India Update #5

2015-01-12 image-1

It happens everywhere we go.

My wife connects deeply with random people in record time.

Though I've watched it over and over, I still can't explain how she does it. I've tried to analyze the process, but it's too spontaneous to recreate in the lab of my mind.

It's already happened several times on this trip. And it happened again today at the church where I preached.

Women of all ages welcomed her into their hearts. The twenty-somethings swapped email addresses and Facebook friend requests. The middle aged women asked to see pictures of our kids. And the senior saints just wanted to sit next to her and pat her hands and smile with their eyes.

They always end up sharing their stories. Mostly Ellen asks them questions and consistently shifts the focus away from herself.

But somewhere there's a connection that bridges cultures, languages, politics, and generations.

In the small town where we pastored our first church, they used to call her Ellie Mae after the Clampett's beautiful daughter on The Beverly Hillbillies.

Here in India they're much too formal for that, opting instead for "Madam President" -- a reminder of the lingering formality left behind by the British.

It doesn't matter what name they use. In their hearts they always call her "friend."

I'm so thankful that after years of traveling by myself, Ellen is now sometimes able to come along. I always teach better when she's with me, and everything I share seems to have greater credibility.

But even more than that, she has her own personal ministry. She rarely stands in front of a microphone. But her quiet authenticity speaks unforgettable truth whether she uses words, plays translation charades, or just takes the time to look into another woman's eyes as if to say, "I value you, and so does Jesus."

-Phil

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