TO THE READER:
Thank you for being a faithful partner, and using your voice for the voiceless! Your partnership is truly making a difference in Asia. I pray that this story will bless and encourage you as you read how God transformed a broken family through the gift of fresh water. The ministry of Gospel for Asia is about changing lives — both for this life and for eternity, and Jesus Wells are simply one way to do that. As people receive the clean water they so desperately need, it opens the door to share about the source of Living Water, the One who is the reason for the well. As you read this story, consider getting involved by praying, giving or starting a MyGFA campaign.
DESPERATE FOR MORE THAN CLEAN WATER
Suprita had to trek through the rocky terrain to get water for her family. But there would be no sweet relief when she and her family drank it. The stagnant pond she drew from was full of mud, discarded bodies of dead animals and even human waste. Suprita had no alternative — she risked the possibility of stomach pain and sickness every day because this was the only water available for miles. And this was only the beginning of her problems.
DRUNKEN HUSBAND BEATS WIFE, CHILDREN
Suprita lived under the constant threat of being beaten by her alcoholic husband Tarosh. Night after night, he came home from his job as a rickshaw driver completely drunk, and harshly mistreated her and her children. None of them could bear the pain and fear much longer.
Suprita knew something had to be done to solve Tarosh’s drinking problem. She begged her gods and goddesses to help her in the hopeless situation she and her family were in, but it did not seem that prayers alone would bring peace to her family. Tarosh continued to drink and hurt Suprita emotionally and physically.
WITCHCRAFT, SORCERY DO NOT SOLVE PROBLEMS
Something more drastic would have to take place if Tarosh was ever going to leave behind his destructive behavior. Suprita decided she would take matters into her own hands by learning the secrets of witchcraft and the art of sorcery. She offered the bodies of a slain hen and goat as sacrifices. In her desperation, she went to sorcerers and began to call on the spirits of the dead, hoping they would come to her aid. In spite of her dedicated efforts, however, her husband did not change.
JESUS WELL BRINGS RELIEF
In the midst of her struggles with Tarosh, Suprita still had the daily needs of her family to meet. At least one of her burdens was lifted when a Gospel for Asia pastor named Makrand had a well installed in their village. It was a welcome sight and a relief to the villagers. No more would they have to worry about stomachaches, illnesses or death because of the contaminated water they had been consuming so regularly.
Something as simple as being able to bathe in fresh water dramatically changed the way the men and women of the village lived. “My children were going to school without taking baths, and my husband went to work without a bath as well,” Suprita recalled. “We were not able to maintain proper cleanliness due to water scarcity, but after this Jesus Well was installed in our village, my children could take baths every day and go to school clean.”
One day at the well, Suprita ran into Pastor Makrand. As she drew the water she needed, the two began talking about life in general, and Pastor Makrand eventually shared about God’s love.
As the conversation continued, Suprita opened up and found herself sharing even the most painful things about her life with the pastor. While she poured out her heart to Makrand, he listened intently and offered to visit Suprita at her home.
Not wasting any time, Pastor Makrand and his wife stopped by Suprita’s house the very next day. Suprita was glad to see her new friends and welcomed them into her home. The couple listened as Suprita thanked the pastor for having the well installed in her community, and continued to share about the turmoil in her life. Pastor Makrand told Suprita that Jesus is the only One who could bring the true joy and peace she was seeking. Hearing about Jesus from Makrand stirred Suprita’s heart and made her eager to learn more.
FAMILY FINDS HOPE
Pastor Makrand continued to regularly visit Suprita and talk about the Good News with her. It all began making sense to Suprita, and one day she fully trusted in the Lord for salvation. Suprita had a new heart for Christ, and a new determination to pray for Tarosh. Although his habits had not changed, Suprita did not stop growing in the Lord and praying for her husband.
Pastor Makrand and his wife prayed with Suprita and her children once a week, and Tarosh always left the house during that time. But the group of praying friends persevered, and slowly Tarosh began to change. His bad habits became less frequent, and he would sometimes attend the prayer meetings in his home and listen to God’s Word being read or talked about.
THANKFUL FOR A NEW LIFE
Eventually, Tarosh’s life changed from the inside out. He, too, trusted in Jesus and began living for Him.
The home that was once filled with scared children, a desperate and weary wife and a careless and violent husband is drastically different today. Tarosh cares very deeply for his family now, and they all worship God together with several other families from the community whose hearts have also been transformed by the Good News.
Suprita did not expect to find more than fresh water at the well the day she met Pastor Makrand. She never would have guessed that a conversation at a well would forever change her life and the lives of her children, her husband and other people in her village.
