“Is not your wickedness great, and your iniquity without end? You have sent widows away empty, and the arms of the fatherless were crushed.” – Job 22:5, 9 (ESV)

This passage is just one of many throughout the Bible that identifies widows and the fatherless as the most vulnerable in God’s economy. It describes the height of ungodliness as sending a widow away with no help and no provision or letting harm come upon a fatherless kid. I don’t believe any church would intentionally do this. However, when so many vulnerable children in single parent homes are suffering neglect and abuse, when single parents are crying out by the thousands that they need help and feel completely overlooked by their church, and fewer than one percent of churches in America offer a substantial ministry for single parent families, how can we not be brokenhearted, repent, and agree it’s time for a massive course correction?

It is tragic, but not surprising, that when single moms fail to find protection or provision within the church, many seek it in wrong relationships with the opposite sex. At best, these relationships set poor examples of sexual integrity for our kids. At worst, they can be harmful and abusive, sometimes even life-threatening. I know moms who have three or four children, all by different fathers, none of whom have stuck around to parent or provide, let alone marry these women. One single mom confessed to me in tears that in one particularly difficult season she had a different man in bed with her every night, just trying to get money to feed her kids. In Biblical times, a woman who had been widowed (divorced, abandoned or lost a husband to death) had grim prospects. Her only options for survival were to remarry or become a prostitute. I don’t think much has really changed today. We call it by different names and turn a blind eye to it, but ultimately many single moms and kids are in extremely vulnerable positions, up for grabs to whoever will give them a break, or a place to shack up or help paying some bills.

So how do we, as believers and as the Church, respond to this?

If widows and fatherless kids are one of the closest things to God’s heart, shouldn’t every church be reflecting His heart by rushing out to identify all the single parent families in their communities, paying them personal visits, and offering them refuge, protection and physical and spiritual nourishment?

Church—single moms are crying out for your help. They need childcare help from people they can trust. They need help providing for their kids, and they need help fathering their kids and healing the ‘daddy gap’ in their hearts.

I know it breaks the heart of our Heavenly Father when one single mom is left to fend for herself or one fatherless child gets neglected or abused. If we truly share His heart and want to call ourselves followers of Jesus we must say, “Not on our watch!” Let it not be said of us that we sent widows away empty and crushed the arms of the fatherless.

This is an excerpt from the book The Daddy Gap by Dawn Walker and Matt Haviland, which will be released this fall.

Dawn is a single mother and is the Founder and Director of Single Parent Missions, a ministry dedicated to raising up single parent families to transform generations. To subscribe to her daily “Hope Notes” for single parents, visit www.singleparentmissions.org. Matt is a single father and is the Founder and Director of A Father’s Walk Single Dad’s Ministry. To follow his blog, visit www.afatherswalk.org. Both are speakers and work with churches to envision and equip them for effective single parent ministry. 

Publication date: July 25, 2013