One Friday afternoon, as I was putting the final touches on my food preparation, I noticed a number of people from all around the mission neighborhood coming into our yard. Though I had lived around these people for nine years, I did not know all of them. Some of them had never been on the premises before. Some of them had been around when the church occasionally distributed food and clothing. I had met some of them in their homes when, as a member of a prayer band, I went to pray with them. The rest I had only seen from a distance.
The church and the mission house are located on one of the worst streets in the area; crime and poverty are rampant. Pensioners reside in two-roomed houses. Unfortunately, they live with their children and grandchildren, who, in many cases, are a constant threat to the community. It is not unusual to find 8-10 souls living in these two-roomed houses.
Time and again, an old woman or a girl is raped or even killed. Fighting is the order of the weekend, especially during a weekend that coincides with a month's end. Also, it is common to find groups of people sitting around drinking beer as early as 6:00 a.m. Such are the people who are my neighbors.
As I looked out my window, I wondered why so many people were coming to my yard. I soon found out that they needed water. A water pipe in the neighborhood had burst, causing water to flow freely in the streets and cutting the supply from homes in our neighborhood. Somehow our mission premises were not affected much. The pressure had decreased, but the water was still available from all the taps around the premises.
I do not know how my neighbors discovered that our taps still had running water. All I saw was a number of people coming onto the premises with all sorts of containers and buckets of various sizes and shapes. Only one person asked if she could draw water; the rest just fell into line and formed queues.
I watched all this in silent amazement. Instead of getting annoyed at the obvious facts of invasion of my privacy, an increased water bill for the month, and security, I thought of how Jesus would have reacted in this situation. His disciples probably would have said, "Master! These people came with their containers to be filled with water, and do you know that there is no water around because a pipe has burst in the neighborhood? You know this is already a weekend, and the city council will not work on this problem until Monday afternoon. You know how slow they respond to problems. You also know what this will do to the water bill if everyone is allowed to fill their containers; besides, it is not safe, and also the Sabbath hours will soon be upon us. Should we be without water while they take all the water we will need? Bid them go back!"
And Jesus, filled with compassion, would have looked at all the people gathered to draw water and then would have turned to His disciples and said, "Leave them alone. Why do you worry about things that do not really matter? These premises are meant for such occasions. People should be able to come here and not only draw physical water, but spiritual water as well. Have you ever considered why there is no water anywhere else except here? This has been allowed as a witness to them, that they may know that God provides for His children all the time. Those who depend on God will never be disappointed—God will be their provider. Yes! Let them draw the water, that they may know the living God, who provided the water of life."
I learned a great lesson from this incident. The church of God is a place where people should come with all their problems and find relief. It should be a place of refuge from the battles of life. When everything else has failed, the church should still have its doors wide open to welcome weary souls. Sometimes though, as long-time members of the church, we stand in the doorway, not allowing others to come in and not going in ourselves.
May God help us realize that He is a God who extends His invitation to everyone, and may we reveal Him as He really is.