Thinking about Mission

 The woman at the well.

 

 

Yesterday, April 13, 2012, I was privileged to be at a well and pump installation ceremony at a Malawian village, a million miles from nowhere, in world terms, where we were part of a ceremony to celebrate the life of Judy Moore fromIreland. For me it was, what we call, a Sacramental moment in my life

Maybe Judy had little in common with the women in Phwokabandera village in life, but for an hour yesterday we were all one. Like the villagers, I never knew Judy, but I feel maybe she took a little peek at what was going on and was somehow with us.

The story of the Samaritan woman at the well is special to me. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.”  The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman ofSamaria?” knowing that Jews had as little in common with Samaritans, maybe as little as Judy had in common with the Malawian women who gathered for clean drinking water. that her death inspired.

The story speaks of living water.  We understand that Jesus was speaking in a symbolic way, referring to the spiritual nourishment, but being human as well, I feel that He fully recognised the physical value of clean water. So, in a very real sense, caring for both the spiritual and the physical health of the people of the world is the duty of every Christian.

We honoured Judy and also thought of the enormous water crisis that faces our world and threatens the lives of millions. It feels a little strange to say that our work yesterday was not just about a hole in the ground and pipes and valves, it was really about people, real people, every single one of them looking on, working and taking part. It was also about the impact that this water will have on their lives. It’s a miracle, a burden relieved. Much illness banished and opportunities to be taken. Imagine the thought of being cured of illness, being able, as little girls, to go to school every day, as a mother to look at your precious little ones without fearing the real killer, diarrhea. Imagine even saving one precious life. Illness and death of children are a constant reality here in Malawi, due primarily to waterborne disease, which is the number one cause of death for children under 5 years of age!

We thank Maria Corrigan, Judy’s close friend for giving us the opportunity to turn the unbearable heartache of her death into something as life giving as a pump and well in Phwokabandera

We pray that all the children who prayed, sang and celebrated with us will reach their full potential unaffected by totally avoidable illness due to waterborne disease. This is a real scandal in our world of technological advance and supposed enlightenment.

I have spoken of Christian values, because of the Easter season and the integral part water plays in our ceremonies, but this of course is a human problem and affects all people of the world, with or without religious beliefs. Our mission in Malawi is to people of all faiths and none. I pray here for all those who offer a cup of clean water to those who need it.

Just a few years ago, hundreds of people lost their lives as the tsunami washed over vast areas, devastating all in its path and leaving contaminated water in its wake. The scale of death was frightening and the response remarkable mainly because the deaths were sudden, visible and all over the news. Since then, millions of people have died from easily preventable water-related diseases in developing countries around the world.  But the world hardly noted their deaths, because they have died slowly, silently, far away, insignificant to the bigger World and unworthy of any media coverage.

Jesus asked the Samaritan woman to give to Him a drink of very real water to satisfy his very real physical thirst.  Somewhere else we read “Lord, when did we see you thirsty and give you something to drink?”  Jesus is living today – living among the poor in remote areas of Malawi and Zambia where we work…and through their voices, Jesus says to us, “Give me a drink.”  A week after Good Friday we remember that His last words on the cross were that, he was thirsty.

We believe that the Spirit of all our God’s is working to solve the world water crisis.  Working through agencies bringing clean water in many places, working in a practical way, using skin and bone people, working toward a world where all God’s children will be healthy, educated and lead more fruitful lives.

I am not one for labels and our family in Ireland will have a giggle at me doing the holy bit, but, I suppose, like it or not, we have become part of this mission now. We didn’t plan it but it has happened, and we hope, like the woman from Samaria that He may wash away a few of our sins as well.

We thank God for Judy’s life and we pray for her family who mourn her.

We thank Maria for her thoughtfulness and we thank all those, women at the well who will think of her every day, as they carry her clean, safe drinking water of life.

Yesterday was a GOOD NEWS DAY; thank God, Allah and all those who guide our paths.

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