It started with a conviction. The kids across the street playing in an empty lot needed a friend. As Josh entered college his life slowly became intertwined with some twenty kids from the surrounding neighborhood. Started by his friend, Josh found himself the primary instigator of time with the kids. And the relationships grew. Most of the kids had no father present and many had only a ghost of a mother. Countless times the kids would tell Josh about wandering the streets whenever they pleased and often they asked to be dropped off far away from the places they called home. These middle and high school-aged kids had seen it all and for a sheltered, country boy like Josh these friendships were always an invitation to walk beside kids into unfamiliar territory.

Josh’s fiance Harmonee arrived at school a semester later and introduced herself to the group. Slowly the couple transitioned from taking the group to church and began having a weekly meal coupled with Bible study and honest discussion at Josh’s apartment. “Most of the time it doesn’t seem like you’re making that much of a difference,” Harmonee confesses, but the stories the couple share tell a different story: kids running to meet them calling out “Mama H.” and “Daddy J.;” calling during the week to talk about tragedy and fear; and trusting enough to ask deep, soul-searching questions. The once-a-week trips are adding up to more. The kids know that any day of the week they have someone to call. There is someone who cares.

Are there children around you who need an advocate or a friend? Defending the fatherless doesn’t just mean adopting, fostering or giving money. Sometimes it just means caring.

Kelley Tegen
Caroline's Promise South Carolina