"Be imitators of me as I am of Christ" 1 Corinthians 11:1
When we first moved to New York City, I, Sam, took particular notice of the fatherlessness that surrounded me. There is a spiritual root to this problem, that we all share, as we have all at some point and time metaphorically ran away from our heavenly Father. I have deeply internalized my role as a Dad, to be showing my daughters a glimpse of the love and character of God, through the way I am in relationship with them, as someone who loves, instructs, teaches, disciplines and models to them just as God the Father has modeled to us. Fatherlessness has been something that God has continued to burden me with, both from the spiritual sense, but also how I can spring into action from a heart changed by the gospel, to do something about it. The City of New York revealed on its website in 2010, that approximately 33% of children under the age of 18 are from fatherless homes, with a highly disproportionate amount of children being black and Latino. There are obvious social ramifications to this, but more importantly this will become a detrimental spiritual issue. As a Christian man it is something I feel God is asking me to take steps of faith to be a father figure for those who might not have one.
As this was happening in my heart, God brought an opportunity to me to serve at a high school in Harlem mentoring young men in grades 9-12. YoungLife, a Christian ministry that reaches out to high schoolers, has a relationship with a charter high school in Harlem through an alumni of the high school who is YoungLife staff. The school asks YoungLife to run their mentoring program and it is an amazing opportunity to get to add to the male voices in their life, with a heart to be a father as God the Father is these young men. Some do have fathers in the picture, but many do not, and it is an honor to get to add a Christian father's perspective to the cultural voices they may get from the media, their neighborhood culture and from society may tell them.
You can be praying for me as this is a crossing cultures experience for me. As the picture shows, and as you may imagine, of the 40 young men in the program, one was hispanic, and the rest are African American. I am learning, with many awkward moments in between, how to communicate in a way that truly imparts meaning and significance into their young lives. About half of the groups is Muslim as well, which adds another layer of complexity as spiritual things do come up. Some of the guys who I am personally working with by name are Mohammad, Vincent, Paul and Manny. They are all underclassmen, so I am praying that they will continue with the program next year so we can continue to build relationships and that as I share Christ with them God will use our deepening friendship to bring them to Himself.