her…an impact that drove her to disaffiliate with a gang (something that is very scary and uncomfortable!) THERE IS POWER AND PURPOSE IN THE ROLE OF A FATHER.
Fathers…Your role is so important. In honor of Father’s Day…give your children the gift of a lifetime…a present and active Daddy and tell them how much you love them every day. You never know what kind of impact you will have on your children but we can guarantee that IT MATTERS. It’s never to late to start being the dad that your kids deserve.
Happy (belated) Father’s Day to all the Dad’s out there.