“I am lucky to get good water from the well,” Suprita says. “Above all, I am so happy that I and my family came to know the Lord through this means.”
Jesus Wells not only give entire communities the clean water that is so desperately needed, but they also provide opportunities for missionaries to build relationships and share the hope of Christ with the people in the village.
St. Francis, Pray for Us
by Shane Claiborne 10-03-2011 02:17 pm
Today (Oct. 4) Christians around the world celebrate the life of St. Francis of Assisi, one of the bright lights of the church and one of the most venerated religious figures in history.
The life and witness of Francis is as relevant to the world we live in today as it was 900 years ago. He was one of the first critics of capitalism, one of the earliest Christian environmentalists, a sassy reformer of the church, and one of the classic conscientious objectors to war.
Francis was the son of a wealthy cloth merchant, born into a society where the gap between rich and the poor was increasingly unacceptable. It was an age of religious crusades, where Christians and Muslims were killing each other in the name of God. Sound familiar?
Francis did something simple and wonderful. He read the gospel where Jesus says, “Sell your possessions and give the money to the poor,” “consider the lilies and the sparrows and do not worry about tomorrow,” “Love your enemies” — and he decided to live as if Jesus meant the stuff he said.
Francis turned his back on the materialism and militarism of his world, and said yes to Jesus.
One of the quotes attributed to Francis is a simple and poignant critique of our world, just as it was to his: “The more stuff we have the more clubs we need to protect it.” It does make you wonder if he’d be on Wall Street protesting today.
With a childlike innocence, Francis literally stripped off his clothing and walked out of Assisi butt-naked to live like the lilies and the sparrows (and to become the patron saint for the flower children). He lived close to the earth, and like Jesus became a friend of the birds and creatures, whom he fondly called “brother” and “sister.” In light of that, many Christians brought their pets to church yesterday for a special all-pets-allowed service, an annual tribute to Francis. And many a bird-bath dons his iconic image.
But it’s easy to turn our best movements into monuments. His life was a powerful critique of the demons of his day, which are very similar to the demons of ours.
One of my favorite stories of Francis was when he decided to meet with the Muslim sultan during the Fifth Crusade. It was a tumultuous time. War had become a necessity and a habit, and was baptized by much of the church. Francis was sent off as a soldier, but he could not reconcile the violence of war with the grace of Christ. So he got off his warhorse, and put down the sword.
Francis pleaded with the military commander, Cardinal Pelagius, to end the fighting. Pelagius refused. Instead, Pelagius broke off all diplomatic relations with the sultan of Egypt, Malik al-Kamil. The sultan in turn decreed that anyone who brought him the head of a Christian would be rewarded with a Byzantine gold piece.
Francis, however, pursued his vision in steadfast faith, surmounting all dangers in a journey to see the sultan. He traveled through fierce fighting in Syria and inevitably was met by soldiers of the sultan’s army, who beat him savagely and put him in chains, dragging him before the sultan himself. Francis spoke to the sultan of God’s love and grace. The sultan listened intensely and was so moved that he offered Francis gifts and money. Our saint of course had no desire for the money, but he gladly accepted one gift — an ivory horn used in the Muslim call to prayer. He took it back with him and used it to summon his own community for prayer. Both Francis and the sultan were transformed by that encounter.
In an age of religious extremists, Francis offers us an alternative. We have seen religious extremists of all stripes — Jewish, Muslim, Christian — distort the best that our faiths have to offer and hijack the headlines with stories of hatred. We’ve seen Christian extremists burn the Quran, blow up abortion clinics, bless bombs, baptize Wall Street, and hold signs that say “God hates fags.” But Francis invites us to become extremists for grace, extremists for love.
Although the Church is prone to forget his witness or to make a monument of his movement, there is a whole world remembering his radical witness today. We celebrate his critique of an economy that left masses of people in poverty so that a handful of people can live as they wish. We rejoice in his love for the earth as we work to end the ravaging of our world. We remember his witness that there is a better way to bring peace than with a sword. And we remember the whisper he heard from God, “Repair the church, which is in ruins.”
Let us do a little something today as a tribute to old Francis. Maybe we can get rid of some of our stuff or spend some time with a homeless person. Maybe we can laugh at advertisements today that try to convince us that happiness can be purchased. Maybe we can hang out in the woods and spend some time with the lilies and sparrows. Maybe we can take an “enemy” out for dinner.
These are the words of the famous prayer of Francis. May they inspire us to become better people and to build a better world:
“Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.”
Shane Claiborne is a Red Letter Christian and a founding partner of The Simple Way community, a radical faith community that lives among and serves the homeless in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia. He is the co-author, with Chris Haw, of Jesus for President.