Browse religious books at the library or local bookstore and you might find one with that very title, The Blessing(s) of Brokenness (Charles Stanley, Tony Evans). A Google search on the same topic will undoubtedly bring up a host of sermon references, blog posts, and digital devotional thoughts. Many of those are great resources for the body of Christ, helping shape a solid Biblical perspective on pain and suffering in the world today and its presence in the lives of believers. That’s not the kind of brokenness which I’m pondering at the moment.
Serving in mission aviation, the brokenness on which many of my waking hours are focused revolves around aircraft. We spend time intentionally planning periods of brokenness so we can inspect our aircraft and identify and repair any discrepancies before they develop into concerning problems. Inevitably, there are also times of brokenness which were unscripted, not in the plan, and we roll with those as well. Such was the case recently when our only helicopter came in for what could be considered a relatively “minor” repair which actually entails a major amount of work.
Pulling our helicopter out of service is never done on a whim as doing so means taking out of commission the primary means of transport, resupply, and access to medical care for over a dozen of our church planting teams across Papua New Guinea. At the moment, the logistics of it all is further complicated as we don’t have a qualified helicopter pilot in-country. So, while another mission’s pilot is able to fly it for us, that means the plan was for our helicopter to spend a good deal of time at their operating location to eliminate the need for their pilot to be flown to Goroka (the town in which our operations are based) to pick up it up when flights were needed.
Long intro, lots of background, but here’s the point. With recent illnesses and absences in our aviation department, our helicopter has been parked in our hangar, undergoing a planned repair for longer than expected. We could wring our hands in angst, wondering why the Lord would allow this much needed and potentially life-saving tool to sit idle, unusable. After all, had things gone according to my plan, the repair would have been completed and the helicopter long gone from our hangar. My plan, though, didn’t foresee a significant COVID-19 outbreak across the province in which we live which would stretch the limits of the local healthcare system. My plan didn’t anticipate a co-worker, friend, and brother in Christ calling me yesterday morning and responding with an unmistakable sense of urgency in his voice, “No, I am not alright…” after I’d answered the phone and glibly thrown out the traditional, “Hey, friend, you doing alright?” My plan would have had the helicopter almost 100 kilometers away when I got the news that one of his daughters, having had trouble breathing, had fallen unresponsive and while medication had been administered, it would not take effect for several hours, during which time it was imperative for her oxygen levels to be kept up.
What does all that have to do with a broken helicopter? While supplemental breathing oxygen seems to be in short supply, our helicopter had years ago been fitted with a small, portable bottle which allows our pilots to fly at higher altitudes when needed (like now, during rainy season, when thunderstorms begin to build in the afternoons). With leadership’s approval and with mechanics to remove, service, and deliver it, that bottle was made available to my friend. As another of his daughters fell severely ill later in the day, that small bottle proved critical in supplying oxygen to stabilize the two girls through the day and into the night.
Wasn’t my plan, but I’m thankful it was God’s. Thankful that despite the helicopter being broken at the moment, it still was able to be a blessing, providing life sustaining support. In the end, that’s what we’re here for. Not just to fix and fly fancy machines. Not just so people may have a better life in their short time here on earth. We are here because we desire to see people from every nation, and tribe, and tongue experience abundant life through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, both now and forevermore.
Want to find out more about the new helicopters we pray will expand our aviation services? Check out “three helicopters for PNG.”