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Humanitarian aid must include Jesus


As the effects of famine, natural disasters, and war continue to escalate around the globe both the U.S. government and individual Americans have generously given financial assistance to offer relief to those who need it most. And while this work is critical, providing humanitarian aid without sharing the gift of Jesus is equated to meeting a short-term need while neglecting the eternal.

U.S. President Joe Biden proposed a 2024 fiscal year budget of $70.5 billion for foreign affairs. This includes $10.5 billion for humanitarian response efforts and more than $1 billion for agriculture and food security programs. Whether this budget gets approved is still up for debate but when you combine this magnitude with the thousands of individuals who donate combined millions of dollars out of their personal earnings each year to help those in need, the impact on lives is undeniable.

For more than 10 years, I have been working to combat the global water crisis. Most people are surprised to learn that 300,000 children under the age of 5 will die this year due to a completely preventable problem — a lack of clean drinking water. The reality is that hundreds of millions around the world still don't have reliable access to clean, safe drinking water.

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I personally witnessed this in 2012 when I accompanied my then-high school daughter on a mission trip to the Brazilian Amazon. If I’m honest, I didn’t have much desire for the “missions” part of the trip but rather went to chaperone my teenage daughter while she was thousands of miles away from home. But God had other plans.

At one of our first stops on the river, a woman asked me if I was thirsty. I answered, “yes,” expecting her to hand me a bottle of water. Instead, she went inside her home, pulled out two mismatched and chipped glasses, walked over to the river, and filled them with water straight from the Amazon River. As she handed me a glass to me, I knew without a doubt there was no way I could drink this filthy, bacteria-ridden water. Even more so, I was struck that this is the water this woman drank every single day. It was at that moment I heard the Lord audibly speak to me for the first time. He said, “help them.”

That was the beginning of a new mission for me to provide clean water to those who had none. But I also knew that I couldn’t just offer them a physical solution; I needed to also offer them Jesus.

While the statistics of water death break my heart, it is even more devastating to know that many around the world will also die without ever hearing the Good News of the Gospel. When I founded The Bucket Ministry more than a decade ago, I did so with the mission to share God’s love through the gift of clean, safe, drinking water. Our organization provides under-resourced communities around the world with long-lasting water filters, a new relationship with Jesus Christ, and systemic, Christ-centered change through discipleship training.

While The Bucket Ministry is focused on clean water and evangelism, there are many other organizations like ours making an eternal impact through meeting hunger needs, building homes, caring for children, providing disaster relief, or giving medical care. We care as much about the earthly existence of those we serve as we do their heavenly lives.

Each of us understands that our services are not just meeting a physical need. Rather, our work opens doors to meet spiritual needs, as well. We see ourselves as playing a vital role in God’s ultimate mission of building His Church. Through the aid we offer, we garner trust and form relationships to allow for Gospel-centered conversations with people who might have never been open to attending a church. This leads to an opportunity to point these new believers to a local congregation so they can grow in their faith and join with other Jesus followers.

Having worked in this space, I won’t deny what billions of dollars from the government can provide — food, clean water, shelter, and much more. Yet, I know there is a greater need, which is why I am committed to continuing my mission until the Great Commission is fulfilled.

My hope is that as fellow believers consider where they give financially this year, they will do so bearing in mind both the physical and spiritual needs of those around the world. Through choosing to partner with a faith-based nonprofit committed to the eternal needs, they can actually empower the Church to accomplish its mission.

Christopher Beth is the founder, chief storyteller and director of The Bucket Ministry, a global nonprofit sharing God’s love through the gift of clean, safe, drinking water.

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