For many of the fatherless, Father’s Day is not a holiday but a day filled with sadness, embarrassment and rejection. Within the Nashville project communities, a father is a treasure rarely found.
But for Father’s Day this year, our Family Relations Team felt inspired by the Lord to organize a special event for children who do not have a father figure in their lives. On Sunday, June 17th, fathers who regularly volunteer with Elijah’s Heart gathered with their families to host a fun day of activities for these precious children – a day to show them they are loved and valued.
The day began at a team member’s home where the children were greeted with a hug and served food fresh off the grill followed by snow cones for dessert. Each child then decorated a goody bag that was later filled with snacks and fun surprises (Thank you, Grace Center church, for donating freshly baked cookies!).
Next, it was off to the park for relay races, basketball and fun on the playground. And as an extra special ending to the day, Papa Joe and the other fathers gathered the children to pray for them and to give them a “father’s blessing.” Before the kids went back to the projects, they were given a photo they had taken earlier in the day with Papa Joe to help them remember the day and to remind them that there are people who care. For all of us, it was a day that will not be forgotten.
The children we celebrated with this day have experienced so very much in their short lives. We’d like to briefly share with you a couple of their incredible stories:
One young girl has to live with her aunt because her mother battles a crack addiction and is in and out of rehab and jail. This girl’s father, though not living with her, was actively involved in her life. Her favorite time of the day was when he would walk her to and from school. On one of these walks, her father got into an altercation with a police officer and was shot and killed right before her eyes. A member of one of the project communities we touch, the young girl was able to develop a close relationship with the Elijah’s Heart team. Now, she has made Jesus Christ her Lord and Savior and knows that He loves her and is always there for her. She is a member of our Unity Choir and is now excelling in school as a top student in her grade.
Three children in our Unity Choir (two girls and a boy) were raised by their unstable mother in a dangerous home environment. The oldest girl was sexually abused by her grandfather for nine years and kept it a secret for fear he would “take her away”. Her grandfather was eventually arrested, but the abuse left her shattered and prone to fits of rage. One day, their mother attempted suicide and the little boy (only 5 years old at the time) found her lying on the bathroom floor. A week later, the Lord brought the three children to the Unity Choir and we introduced them to Jesus. All the children had experienced frequent nightmares, but soon after accepting Jesus, they reported that the nightmares were gone!
These are just a couple of the many testimonies from the children who attended the Father’s Day event. It is amazing to witness the transformative effect that God’s love can have on a person’s life.
We invite you to join with us on our mission to impact lives such as these!
See the rest of the photos and more on the Elijah’s Heart facebook page.