Many times churches ask for a newsletter from their missionary partners but did you realize that we enjoy your newsletters, too? We like reading about happenings going on at home and who is doing what and when. Point in fact, Tim and I recently received the monthly newsletter from one of churches with which we have a missionary partnership and in it was an article about the youth of the church walking in the CROP Walk.
All jesting aside, Tim and I have come to realize the genuine value of such efforts as we now live and work in many of the communities that benefit from those willing to “put feet to their faith.” In our travels throughout Asia and the Pacific, we routinely see the outcome of programs that are supported by funds generated through special events such as the CROP Walk and let us tell you, “They really do help to transform communities!”
Even before we came overseas, our hearts were moved by stories from friends living in developing countries and how donations truly did make a difference. Our colleagues shared how these funds were used to build wells or windmills for irrigation purposes; for buying livestock such as chickens and goats and for fisheries to help provide a source of income as well as food for personal use; and for buying seeds that would allow farmers to feed not only their families but also families in surrounding villages.
Perhaps one of the most poignant stories we heard came from a friend who worked with Habitat for Humanity in Haiti a number of years ago. The power of “Mary’s” story was not so much about a change in the community in which she lived and worked as it was a story about her own transformation. Mary told us that she woke up one morning feeling out of sorts as she thought about her family in the States and about all the amenities she was missing. She grumbled as she got ready for the day and even muttered under her breath as she left for the build site, “It would be nice to just have a simple, hot bath!”
As circumstances would have it, the woman for whom Mary was helping to build a house heard her complaints, including the comment about wanting a hot bath, and decided to do something about it. The Habitat homeowner began what would be a 6-hour long project to supply a bath for Mary. The woman carried her buckets on her head as she walked 1½ hours to the river to draw water and 1½ hours back again. She poured the water into a metal tub at Mary’s house and took off again for the river for another 3-hour round-trip trek.
That evening Mary came home to find in her kitchen area a large basin filled with hot water for her bath. Dumbfounded, she asked, “What is this?” The Haitian woman said, “I know how much Americans like their hot baths and I wanted to do something for you because you are helping me to have a house.”
Needless to say, Mary was moved to tears, embarrassed by her thoughtless comments and humbled beyond words by this generous act. She told me that she could never again look at water and take it for granted.
Today, blessedly, that community has a well that was dug with funds provided by donations given to an international aid agency. No longer do women or children have to walk miles carrying heavy containers on their heads and shoulders and suffer the consequences of such backbreaking work.
So, if you ever wonder if your efforts are really worthwhile, please remember the story about a woman walking 6-hours to have enough water to give the gift of a bath to a friend. Whether your commitment involves walking to raise money for a special need; donating blood to your local Red Cross; collecting blankets and water for disaster response needs; a campaign to get donations of food items for a food pantry or local social aid center; or even flying halfway around the world to help build a house for a family that lost everything they owned in an earthquake…we pray that you will know that someone’s life was forever changed by your willingness to take the first step.
“And this is love: that we walk in obedience to God’s commands. As you have heard from the beginning, God’s command is that you walk in love. 2 John : 6
Tim and Diane Fonderlin
Global Ministries Missionaries
Tim and Diane Fonderlin are serving as missionaries in Singapore. Tim and Diane both work on building relationships with the local churches in Asia Pacific and the USA.