Saturday, September 21, 2013

Living Water International 2013 Gala

One of the board of directors at Living Water International is the aunt of a friend of mine.  Each year, Living Water hosts a gala to obviously raise money but also to open-heartedly declare all that Jesus is doing in the world through clean water.  My friend and her husband were unable to attend with her aunt this year, so she asked her aunt to invite us in their place.  Living Water is heavily involved in Zambia, and we see the evidence of the fruit of their work on our visits to work with the kids and CACZ.  I teach the importance of clean water and the pure crisis that is the lack of clean water globally, and after Kate's charity: water project back in the Spring, I was excited to see how God is at work with Living Water.  Our church also sponsors a trip to Central America each summer to dig wells.  Our excitement about last night's gala has been growing for weeks.

The gala was hosted at Hilton Americas in downtown.  We had never visited this hotel, and it truly is beautiful.  The huge globe on the lounge wall was befitting of last night's event.

When we arrived upstairs, families and couples were visiting, partaking in a short walk for water, taking pictures with the rig that digs wells, and taking photos displaying ways that each family is committing to help with the crisis.  We met several families, some of whom haven't traveled to help dig a well but pray as a family consistently for people to have access to clean water.  We met others who have been on several trips and save all year to be able to join their church in digging a well with Living Water.  Other are board members who dedicate countless hours to ensuring that overhead is minimal, folks on the ground in the nations that partner with Living Water are able to do their jobs, and implementing programs to educated people in America and around the world.  The mix of roles was refreshing and had a profound effect on the atmosphere of the evening.  There was abundant joy and anticipation to enter the ballroom not so much to have a fancy meal but to hear of all God is doing.

Fourteen hundred people entered the ballroom last night.  Each of us heard how the Gospel of Jesus is changing lives around the world as clean water is brought into struggling communities.  Lisa Pierre, a local music artist, was the emcee last night.  Her beautiful voice gently pulled in each guest to hear the stories of empowerment, not charity, that have occurred through the work of Living Water.  I so strongly believe that empowering people to care for themselves, to seek Jesus, and to build the stamina to keep on in life is what it takes to make a community change.  Handouts just don't solve any problems.  Living Water is empowering communities and making a difference in the name of Jesus.

Willys Geffrard, a soft-spoken but incredibly powerful man from northern Haiti, came to share how God is working through clean water projects in his home country.  We heard how people come to church because they believe that Jesus cares about them because there is clean water in the community.  Children are no longer punished by their parents when they are late to school from having to walk long distances to fetch water from the river in the local ravine because there is now clean water in the community.  At that point, the tears began flowing from my eyes.

Ambaye Zekewos, originally from Ethiopia, told how pastors when he was a boy would speak of all the abundance of water that will be in Heaven.  Ambaye lived through the famine caused by severe drought in the 80's in Ethiopia, and his relationship with Jesus has lead him around the Africa and Southwest Asia to provide community development skills in Jesus' name.  He now lives in Liberia, Isaac's dad's home country, and oversees community developments initiatives.  Isaac was thrilled to see film of Liberia, still trying to recover from years of civil war.  It's a nation we long to visit to see where Dave was raised, but we haven't felt safe enough to plan a trip there yet.  To see how communities are changing and growing economically simply because of the power of Jesus bringing clean water is utterly fantastic.  Ambaye really opened my flood works when he compared the pastors' teachings of his childhood to those of us sitting in the ballroom.  He said he felt like he was looking out last night and seeing a piece of what Heaven will be like.  I couldn't accept that at first.  Here were 1400 people in beautiful clothing eating a delicious three course meal, all with warm beds to return to at the end of evening.  Except for the occasional hurricane, few if any of us have had to worry about clean water.  And yet, Ambaye overlooked the abundance in the room and never even mentioned it.  He said that it's because of what we have given that this work is able to continue and change lives in Central America, Asia, and Africa.  His words challenged Isaac and me even more to continue doing good every day in the name of Jesus.  We're no different from the world if our good isn't in His Name.

Geoffrey Richter and his wife and children are Americans living in Burkina Faso working for Living Water.  We heard stories of how entire communities used to believe that the swollen bellies of their children were caused by witchcraft.  Medicine men and woman would cut the bellies of little children with razor blades and say chants in hopes of casting out the evil in their tummies.  Little did they know that it was parasites from river water causing the children to be sick.  When clean water arrived through Living Water, the children recovered.  A few people became believers due to the work of the Living Water team members.  Before long, more and more people were turning their backs on witchcraft and following Jesus.  This past Easter, over 1000 people were baptized in the river.  Now, the river is used for baptisms and the animals, not for drinking.  How beautiful is our God!

Two little girls, sisters name Isabelle and Katherine, who have raised about $200,000 for Living Water by selling origami .  They named their project Paper for Water and sell origami ornaments at events around Texas.  Don't ever let anyone tell a child they are too young to be the hands and feet of Jesus!

We realized at one point in the evening that Ted Cruz, one of our senators, was sitting at the table next to us.  His back was to us, but he turned his head for a moment during one of the stories, and his eyes were as puffy as mine.  That's the kind of person I want in my government-someone moved enough by the work of Jesus to be a little red eyed in public.  He's also on Living Water's Board of Reference.  Just, wow.

After the evening's events were over, we went down to a small room off one of the restaurants with my friend's family members and several board members.  As we sat and heard more stories of how God is at work from Mike, the CEO and President of Living Water, I fell more deeply in love with the passion of the people who simply want to see the basics of life accessible to all people and who want to see this done in the name of Jesus.  And really, it takes organizations like this, extensions of the Church, for this to happen.  Governments can't do it.  They were never even called to do it.  But, as redeemed sons and daughters of the Most High King, we are.

Y'all, this is real life.  This is the goodness of Jesus.  This is what purpose is about. In that spirit, I'm giving away a $10 giftcard that goes back to Living Water as a donation to them.  You'll have the opportunity to send your $10 to the country of your choice (that they partner with, of course!), and see how your $10 impacts lives.  It seems so little, but I promise it's huge.  I pray that this will start a fire in your heart for continuing to empower others in the name of Jesus.  Enter below for your chance to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

1 comment:

Christie said...

Totally new-learning a ton!

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