We’re all walking through this season of crisis. The Bible talks about bearing each other’s burdens. Said another way, that means walking a mile in someone else’s shoes. It’s first about seeing them and understanding what hurts them, which then allows our compassion to grow, ultimately making us more eager to help.
At Water Mission, we have nearly two decades of experience with providing safe water in long-term and disaster response scenarios. However, the COVID-19 pandemic is a disaster of exponential proportions, like nothing we’ve ever seen before. It has caused us to improve the very manner in which we operate. One of the strategies we’ve implemented is an Incident Command System, uniting all of our global offices (multiple sites in Africa, Latin America, Indonesia and Charleston, S.C.) through a framework that allows us to coordinate the same initiatives. This new level of communication and coordination requires us to come together like never before. We’re really stepping up our game.
While continuing to provide clean, safe water in the areas that need it the most, we’re also providing hygiene and hand-washing training — two of the most needed practices right now. As part of our community development training that goes along with every project, we teach communities about disease prevention. We line up 12 kids and pour glitter into the first child’s hands. We then have the child shake hands with the next and then the next, and at the end, they all have glitter on their hands. It’s an illustration on how the germs spread and then how handwashing can combat the spread.
Handwashing stations that we build and implement also offer opportunities to put into practice what they are learning. With so much lack of information or misinformation, we offer solutions through practical wisdom. We can help empower them by giving them the tools and resources to live as God intended them to live.
My level of empathy and compassion, and overall motivation to help others, went up exponentially when I took my first mission trip. When you put yourself in a situation and experience how others are suffering, you can identify with them on a different level. The immediate questions you’re faced with are, “Why is it like this? What is the solution and how can I be a part of it?” It’s invaluable to have firsthand experience. There’s nothing like going and seeing to enhance your desire to act.
God created us with a longing for relationships. He calls us to minister to people who are right in our midst. We saw Jesus do it; the way He touched people and empathized with them is incredible. When we think about God’s plan for salvation, we see that He identified with us on a very personal level when He became one of us and walked with us.
You may never be a refugee or experience extreme suffering, but by listening to those who have gone through or are going through such a time, you can feel the pain and hurt they do. You also can experience the sense of joy and relief they do when you are a part of their healing process.
When I’ve been asked, “What makes you leave the U.S. — the country of wealth and prosperity — to come to the slums and be with us?” I answer, “Because Jesus loves me and He loves you. He wants you to know that. It’s as basic as that.” God calls us to love Him and love people. That’s how we show our love to God — by loving His people. Serving their basic needs first then earns us the right to share our faith. That order is so important. As the saying goes, “people don’t care what you know until they know that you care.”
We’re being reminded that relationships are the key to what we do. When we’re all starving for contact and connection, we realize that we’re not people made for isolation. During the past few months, my own appreciation of people and their efforts to get involved has changed. Whether that’s healthcare workers attending to the sick, church members making meals, or others that reach out to those in need, many are stepping up. This pandemic has caused community suffering which, strangely, has led to community enrichment. If anything good can come out of this, I hope we can put one another’s needs ahead of our own moving forward.
— Scott Linebrink, former MLB pitcher
* Check out this short video to see how Water Mission is responding to the COVID-19 crisis.
Scott Linebrink is a regular contributor to The Increase, providing articles and opinions. Check out Scott’s Increase profile here.
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