According to a 2020 U.S. Census Bureau Report (Living Arrangements of Children Under 18 Years Old – 1960 to Present), over 24 million children in the U.S. (close to 33% of all children), live without a biological, step, or adoptive father in the home. The impact of this dynamic, for all children but especially boys, is absolutely staggering. Consider the following statistics from various studies and governmental agency reports.
- 90%of all homeless and runaway youths are from fatherless homes,
- 85% of children who exhibit behavioral disorders are from fatherless homes,
- 75% of adolescent patients in substance abuse centers are from fatherless homes,
- 71% of high school dropouts are from fatherless homes,
- 70% of youths in State institutions are from fatherless homes, and yes,
- 65% of YOUTH SUICIDES are from fatherless homes.
Based on these statistics, “fatherlessness” could very well be described as THE biggest social problem facing America since it contributes to so many of the behavioral/societal ills we are dealing with in our country. So, how do we fix it? Well, there’s no easy answer to that question but somehow, individually, we each need to make an effort to reach out and positively impact the lives of these fatherless boys.
20 years ago, that’s exactly what Mike Gottfried did. As it turns out, the former college football head coach turned ESPN color commentator lost his father at the age of 11 and as he progressed through his coaching career, he came in contact with many players who grew up without a father figure in their life. Mike understood from his own experiences the challenges many of those young men faced. So, he and his wife,
Mickey, prayed about it and founded a ministry called Team Focus. Mike’s vision for Team Focus was to fill the fatherless gap for these boys by coming alongside them and helping them achieve the ultimate victory – to walk in the destiny God has planned for them. In fact, much of the inspiration for Team Focus came from scripture in the book of Jeremiah.
For I know the plans I have for you – plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.
From his own experience, Mike knew that no one can ever really replace your real dad. He did, however, believe that he and other volunteers would be able to mentor these adolescents year-round and teach them values like the importance of hard work and self-discipline, respect, caring for others and the importance of family – all the things a father would hopefully teach his son. Today at Team Focus Chapters, boys from 10 to 18 years of age are mentored throughout the year learning valuable life lessons and having the opportunity to participate in various special events including a 4-day Summer Camp. At these events they are taught about manners and social etiquette, how to treat women respectfully, attend Bible Study sessions and participate in athletic and recreational activities. They even learn the most basic things like how to tie a tie and interview for a job. Team Focus directors and volunteers spend quality time with these young men year round to help them understand that they do have value and most of all, that they are loved and cared for.
The result of Mike Gottfried’s vision 20 years later…Team Focus is alive and well and has over 7,000 alumni. And where are those alums? Almost all have graduated from high school and many went on to get their college degrees and advanced degrees. Many were athletes, thespians, musicians, etc. through their high school years and on into college. Today, many of them are engaged in their careers as teachers, coaches, businessmen, doctors and lawyers and many have chosen to pursue careers serving in the Armed Forces. And yes, many of them are now husbands and fathers. But maybe
best of all, they have learned that while they may not have had a relationship with their biological father, they do have a heavenly Father who loves them more than they will ever know; a Father who will always be there for them. Could there be any better way to make a difference in a young man’s life than to lead him to Jesus Christ?
My wife, Cindy, and I recently attended the Executive Directors’ Team Focus Retreat in North Carolina and we have made a decision to help launch Team Focus – Indiana in the weeks and months ahead. As the Co-Director of Team Focus – Indiana, I will be recruiting both members and volunteers to help us grow this ministry to help fatherless boys. I am honored and humbled to have this opportunity and with God’s help I am confident Cindy and I and a host of volunteers will help many fatherless boys achieve the ultimate victory. What a blessing indeed! (You can learn even more about Team Focus at: www.TeamFocusUSA.org).
Give thanks in everything, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1st Thessalonians 5:18