This past Monday in the late afternoon, we had some very welcome visitors. Emmanuel and Allison Pothen from India, along with their two children Karis and Nico, stopped by our home accompanied by Emmanuel’s sister Grace.
Although I usually spend some time with Emmanuel on an annual basis, because of a number of factors, it had been about two years since we had a real visit such as this.
The first thing that was inescapable to me was the absolutely delightful and enthusiastic energy of the 11 and 9 year olds, Karis and Nico. Although extremely well mannered and polite, they were none-the-less hungry to do some things “fun”! They ran in the yard, rode tricycles down the small hill behind our home, learned to swing a bat at a wiffle ball, played piano and a myriad of other things during this nearly two hour visit. (This reminded me of a little song that many of us sang in the early days of our upbringing: “Jesus loves the little children, all the little children of the world”!)
When we began to share with Emmanuel and Allison in particular, there were some very significant circumstances and situations that came to light. Even though we have over 30 years of experience together dating back to when Emmanuel’s father and mother, Abraham and Molly Pothen, finished their studies at Fuller Seminary and returned to their homeland to launch a new ministry.
Emmanuel began to share just how difficult things have become in India over the past 18 months or so. Of course, first and foremost seemed to be the impact of the pandemic which was rather easy in the first wave, but quite difficult in the second. Emmanuel shared how many millions of people had been affected by attempts to control the virus forcing most all of them to slide slowly below the poverty level which he perceived will continue for another two or more years because the nation of India simply does not have the resources or the mechanisms to distribute the vaccine amongst its own 1.2 billion person population.
Even as we are beginning to celebrate the reopening of many parts of our nation, Emmanuel was burdened by the weight that his nation would not likely reopen for quite a while.
The second circumstance that I did not fully comprehend was just how difficult it had become, due to government policies, for all NGO’s to receive and distribute support donations to whomever the constituency might be; from simply feeding the hungry and housing those without shelter; to advancing their mission and pushing forward with their specific goals and objectives.
Imagine having a will to want to help people from providing basic survival resources to bringing them to a place where their lives might be eternally changed by the message of the Kingdom of God.
As this conversation went along, I could sense the weight of this burden upon Emmanuel and Allison because they had been making such progress in the advancement of the ministry passed on to him through his father’s passing nearly two years ago. It’s not from lack of passion, training or strategy; it’s because outside circumstances that are being controlled by others have temporarily put a limit on what they can do.
That perspective for me was truly humbling as I recognize that we have many obstacles in our lives and callings that may seem to be formidable and even difficult to overcome. However, I dare say that few of us have these kinds of pervasive and seemingly intractable situations that are with us every day with no end in sight.
During this time, the Lord impressed me that these are the kinds of situations when we need to step up our care and support for one another. As many of you know, I have my own health issues right now, but none of that should stop me from being able to connect with a brother and his family who are going through a very oppressive time where they need the encouragement that a caring relationship can bring.
Like many of you, I’m going to have to move some things around to make this happen, but the perspective that Emmanuel brought helped me to realize that things could be much worse where I am and that perhaps in some small way, I can make things a little bit better where he is.
Perhaps this is what Paul meant when he said that we are to “bear one another’s burdens” and to “love one another” as Christ loved us.
So please pause at the end of this post and consider your circumstance and then ask God to show you someone, perhaps already in your life or someone that you have not seen in quite a while, that may be in a much more difficult and challenging situation than you perceive yourself to be. Reach out to them and take the first step of initiating a connection. You won’t really know what God might teach you until you, too, are humbled by perspective.
Blessings in Jesus!