Two bits of wisdom I ran across recently:

"Don't try to solve the problems of the world. Solve the problem in front of you first. You can always take on the problems of the world later. And the best way to help the world is to start with the challenge you're facing right now."

"If you want what you've never had, you've got to do what you've never done."

And Gina Bottorf sent along this inspiring story.

My friend Peter Odanga in Kenya is concerned about the rise of fatherless children in African society. "Dad is either too traditional, unfaithful to his marriage, abusing the child. The boy child is rebellious; the girl child falls in hands of the wrong people. My plea is that we should stop being Africans and become Christians." Sounds all too familiar, doesn't it? Then he asks three questions:

1. What would you tell Fathers?
2. What biblical advice do you have for single parents {widows, single girls with children}?
3. What is the church's responsibility on the same?

Here are a few thoughts in response. The problem in the African church is mirrored in the American church. I caution that there is no short-term solution. We have to think in terms of decades and even generations to stem the tide because the culture is moving in the opposite direction.

First, we ought to hold up those fathers who are faithful to the Lord and to their families. We need to recognize them and to honor them publicly.
Second, we should set up some sort of mentoring system whereby older men can counsel younger man who feel so much pressure and don’t know how to handle it.
Third, we can do a better job of preparing couples for marriage by giving them realistic advice on what to expect and how to handle the problems that will arise.
Fourth, the church needs to model compassion for single mothers and widows. Single mothers in particular feel rejected and unworthy and wonder if they have any place in the church. We can help them by extending compassion to them in practical terms and also by offering multiple ways in which they can actively serve the Lord.
Fifth, the best way to train godly fathers is to start with today’s children and train them up, show them godly models, and encourage them to look forward to marriage and fatherhood. We don’t do any favors to our children by talking about singleness as if it is the normal expectation. We will serve the next generation better if they are raised to look forward to marriage as a solemn obligation and as a godly and joyful way to fulfill the Lord’s command to be fruitful and multiply.

We have to start small, think long-term, and act intentionally. If we do that, we can see a real difference a few years down the road. Other ideas and comments are welcome.

You can reach the author at  ray@keepbelieving.com. Click here to sign up for the free weekly email sermon.