Every week children across the country wake up in the morning to go to school, most of them grudgingly. Throughout the day, they are guided and taught by teachers the information they will need to succeed in life. When they return home tired and exhausted, most will be greeted by their parents, at least their mothers. The reality though, is that most have little to no connection with their fathers, an important part of a child’s life left vacant.
Fathers share the same responsibilities as teachers, but even more so as they have the task of guiding their children through the perils of life. Children whose fathers are incarcerated are hit even harder by this abandonment, as they know where their fathers are yet they are not able to truly bond with them. This is where Malachi Dads comes in, a program of Awana Lifeline, committed to providing male prisoners with community and helping them.
“Learn to live up to their biblical responsibility as a dad.”
Born in Angola prison, one of the harshest prisons in America, Malachi Dads have taken it upon themselves to present the Gospel of Jesus Christ to prisoners, knowing that God has the power to transform those society has given up on. Most of the men at Angola are serving life sentences, which is why it is so surprising to see them actively meeting with one another and reading the bible to ensure they become better men, better husbands, and better fathers. The fact they will never be getting out does not deter them, because they cherish the few moments they have with their children, moments they use to show their kids they have a father who loves them.
Today, the Malachi Dads program has spread beyond the walls of Angola and into 28 prisons across the country, signaling a change in the culture, one where fatherlessness is rampant. According to the U.S Census Bureau, 24 million children in America – one out of every three – live in biological father absent homes. That’s more than 1.7 million children across the USA. And statistically those children are two to three more times likely to wind up behind bars themselves.
Even though the Malachi Dads program has brought a great deal of families together throughout the U.S., there are still a large number of people who are reeling from the effects of not having an active father in their life, both children and prisoners. Fellowship Monrovia, taking notice of this issue, is partnering with Malachi Dads to ensure that even more prisoners have the opportunity to experience discipleship and grow in Christ.
Fellowship Monrovia’s desire to be a part of this ministry began when the Head Pastor Albert Tate was invited to preach at an event in Angola Prison. Another individual who helped to set up this partnership was Rudy brown, who attends Fellowship and works in prison Ministries. After recommending and encouraging the church to get involved with Malachi Dads, Fellowship decided to do so after seeing the amazing transformation in the lives of the prisoners and their families. Brandon Spencer, the community life pastor, perfectly summarizes Fellowship Monrovia’s intentions, saying, “This is a great ministry where we practically get to take discipleship to a group of people who can’t come to us… to include this community of people who are outcasts, who are definitely pushed to the side.”
Brandan Spencer is the LifeGroup Lead Pastor at Fellowship Monrovia. At age 15 he moved to California from Birmingham, AL after a 5 year season of searching for purpose in the brokenness of divorced parents. After hearing the Gospel of Jesus and responding to the grace of God at 15, he jumped right into ministry and began serving in student and worship ministries where he began to realize he was called by God. Brandan graduated from Biola University with a degree in Christian Education and at his core he believes the pursuit of God is one of the most exhilarating adventures of life. Brandan served as a Worship Pastor for 8 years, taught the word of God for the past 10 years, and discipled people for over 15 years. Brandan married his best friend of 16 years, Tiana Spencer, and this year they celebrate 11 years of marriage along with their 3 girls Jaeda, Jasmyn, and baby Caris.