Running Water: A Gift of Love

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Fresh water and indoor plumbing are common in most of our lives. We take for granted the fact that most of us can walk into the kitchen and get a glass of water. Yet, only 40 feet from where I am writing this letter lives a family who, for the past 18 months has not had running water in their kitchen and only a small amount in their bathroom. What’s the issue? It’s compounded and complex. Typically, it’s not simply one thing or another, its multiple issues. Let me share about our neighbor. 

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to preach on “the art of neighboring.” It’s a topic close to my heart, and a way in which my family and I have been living our lives for the past 15 years. We serve our neighbors in love. We do not go out to “fix” them, we simply build relationships and love them. We do this because the Bible is clear about our call to LOVE OUR NEIGHBOR. This can take many forms. It can be bringing fresh baked cookies to our neighbor’s home. It can look like creating afterschool programs for our neighborhood children, and lifeskills workshops for their parents.  It can be loading up our truck and helping a family move to a new home, or riding shotgun for a neighbor who’s just learning to drive. We LOVE, loving our neighbors! 

For the past 8 years we have lived, worked and invested deeply in our community. In Galveston, 27% of the population lives at or below the poverty line. Just over 1 in 4 people living in our city are below the poverty line. I bring up our poverty stats, not to shame or bring a bad light to the city we love. It is about owning our issues and doing something about it. 

I share all of the above to tell you about one of our neighbors. A few years back this neighbor was walking home from the store, and was shot three times. He walked himself home to get his family to call for emergency help. After having bullets removed and coming out of surgery, doctors diagnosed him with stage 4 liver cancer. For the past several years he has been living on borrowed time. Not knowing what the future holds, he simply lives to the best of his ability. Meanwhile,  GUM has been renovating our new offices and we’ve had the pleasure of meeting this neighbor and his family. After hearing their story we began praying for them. The cancer that was once diagnosed as an inoperable, and most likely fatal, has now been deemed a miracle by his doctor and will he’ll be strong enough for an operation in the coming months! Our neighbor is not completely in the clear, and the word remission has yet to be used. Yet, we are hopeful. 

During all of our interactions with this neighbor, we never heard a complaint. Not once did we hear a victimized story. However, we began to ask some questions. Noticing some work that could be done to the exterior of their home, we asked how GUM might help. Our neighbor shared the story of how his family purchased the house immediately after Hurricane Ike; buying the house and making immediate repairs maxed-out their finances. The family made do to the best of their ability and made improvements when they could. Once the cancer diagnoses and the inability to work became a factor, upkeep on the home fell behind. It became clear that the family is dealing with multiple issues, and they simply do not have the means to tackle them all. I’m pleased to share that we worked to fix the plumbing (there is still more to do) and loved on this family in a very tangible way. We do not simply pray and move on. We ENGAGE!

This is why I share so much about loving our neighbors and how important that love really is. If we do not know our neighbors, we do not truly know how to love them. We cannot stand in the gap with them and share their burdens. We cannot  encourage them and be encouraged by them. By knowing our neighbors, we come to understand that no matter what a house looks like on the outside, there is a family inside that considers it home. It’s only through building relationships that we learn about the family behind those broken walls. 

I share this personal story because this is why GUM asks for financial support. If you haven’t already, please consider making a donation, or becoming a monthly supporter.  Your financial commitment allows us to give a neighboring family desperately needed (and much appreciated) running water. Your support helps us love and care for our community in so many ways. 

Before heading into your kitchen for a cold glass of water, please take a moment to consider making a financial commitment to GUM. Our neighborhood thanks you.