In just one month (from April to May), ServeNow has provided clean water to nearly 1,200 families in 12 communities in 4 states! We will continue to visit these same families through the dry season, providing them with 40 liters (approximately 10 gallons) of water per week. We aim to expand this ministry into new villages, reaching about 2,000 families. We are encouraged to see that hearts have opened to the Good News of the Gospel, sometimes even for the first time!
For example, in one village, a man told us with tears in his eyes that he and his family are the only Christians in a predominantly Hindu village, and they are often ridiculed by their neighbors for following a “foreign god”, Jesus. However, on this day, from this family’s courtyard, the villagers are receiving clean drinking water, all of them thanking this man and his family and their pastor for bringing the ServeNow team and the love of Christ to this drought affected area. The Gospel was openly shared for the very first time in this village. The villagers are excited to see that their children are learning about this loving God from the God’s Love for You booklet; this is the very first time these children are receiving any kind of material of this nature!
In partnership with another local church (as with every ServeNow project), water is being provided to a Nomadic (gypsy) community living near the pastor’s church. It was late evening when our team arrived at this tent camp outside of the city limits. This is the only time to get the whole community together after a day’s work or begging! This is one of the poorest of the poor people group. Even in this time and age, they live in the old ways of makeshift tents, without any sanitation or drainage, cooking out in the open, day in and day out. The moment we reached this area, we were surrounded by kids and their parents and many actually approached us requesting that we immediately pray for them. I was amazed to see that the local pastor has developed such a good relationship with the community, and they are so open to hear the Gospel.
While talking to people in this community, I heard that some time back a young man from this community was literally saved from death by the prayer of a believer. Since then, they know that Jesus has power, and now they also know that Jesus loves them. In a country with more than 350 million gods, this is the first time that this community encounters a God who is loving and powerful and actually cares for them. Most people think that gypsies are either beggars, thieves, or practicing black magic and simply not good enough. But among these people, the Gospel is spreading rapidly! Several people came to us for prayer and for counsel in regard to life questions.
The children of this community also touched my heart as I see that they are bright and sharp, yet due to lack of money, educational facilities etc. they are not getting ahead in life. All in all, it was a wonderful evening, and we all felt the presence of the Lord. We are working with this pastor to coordinate a special children’s program for these kids and also exploring future possibilities to do a life skill training program for them.
We also received updates from our Water for Life distribution in the state Odisha. Here are some first-hand stories from the various villages we visited:
In one village, about 700 families live in the area. We delivered clean drinking water to both believers and non-believers. One of the people we met was Devendra, an old man who lives together with his mentally ill wife. Their only son is married and lives in another village, but he does not care for them. Devendra was very happy and thankful to receive clean drinking water.
Another village is in a coal mining area. About 300 families live here, but only 40 of these families are believers in Jesus Christ. The wells have dried up and there is an acute scarcity of drinking water. We were able to provide water to all the families in this village.
And here are some first-hand updates from the state Jharkhand, where we delivered clean water in three different locations.
In a small slum, 35 families were provided clean drinking water. Out of the 35 families, only 10 families are Christians. The local pastor told us that the distribution of clean drinking water will help the local congregation grow as this will build a good relationship with the non-Christian neighbors.
In another village about 15 kilometers from the city, about 500 families are scattered throughout the area. The few open wells have all dried up and a handful of bore-wells only draw muddy water as the water levels have gone down dramatically. One of the local pastors started a church planting ministry two years ago. He now has about 50 members in his congregation. He also runs a discipleship training program for about 15 new believers. We chose two areas in this village and provided clean drinking water to 50 families, mostly non-Christians. The pastor and some of his church members who were present were very happy and thankful to ServeNow for this valuable ministry to people in need.
In yet another remote village of about 20 kilometers from a city, one of the pastors we work with started a church planting ministry in 2006. About 22 families have come to know the Lord through this ministry during the past ten years. We distributed clean drinking water to 50 families (both believers and non-believers) in the village. The pastor was very encouraged and thanked ServeNow for considering this village for the Water for Life program. He would welcome more ministry activities from ServeNow such as our Scripture program.
***Thank you to those who gave towards clean drinking water for these brutal summer months in India. In this area, we more than doubled our budgeted goal, enabling us to serve more people than we had planned or thought we would be able to do! As you can tell from the above stories, providing for people’s physical needs, goes a long way in building trust and breaking down barriers local pastors or Christian families have faced for years. Clean drinking water opens the door to more people hearing about “Living Water” for their souls! Please continue to pray that the Gospel will be honored and spread rapidly in more villages!