Happy Father’s Day! As we celebrate with the fathers in our lives today, we’re examining what qualities make a good dad. For a group of our clients in a pilot project in Colombia, they’re examining that question in depth, and developing their leadership skills as men and fathers. In the post below, Jim Frantz, Opportunity Colombia‘s chief transformation officer, explains Opportunity’s Male Trust Group Project and the challenges of being a good father in any culture.
Male Trust Group Project
Opportunity Colombia is laying the final stages of groundwork to implement the Male Trust Group pilot project, which consists of a customized training curriculum and ministry to male clients built upon the successes of the traditionally more women-centered Trust Groups. Its goal is to positively impact clients’ families and communities by developing good leadership among the men, and by uncovering and positively responding to the unique needs, challenges and talents of our male clients.
For many years, Opportunity International has spoken about the need to provide financial services for women since they are often the most impoverished. The reason so many women are in poverty is because the men have abandoned them, so they must carry the economic and emotional burden alone. One of our donors asked us, if the problem was the men, why not find a way to impact the men themselves encouraging them to change their behavior? The Male Trust Group program aims to raise awareness among men of their God-given responsibilities and encourage them to be emotional and economic leaders in their homes. The pilot, which we will finish in the next couple of months, developed six training modules to develop “men of value.”
The themes of the training modules are: A Man of Value, a Husband of Value, a Father of Value, a Businessman of Value, a Man of Value in the Community, and What God Values in a Man. After completing two modules, participants are invited to participate in an activity to live out the teachings. After the module on being a husband of value, we ask the men to invite their wives to a movie night to watch Fireproof, a film about a husband’s re-commitment to his troubled marriage and to his faith. We set up tablecloths, candles, flowers and a meal so the men can honor their wives. We model the desired behavior.
After the module on being a father of value, we invite the entire family to a day of activities, games, and bonding, facilitated by the Opportunity staff. The goal is to create a space where the family can practice expressing their feelings, affection, and acknowledging each other’s values together. It also allows the fathers to apply the knowledge they acquired in the program training sessions; to gain a better understanding of the first three training modules and the dinner/movie date night activity with their spouses.
Recreation day starts with the families writing their last name vertically on a piece of paper or tagboard, and together they come up with values that describe their family that start with the letters in their last name. The father then presents his family and its values to the group, and has the sheet taped or pinned on him, helping to identify him as the leader of the family. In the pilot, we reached out to about 100 men for the training series and have started replicating elements in other cities.
The Challenges for Fathers in Colombia
I think one of the biggest challenges that Colombian fathers face is breaking a history of emotional and physical poverty. Colombia is a machista society where men have felt they have the right to live lifestyles that cater to them first. They’ve seen this played out in their fathers and grandfathers and this has become the norm, engrained in their minds. As in any country, there are incredible men who embrace their roles as fathers in a sacrificial and loving way, but a dominant culture of “me first” is more common, in my opinion. Men need to willingly stay with their families and guide their sons and daughters through the physical, economic, emotional and spiritual dangers that surround them.
My Personal Journey to Be a Godly Husband and Father
There are so many challenges to being a husband and father, and so many that I have failed at miserably. I think the biggest challenge is not giving up on striving to be the man that God intended me to be. I struggle daily to find that balance in doing justly, loving mercily and walking humbly with my God. Many times, it is easier to do this with coworkers or impoverished people we serve than with our own families.
If I could give one Father’s Day message to fathers around the world it would be don’t give up on striving to be better, on trying to love deeper and on seeking that balance between justice and mercy within your family. God gave us all gifts and talents and a lifetime of experiences that we can use to encourage and care for our families. Many times we become paralyzed focusing more on our fears, defects and weaknesses and we don’t allow God’s grace and power to shine through. As it says in the book of Proverbs, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways, submit to Him and He will make your paths straight.”
Happy Father’s Day from Opportunity International.
Contribute to a father’s loan to help him provide for his family. Meet some of Opportunity’s male clients and help them reach their goals. Visit opportunity.org/fundaloan.