The following is a reflection from CBF field personnel Annette Ellard, who serves primarily among the Karen population in Louisville, Ky., alongside her husband Steve Clark. You can learn more about their ministries and support their work at www.cbf.net/clark.
Because we are called upon to help in all sorts of situations and with all kinds of questions, the Karen people of Louisville call me “Karen 911” and both Steve and me “the Karen mother and father.”
Sometimes, I think we have seen or heard it all. There was the time an interpreter in Minnesota and his friend in Louisville helped Steve and me rescue a newly-arrived refugee who was lost and did not know where he lived. Or there was the incident when we were interrupted by a phone call during a church presentation by a teenager whose mother had gone into labor.
Now, of course, many turn to us for help regarding anything and everything related to the pandemic. Someone feeling sick calls, asking, “Is it the virus? Should I go to the hospital?” We use the CDC Self-Checker to help them evaluate their symptoms and plan a course of action. We might send them to the ER or help them contact their primary care doctor the next morning.
I got a call from another person whose friend was having trouble breathing. He knew how to contact his friend only through Facebook Messenger and didn’t know what to do. I instructed him to have his friend send me a friend request. When I discovered he did not speak much English, I added an interpreter to the Messenger call. After a quick assessment, I used another phone to call 911 as the interpreter and I stayed on the phone with him. When emergency services arrived, the interpreter and I assisted until they transported him to the hospital.
These are challenging—and sometimes frightening—situations; but I knew what to do or at least how to figure it out. I found ways around the obstacles to get to a solution. I am used to that.
But I got a recent text that was different: “Good morning. Do you know when COVID-19 will go away? When will kids go back to school and we won’t have to wear a mask anymore?”
The question was straight forward and matter-of-fact, but I didn’t know how to respond. Of course, I didn’t know. But I could not text her back and say that. I paused a few moments to try to think past the questions to why she was asking them. Then, I texted her back: “Do you have time for a phone call?”
Like so many of us, this young mother was struggling with life in the pandemic. She felt that she could wait it out if only she just knew how long it would last. She was overwhelmed by the uncertainty of it all. With two small children, both of whom had faced recent illnesses, the threat of infection with COVID-19 hung over her like a dark cloud that might unloose a storm at any moment.
Although she was seeing around her that many didn’t believe the threat was real, she understood the reality of it. She also felt that some saw her efforts to protect her family as evidence of a lack of faith. I encouraged her that her efforts to be a good mother, in fact, are evidence of her faith in God and her faithfulness to God.
We talked about other young mothers who also are struggling—not just with the pandemic, but with all the uncertainty they feel about raising children in a different context than that in which their mothers had raised them.
Last fall, we had discussed starting a mommy group for education, mentoring and fellowship. But because of other circumstances and then the pandemic, the plan had stalled.
As we talked about her struggle and the struggles of other young mothers, it became clear to both of us that such a group was sorely needed. It would be very different than we initially imagined, but even if it would be only a virtual group, we decided we had to try.
In uncertain times—even in certain times—we must continue to be faithful in our commitment to the things to which God has called us. Likewise, we must have faith in God’s faithfulness to us.
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus” Philippians 4:6-7 NLT. “I can do everything through Christ who gives me strengt.” Philippians 4:13 NLT.