U.S. missionary Lois Breit understands the path of a single mom.
She survived the emotional and financial shock of being abandoned with five children, thanks to the support and encouragement of her church. Now she serves as a U.S. missionary with Missionary Church Planters & Developers. She speaks to churches and women’s ministry groups across the country about showing the love of Christ to vulnerable and hurting women, just as her church did for her.
Over 24 million children in the U.S. live in single-parent homes. According to Kids Count Data Center, “children growing up in single-parent families typically do not have the same economic or human resources available as those in two-parent families. [They] are more likely to drop out of school, to have or cause a teen pregnancy, and to experience a divorce in adulthood.” Youth from single-parent families are more likely to be incarcerated at some point in their lives.
Some children do live with only their father, but single mother households are more common. And they are often overwhelmed. Parenting without a supportive partner is hard and dealing with family finances alone makes it even harder. A young mom, or one who has been out of the workforce for some time, typically enters the job market at a low salary. Fathers may fail to pay child support or disappear completely. Sometimes a spouse dies without a financial plan.
Faith communities seem like the obvious place to get help. However, it is estimated that less than one-third of single parents attend church. Some are too busy keeping up with responsibilities to put church on the schedule. Some feel judged at church. They feel like people silently criticize their past choices. Breit commends churches who accept single mothers with the tangible love of Jesus.
Breit helps churches and people understand the problems single moms face and shows them how they can help. She offers practical ideas, like transportation or camp scholarships, to investing in the family’s future through budgeting classes or mentoring young boys. She also suggests churches compare congregation demographics. If the percentage of single parent families in your church is lower than your state percentage, you’re not reaching them. “Some churches reach out to youth, but not their mothers,” she says. “If a kid comes to youth group but goes home to a mess, how do we make progress?”
Much of Breit’s ministry involves casting vision with women’s ministry directors, districts, and local churches. Some host retreats just for single mothers. These special events include speakers, resources, spa time, good coffee, and often a thrift shop or clothing swap. It is exciting to see women’s lives being changed.
Here are just a few examples:
Breit has written several devotional resources to encourage single moms in their walk with the Lord. From her own experience, she knows it is possible to look beyond the statistics and focus on God’s promises for themselves and their children.
The Bible calls us to care for widows and orphans. Single mothers, facing similar loneliness and stigma, are today’s cultural equivalent of the early Church’s widows. With encouragement from Breit and other women’s ministry leaders, churches can obey the biblical mandate and change the lives of single mothers and their children.
You can help change the lives of single moms and their kids in your community. Check out Lois Breit’s books and talk to your church leaders about ways for your congregation to minister to single mothers!
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