by Peter Swann
It was a terribly hot day in South Sudan, and I was thirsty. So was Shauna, and the rest of our village. In fact, our thirst paled in comparison to theirs, because we at least had some water. It was bee-ridden by that point, with the bees flocking to the only water they could find, but we at least had water.
The village at large was suffering. Both water wells were broken and the situation was scary. People couldn’t drink, but also couldn’t cook. The pace of life was slowing down as strength was leaving and depression was settling in.
I remember trying to share my faith during those dark days. I walked to a neighbor’s home and began to share Bible stories, hoping to see him be receptive to Christ. Yet the whole time he seemed distracted, clearly uncomfortable. Finally he said, “Peter, I want to listen, but I’m just so hungry and thirsty and hurting. I just can’t physically listen well right now.”
The encounter was one of the most profound of my witnessing experiences. I saw clearly that day the importance of loving people well. It’s not just the words themselves that convey the gospel… it’s the lifestyle with it.
Yet the experience also revealed another deep truth: that we can’t do without water. We may take it for granted, but only while we have it. When we lose it, everything shuts down. None of us reflect on how much we need it until we’re at risk of never having it again.
The Living Water is the same. In John 4, as Jesus met a woman at a well, he spoke with her about the depth of her need. He explained how He was the Living Water, capable of meeting her deepest need. He alone was worthy, and He alone was able.
When our village finally got water that day, a great cheer erupted around the well! Water is life in South Sudan, and life had just returned to the village. I long for similar cheers all around our lives… cheers from those who through us, hear and receive the Living Water.
People around us are thirsty, looking for what will best quench their thirst. Only Jesus is worthy, and only He is able. May our Lord powerfully make us reservoirs of His grace, boldly dispensing it through us, and granting to countless ones around us the Living Water of eternal life.