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‘Internet Dad’ Provides Connection for Lonely People

Rob Kenney’s YouTube channel, “Dad, how do I?” went viral last year. Kenney released his first video shortly after the coronavirus pandemic was declared. He wanted to provide practical advice (“How to fix most running toilets”) and emotional support (“I am proud of you!”). But in a time defined by isolation and loneliness, his messages resonated with far more than the 30 or 40 subscribers he expected. Now he surpassed 3.4 million subscribers and 15 million views.

When “Good Morning America” referred to the 57-year-old as the “Internet’s Dad,” followers flooded him with stories about their parents, broken relationships, and traumatic experiences. Kenney said, “It breaks my heart that so many people need my channel.”

The seeds for his videos were planted in Kenney’s tumultuous childhood. When his parents divorced, his dad gained custody. His mom was legally declared unfit to parent as she turned to alcohol. Soon after, Kenney’s dad met another woman. On the weekend, he would stock up his kids with groceries and then leave them as he drove an hour away. After a year, he gathered his children to deliver a devastating message: “I’m done raising kids.”

Kenney, who was 14 at the time, moved in with his 23-year-old newlywed brother in a 280-square-foot trailer. His teenage experience was full of anger, sorrow, and confusion as he vowed to never cause his own children such pain. That pledge broadened when he realized he wasn’t the only kid without a dad around, so he doubled-down and decided he’d also help anyone else who needed a father figure.

Once Kenney reached his early 50s, feeling like he had accomplished his goal of raising two good adults. He thought he had plenty more life to live, zeroing in on the second part of his vow: to help others. His daughter says “I genuinely think he was put on Earth to be a dad.”

Over the past year, Kenney has leaned on his faith to prevent himself from feeling too overwhelmed. His early-morning habit of reading the Bible provides him with calmness and clarity. Last Father’s Day, his followers mailed him scores of cards (some handmade, many heartfelt). The fact that strangers are celebrating him at all reflects a man who found time to share his story—and a world that was desperate to hear it.

You can view his YouTube channel here.

Possible Preaching Angle:

Ultimately, our Father in heaven provides just what lonely and desperate people need to hear: He knows us individually and personally (Ps. 139:1-24), he is available 24/7 for fellowship (Matt. 6:9; 1 John 1:3), he carries our burdens (1 Pet. 5:7), and he satisfies every need we have (Ps. 23:1-6).

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