By Aldo Siahaan
Each of us involved in ministry are often faced with serious situations and/or situations that we do not know the answer to. Each person and situation we encounter has different challenges and their own uniqueness. For me there is one situation I often face that I want to share with you, one of the toughest parts of my ministry.
One afternoon, I was enjoying the nice weather in Philadelphia, running errands. I came out of the bank and noticed an Indonesian man I occasionally meet within a stairwell off Broad street. I asked him – What are you doing here?
He told me, “Oh nothing, my feet hurt and I had to sit for a while before I can continue my walk home. I cannot walk too far.”
I ask him why this is so.
The man answered, saying “Probably because I am too tired from work. I have to send money to my children and grandchildren in Indonesia. My son is working but not enough to support his family. So I have to send him money for himself and my grandchildren. I long to be together with them.”
I saw there were tears in his eyes as his longing to be together with his family was deep. I stood with him and listened to him tell stories about his family.
Another time, a woman knocked on my house door to ask me a question. She has been apart from her two daughters for 16 years. She left both her daughters in Indonesia when they were little. For 16 years their grandfather has cared for them. The day the woman came to visit me, her first child had graduated from school and is working, the second is finishing her Bachelor’s degree. 16 years is a long time when we are apart from our families. She asked me, “Aldo, is this the time for me to return to Indonesia?”
A tough question to answer, because I realized that everybody has different needs and different situations. This woman decided to return to Indonesia to be with her daughters.
Both the Indonesian man and woman were dealing with family separation. It is something I can relate to as an immigrant, and a situation I often have to help others walk through as a pastor to fellow immigrants. Very often I hear these kinds of stories in my ministry. For me, this is one of the toughest parts of my ministry as each person and situation is unique. However, I thank God that these people are willing to share their struggle and stories with me. I am grateful, we are all part of the family of God and God is in control for the families here in the United States, in Indonesia, and anywhere were families are separated. May we continue to entrust God with our families, especially when we are apart from one another.
Aldo Siahaan is a LEADership Minister for Franconia Conference, and pastor at Philadelphia Praise Center.