A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of gathering at Camp Hopewell, Oxford, MS, with a host of water saints, new and returning, to be a part of Living Waters for the World’s (LWW) sixty-first Clean Water U (CWU). It’s an intense yet invigorating experience in which students in three different disciplines learn how to work together to share the God-intended gift of safe/clean water with communities in need in countries across the world.
At Clean Water U in April, Todd Jenkins holds a sign showing one of the more common reasons people say they get involved with Living Waters for the World.
A group of CWU students discuss LWW's Guatemala network
A CWU student gives a presentation on the role of Ozone in the disinfection of contaminated water
As is the case with all who come together for such an event, we bring with us, not only the stories of our past and the circumstances of our present, but also the plans and dreams for our future. For me, that includes preparations and expectations for the studies and worship services for which I have leadership responsibility in the near future. One of those responsibilities includes teaching the Horizons Presbyterian Women Bible Study for one of the circles of the church where I serve as interim pastor. The name of this year’s Bible Study is, “God’s Promise: I Am with You.” The April PW Bible Study lesson (#8) is: God with Us as the Holy Spirit. The author, Amy Poling Sutherlun, says that last month’s lesson, God with Us as Emmanuel, gave a small group of people in a particular time and place the opportunity to experience God-in-the-flesh. Now, in this lesson (based on John 14:1-31), as the person of Jesus prepares to physically depart from the disciples and this world, the promise given is that the shift will be from God with them as the person of Jesus, to God with and in us all, forevermore, as the power of the Holy Spirit — the Greek word for this manifestation transliterates as paraclete, which literally means “to walk beside.” As I experienced another week of Clean Water U, and initiated a whole host of new water saint friendships, it occurred to me that the development of Clean Water U, which had its first class in 2004, was a Pentecost moment for Living Waters for the World. In the early days, LWW had a central, leadership core, whose capacity to enact their mission of sharing clean water was limited by their own human capacity. The advent of Clean Water U took LWW to a place where the spirit of water saints could be exponentially spread far and wide across the world. And here we are, 15 years later, still paracleting, as we walk beside one another along the road toward the dream and, hopefully the reality, of a world where waterborne illness becomes an increasingly distant memory.
CWU students and instructors toast with clean water at the water system celebration
If you haven’t jumped into the water with LWW yet, I encourage you to do so. We will walk beside you, and we will pray, with you, that the Holy Spirit paracletes us all along the way.