We have recently celebrated Mother’s and Father’s Days here in the United States. I am blessed to have been raised by loving, hard-working parents, and every year at this time I strive to find a meaningful way to honor them. My mom and dad provided abundantly for my brother, sister, and me – both in material and non-material ways, for all of my needs and some of my wants. They fed and clothed me, made sure I did my homework, took me to the doctor, listened to my piano recitals, celebrated my accomplishments, and most importantly — gave me an example of Christian faith to follow. It’s hard to imagine where I’d be in my life if not for the influence of my parents.
Now I’m a mother also, and I have new appreciation for the hard work involved in raising our son, Simon. I’m certainly grateful that I don’t have to parent alone, and that my husband is a wonderful, engaged father. I am also grateful to the other caretakers in Simon’s life — his grandma, day care teachers, and our friends who watch him in the children’s ministry at church. Sometimes, it’s not that easy to entrust our child to another person. The capabilities and trustworthiness of the other caretaker are not the problem; it’s simply that my heartstrings are pulled and I wish I could do more for my son. I wish I could be the “super mom” who is always present and available to Simon: cooking from scratch, providing innovative and creative learning opportunities, and keeping an über-organized, clean home. But the reality is, I need help. We all need help! I repeat the old African proverb often that it takes a village to raise a child.
God understands this too and guides us with the Holy Spirit. This reminds me of Jairus, the synagogue leader who appealed to Jesus in an hour of critical need (Matthew 9:18-26). Though he waited until his daughter had died, he believed that Jesus would raise her back to life, and Jesus did. Out of love and desperation, Jairus asked for help and Jesus responded. What a joyous, miraculous event that must have been!
Imagine now the loving parents of the Bethania children. Many of the kids are not orphans; they come from families that are too poor to adequately take care of them. This is the case for Esther, who is not quite 11 years old and living at the Grace Children’s Home in Nagercoil. Esther’s family lives in Madurai, a large city about 250 kilometers away. She comes from a Christian family and both of her parents are blind. Recognizing that they cannot provide everything that she needs to grow and flourish, they entrusted Esther to Bethania’s care. I imagine that it must have been very sad and humbling for her parents to send her so far away. Yet, by God’s grace, she is receiving high quality physical and spiritual care as she pursues her dreams of becoming a doctor. When she visits her family, she is a light to all in her community.
God understands that parenting is a tough job. Jairus needed help, I need help, and so do many parents in India. We can extend a helping hand to families who lack the financial resources that we have. In fact, a donation to Bethania makes a great Father’s Day gift, if you are still looking for one. May God bless all of the mothers and fathers, both here and in India.