And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward." – Matthew 10:42
Recently, I had the chance to travel with 11 others from our SPC family to the country of Eswatini, a small, mostly forgotten country in the horn of Africa. Eswatini is a beautiful, mountainous, sleepy, peaceful country of roughly a million people in a land mass the size of the state of Massachusetts. It is filled with fields of maze and sugar cane, huts, roadside stands selling fruits and meats, and children walking everywhere. It is a country that doesn’t command too much attention. In fact, you might not think much of it at all.
Until you hear about the challenges they face. Close to 1/3 of the nation is infected with HIV/AIDS. 1/3 of girls will be sexually assaulted by the age of 18. In Mahlalini (the community we were visiting), only 1/3 of the inhabitants have access to clean water. These are warning sirens screaming out a cry for help from beyond. When you hear of their challenges it feels like a 4-alarm fire, calling out to the world for help.
And gratefully, that is where our church family through World Vision is making a difference.
One of the things that was impressed upon us is how integrated these concerns are for the people of Eswatini. Their low education rate comes in part from the long walks to water their children take a few times a day (the world average is 6k per walk), thus taking away precious time for study. The high sexual assault statistics is also caused in part by the long walks to water, often down isolated paths to distant rivers and streams, where predators lurk. Poor healthcare stems from dirty water like the kind we saw, robbing bodies of much needed health.
In fact, as we saw World Vision’s work, it was amazing how many of the problems stem from having access to clean water close to home. If the water is clean, the sickness rates subside. If water is close, the long and dangerous walks to the stream and rivers are eliminated. We’ve all heard it said that “Water is life”. I would add to that “Access to clean water is life” works, too.
Jesus says that when you give a cup of cold water to a child, you are living into the reward of God. Simple and profound.
And that is what we saw World Vision doing in Eswatini with the resources the people from SPC generously give. World Visions has plans in the next 5 years to encompass the entire Mahlalini community with access to clean water. On the wall in their office is this photo of the miles and miles of pipe they are laying with the government’s help which will completely revolutionize life there. I can’t wait to head back to Eswatini in the future and see the lives that are affected. I would bet that all of the indicators of wholeness—lower HIV/AIDS rates, increased test scores in schools, less instances of sexual violence—will improve drastically.
And we get to be a part of that. What an honor and privilege.
On behalf of the Eswatini mission team, thank you for your prayers and support. We are forever grateful. And on behalf of the children and adults in Mahlalini, Eswatini, thank you for being so generous. Your gifts are literally being translated into cups of cold water, as Jesus invites us to give.