Some years ago in prayer the mandate to “Father, My City” was impressed into my psyche. At the time, I was leading a group of men in prayer. For a year, I spent every Sunday morning and every Wednesday night with a team of men leading in prayer. There were 9 teams assigned over a month with 100 men total. It was an amazing year. Then one evening, “Father, My City” was impressed over and over into my heart and mind.
Quizzical thoughts shuttered through my mental moments. What did it mean? Why would God ask me to father His city? How do you do such a thing?
The next day I went to a luncheon at the invitation of a friend. All I knew was they had an idea for a conference and would like me to be involved. As I listened to the speaker, I laughed and gained understanding. Ken Canfield, founder and then director of the National Center for Fathering, was drawing the picture of fatherless America and calling us to action.
At the conclusion of the meeting, I agreed to assist in developing a citywide thrust for a fathering event. In short form, we trained over six hundred men from 150 congregations, and further trained 125 men to do small group studies in their community. From there, I became a certified trainer for the National Center for Fathering and have lead multiple citywide events across the community and denominations engaging government, education, non-profit, business, and congregations. I guess I began to understand a little about what “Father, My city” might mean.
This week, I watched as a group from our community in Gainesville, Texas graduate with family alongside. Wives of men thanked me for the change they have seen in their grads of Life Skills. Husbands and boyfriends did the same. The energy and excitement in the group and their families still causes me to weep. Joy has replaced hopelessness. Expectation of a Better Life Forward has replaced dull pain and discouragement. A Transformer (that’s how I address those I work around), drew an amazing picture of the process we see week after week. From thinking whether we are nuts to exploding out of pain and darkness, to becoming a Transformer of family and neighborhood is a process I see over and over. We are fathering a city through sending high action people into the streets with new thinking and social skills.
Now we are working at the next level of involvement and engagement. There is education and empowering and engagement. It takes all three actions to transform a community.
That luncheon was 13 years ago. Many rivers have been crossed. Many are ahead. Many mountains must be climbed. In OKC and Gainesville, we have seen transformation. How will you “Father, My city” when He calls? What will you do?