Churches around the world spend millions of dollars each year trying to invite, entice, and recruit people to come to their church. Jesus did not have a physical church so he just took it to the streets. The Bible says in Mark 16:15, “And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.” You would find Jesus in the market place, at the water well, and even in the leper’s camp.
When you take the message of hope to those who are hopeless, lonely or in need of someone just to care, you experience what Jesus did. You experience a connection, compassion, and many times a life transformation.
I remember traveling to a community in one of the countries we provided humanitarian service. Our partner took us to a cliff side community where the reality exceeded our worse expectation. Our team descended down a cliff on a narrow path of stone and wooden steps overgrown with vegetation and covered with debris. It was then that we realized the term remote was more than appropriate. With each step we descended into an underworld where time seemed to stand still and the plight of a rural community was in stark contrast to the urban community of their neighbors living above. Garbage, debris, and raw sewage are pushed or piped over the cliffs to rain down on the people living below. These remote communities are only accessible by treacherous paths from above or by boats from the river. The residents here live a meager lifestyle provided by the river and what they can salvage from the garbage and debris that rains down from above. Extreme poverty has forced these families to fight for survival every day.
Our team steps over raw sewage passing makeshift homes and tents while seeing curious faces peering out from windows and behind trees as we enter their community. We spoke with several residents and met a young lady named Silvia who provided us a glimpse into her life. She described the struggles mothers endure providing for their families. She shared that she once lived above with her husband, but he abandoned the family many years ago. Silvia was unable to provide for her three children above and was forced to move to the lower levels. She states, “Life is difficult and no one seems to care. No one seems to care…we are lost and forgotten down here. “
When asked about her children’s future, she was brought to tears. She is doing the best she can to survive and provide a future for her children. It upsets her greatly when she thinks about their future for she does not know what is to come. Silvia continues, “Many people are routinely sick although it’s the hardest on the children and the elderly.” Silvia knows the water is affecting them, but she can’t afford to buy bottled water when her primary focus is to provide a meal for her family. There are many days she does not eat so the children can have at least one meal per day. She states, “I don’t know what I did to deserve this life, but I only wished someone could help us.”
Sadly, Silvia and her neighbors are like millions around the world without access to clean drinking water. Many mothers know the water is bad, but since it does not kill them as adults they continue using the water for survival. They are unaware that it takes a child at least five years to develop their immune system. During this developmental stage, consumption of contaminated water is breaking down the child’s immune systems resulting in serious illness, long-term health, and development issues if the child is able to survive past the age of five.
Because people that care were in the streets of this community, Silvia and her family are healthy. We have to remember those in need for God commands us in Proverbs 19:17, “Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed.” Silvia was given a water filter to provide clean water for her and the children for ten years. Food and water filters were distributed to the rest of the community and the people found hope in the service of someone who cared.
Written By: Pastor Ronnie Guynes