Three years ago I jumped in on a trip to El Salvador with a group made up of mostly Californians. It was great and I was deeply touched. Still am. I needed that trip for me. Our church had just come off a very trying time. I needed time to get away, to not be The Leader. I needed to be the guy in the back of the bus who was told what to do and when to do it. As pastor, I came back and shared my experience and people saw how deeply I was moved by the whole thing. Some wanted to go with me. And even though them going meant that I had to step back in a leadership position, I agreed.
We went to Honduras for my second trip. This time with church members in tow. They were moved. We shared with our church when we got back. The congregation saw how they too were deeply moved. That got people in our church motivated.
This past summer we did two fundraising efforts for the purpose of sponsoring a well. We held a water walk and kept a water bucket out for people to put in their pocket change. We called the pocket change thing "Change for Change." We had it out for two months and got over $4,000. Our congregation had become invested. The water walk was also a huge success.
For 2016, our church was able to sponsor two wells and sent two teams to put the wells in place. Last night our two teams shared with the church. I wish you could have heard the testimonies. I am still a little teary! What was supposed to last an hour lasted an hour and a half, with people still lingering after to ask questions and to thank our team members for going. I don't know what time people finally left the church.
You see, I am a pastor. I don't just appreciate it when people have an encounter with Jesus, that is my call. I live for that. He is The Difference Maker in me and I want others to experience the difference He makes. That is what gets me up out of bed in the morning and keeps me up at night. I want people to have an encounter with Jesus.
Living Water International has provided an opportunity for that kind of an encounter with me personally. And for that I am eternally grateful. But as a pastor... man. I'm glad I am writing this because I don't think I could get this out without crying if I was speaking. As a pastor I'm telling you that our Lord is using Living Water to change people's lives - not only in the places where we put wells, but also in the lives of the people that go - in the people from First Baptist Church of Pontotoc, Mississippi that go.
Part of the aftershocks of these trips has been the people that have expressed interest in going. Some that have drifted away from our congregation are coming back.
So, with a wish that this could be said with fireworks going off in the background and the theme song from "Titanic" blaring loudly, thank you. Thank you, Living Water International.