(Villagers in Tum Tum Tara, Honduras, are given a water filter, a bucket, and instruction how to have clean water in their homes)
It’s As Simple as A Cup of Water
by Bishop Chris Giesler
Preaching Text: Matthew 10:40-42
It has been my privilege to travel extensively in the Moravian world, especially in my current position with the Board of World Mission. Some of this travel has been in parts of the world where poverty is widespread and crushing. These are places where the annual average family income is less than $2,000 per year. This is compared to $70,000 in the United States. Part of our work here at the Board of World Mission is to share the love of Christ in Word and care for the whole person by providing medical care, education, adequate food, and clean water.
But no matter where I have gone, whether it be Germany or Tanzania, I have always been welcomed into homes where I have been offered a kind word, food, bottled water, and shelter. It is as if my hosts took this text to heart.
You will miss the point if you jump into today’s text without looking at the context. This is the third section of Jesus’ instructions to the disciples as they depart on their first missionary journey. Here they are instructed that they will be called upon to do many of the same things that Jesus has already been doing. They will the arms and feet of Jesus to the people they encounter. First is the invitation to serve, and then comes the warning that there is a good chance that they will meet with opposition, just as Jesus has encountered it (Matthew 10:24-25).
And now, in these verses, Jesus speaks directly to his disciples and indirectly to those who will welcome not only them but the servants of Jesus far into the future. The lesson is that those who provide hospitality to them will be providing hospitality not only to Jesus but to God, who sent him. As noted in my opening paragraph, I have experienced this hospitality time and time again, and it is humbling. I hope and pray that I have provided the same for the servants of God who have stayed in my home for a night or two.
This need not be a complicated or well-planned event. It can be as simple as a cup of cold water to a thirsty soul.
In recent months the two Honduran provinces of the Moravian Church have identified four urgent needs due to last year’s floods: 1) Food; 2) Seeds of rice, beans, and vegetables; 3) Medicines; and 4) Drinking water. The Moravian Board of World Mission has distributed bean and vegetable seeds, sent a container of pre-packaged food, and bought medicine. The last of the urgent items left unaddressed before the visit to Tumtum Tara was that of drinking water.
The Tumtum Tara project is a cooperative effort of four groups, the Board of World Mission, an organization called “One Atta Time,” the Reformed Church in America, and the local pastors in Tumtum Tara. Together we have provided each of the 159 families with a water filter and a bucket to have clean water in their homes.
Before the water filters were delivered, we surveyed the village’s families, and all reported at least one person who had suffered from intestinal issues. 40% of them reported symptoms such as headache or fatigue from waterborne disease. 20% of the families said that either school or work had been missed because of illness. Water samples from the village well showed extremely high levels of E. coli.
Now water from the well is poured into the bucket and run through the small filter, removing 99.9% of the bacteria. The families are also given training to know how best to maintain the filters, which can last up to 10 years, and filter one million gallons of water.
We view the partnership in Tumtum Tara as a pilot project. If successful and all agree, our goal is to expand the potable water project to other communities. We are aware that nearly every community in the region needs a reliable source of drinking water.
Being the Body of Christ in the world today is our calling and mission; all it takes is caring for the needs of those around us, both near and far.