“No country will ever be the same after a natural disaster or a civil war, but the best way to contribute to the restoration process is when communities from near and far come together in solidarity as a global family, protecting and loving the brothers and sisters they have never met.” —Katie Bergman
Coming together is the best way to move forward. At the same time, restoration, reconciliation, and compassionate work can feel daunting. We can easily submit to the temptation of believing we don’t know where to start or how to make an impact. I live in this tension daily, and I’ve watched teenagers in my ministry ask similar questions: “How can I help when my life feels small, when my life is complicated, when my life is full of its own problems?”
“How can I help when my life feels small, when my life is complicated, when my life is full of its own problems?”
We created The Justice Movement to give teenagers, young adults, and families simple ways to make an impact. We believe in the possibility of a global family, but we also understand that it starts with a belief that the little we have to give is helpful to the whole. The Justice Movement challenges churches and youth groups to drink water to become advocates for clean water and to raise funds for global water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) programs. It’s a simple start that can make a big impact.
In August 2016 I journeyed eight hours by van across the country of Sri Lanka with young adults from that country as well as from Australia, the United States, and India. I had just spent a year of my life talking to teenagers, churches, and youth leaders about the ripple their lives could make collectively, about what it might look like to walk as one global family. During our visit with the beautiful people of Sri Lanka I saw again the possibility of a global family being able to do more together than any of us could do alone.
When civil war, floods, droughts, and dangers untold come to a village, they come to us all—because, even though we’ve never met, we are family. You are my brother, my sister, my people—created in the image of God, created to know love and live love.
When civil war, floods, droughts, and dangers untold come to a village, they come to us all———because, even though we’ve never met, we are family.
Our team began to ask the questions I hope every Christ follower will eventually begin to ask:
• What if everyone helped a little?
• What if your brother and sister were the people living in your house and also people you may never meet?
• What if the impact of your life could be multiplied with every small “yes” whispered over oceans, fields, and deserts?
• What if your “yes” could be the key to unlocking someone else’s prison?
I’ve had the unique opportunity to visit and learn from churches all over the world. I’ve seen how they are different, but what I’ve seen more often is how they are alike.
They are full of love. They want to be Jesus on earth. They are looking for ways to serve.
And when love on earth begins to serve, we get to see the kingdom of God born in a global family that works to meet each other’s needs slowly, steadily, and beautifully.
Maybe you’ve noticed this for yourself as you’ve witnessed the love and generosity of others you’ve never met? Hands of love, voices of concern, acts of support when needs surface in the world?
Life in the United States changed forever on September 11, 2001.
Civil war in Syria is still changing that country and the world as we know it.
Entire countries tremble in the wake of a tsunami’s devastation.
The knowledge that child slaves continue to do inhumane and unjust work floods us with grief.
Our mourning multiplies when children lose entire childhoods to the sex industry.
Wonder and worry fill our minds when we aren’t sure what to do. We know that people, communities, and cultures are forever changed by these things. The break in the story occurs when the path to restoration is illuminated by you, by us, in Christ. Even when our world begs us to be selfish, our lives can speak and work for restoration in the way we live and choose the way of love together.
Even when our world begs us to be selfish, our lives can speak and work for restoration in the way we live and choose the way of love together.
Tell your story. Become brave enough to share our own real story with others. Sharing our stories opens a door of hospitality and says to others, “You don’t have to be perfect. You don’t have to let what has happened to you define who you are.” If you need some help getting started, consider taking the Justice Movement’s Just Water challenge. If someone notices that you aren’t drinking soda or coffee and asks you about your choice, you’ll have the opportunity to tell your own story as well as someone else’s.
Listen to the stories of others. Become brave enough to listen to a story that could feel shocking or difficult, knowing that restoration begins to take shape when we walk in solidarity with others, when we feel and suffer together. The needs of others can feel overwhelming. That’s why we started learning about and educating others about the water needs in the world. Water is something all of us need. Water is something nobody can live without. So we’ve created resources that make learning easier, and we freely share them with you.
Choose a path to walk. We see all kinds of needs all day, every day. Sometimes our hearts speak to us about what we see around us, prompting us to say, “Yes, brother, yes, sister—I will help you meet your need. I will be an advocate for it. I will feel as if the burden you carry is my own. I will honor your story and have hope for your future. I will not give up on you. I will do whatever it takes to show you that I love you as part of my global family.” When our hearts speak to us in that way, then we know that Jesus has taken up residence in our lives.
Jesus proclaimed that he came to set people free. Jesus also knew that a freed person would want to free other people. Free people, free people. That’s God’s plan for the global family.
Jesus proclaimed that he came to set people free. Jesus also knew that a freed person would want to free other people.
When I talk to people who have decided to raise funds through Just Water, I realize that they have begun to see those they are helping as family. It has become personal. They feel for them and become advocates for them and are willing to make sacrifices on their behalf. People do this in different ways around the world, from hosting fundraising races to making Italian dinners to asking friends and family for support. When we acknowledge that Jesus gave everything to help us, we realize that we all have something to give.
What story has God been begging you to hear? Have you told your own story? Which path will you choose for your brother? Your sister? For yourself?