Monday, July 28, 2014

Sarah's Water Year

          Christ In Youth, known as CIY has been described as life-changing. For non-believers, it may be a first real step into a new life. For committed Christians, however, CIY can awaken one’s existing faith to where prayer and Bible reading may no longer be enough to serve God. So at the end of the week of CIY, the youth can choose to take a Kingdom Worker card.
     Kingdom Worker cards present the person with a spiritual challenge, to live life more for God and less for oneself. When the cards are drawn, the bearer is committed to follow through. A card might say to read The Bible in a year, arrange weekly prayer time with parents, start a Bible club at school or many other tasks, tasks that allow the youths to exercise this new faith in a productive service to God.
     When my daughter, Sarah, went to CIY in the summer of 2013, the promotions throughout the week for kingdom worker cards gave her the desire for a serious challenge. She already felt close to God, but knew it was time to take a radical step in service and commitment. At the end of the week, she drew a card.
Sarah had heard of this card, and deep down, she wanted it. She wanted a significant challenge, and here is what she got:
Drink nothing but tap water for a year. Raise and donate $20 a month to Active Water.
     For a whole year, only tap water. No soda, milk, not even bottled water. Sarah came back from CIY trembling with excitement when she told me about it. I was astounded. My first thought was how much I wouldn’t want to do that. No coffee in the morning? Wait, no coffee for a year?
     But Sarah knew she could do this. She wanted to serve God more than she had done in the past. She wanted this.
     I asked Sarah what some of the toughest things were. She told me about having nightmares in which she would accidently drink soda. She remembers staying at a place famous for its milkshakes, overcoming cravings for smoothies on hot days, and skipping Grandmother’s Christmas cider that year. I saw her pour water on her cereal and skip the juice at communion.
     Still, Sarah said one of the hardest parts was when people tried to pity her. “Oh you poor thing, you can’t get a soda?” People had no reason to feel sorry for her because of the choice she made. This was not an experience to be pitied.
     Sarah did odd jobs and raised money for Active Water and this made her feel blessed too.
“Working to raise 20 dollars a month was small compared to what other people have to do to stay alive,” she told me.
This project became her passion over that year. Researching Active water, she wrote on her blog:
Many people don’t realize the importance of clean, accessible water. They often take for granted the multiple sinks and faucets in their houses. We don’t think twice about the drinking fountains that are in most public places in our towns and cities. So many people are unaware that small children have to walk for miles every day, unaccompanied, to bring home a bucket of dirty water for their families. The water is often so filthy that it makes the people who drink it very sick. But they don’t have anything else.

            Being nonprofit, Active Water has to get money from somewhere. They do this with the help of fundraising: athletic challenges, benefit concerts, and generous donators. People use their different talents to support Active Water, from bake sales to debates. Anyone can help.
            Sarah had one incident early on where she accidentally drank ice tea. But she was coached to continue the challenge. So she added an extra day on for her slip and made it the whole rest of the year. In July of 2014, she broke her fast with chocolate milk. Later, she reported that bottled water “tasted thin”.
     I asked Sarah how she had changed. What did drawing that Kingdom Worker card do in her life?
     “I can do big stuff,” she replied.
     Indeed, the Kingdom Worker cards offer youths not only a chance to serve God in a radical, sacrificial way, but they can prove to themselves what they are capable of when they commit to God.
     “This has given me peace,” Sarah also said. I thought that she meant peace in herself or thankfulness in the clean water she has. But no, that isn’t what she meant.
     The peace Sarah meant was a sense of purpose. She wants to live for God and be a missionary, assisting in bringing clean water to those who don’t have it.
     It’s amazing what can happen when someone rises up to a significant challenge with the simple attitude of “I want to do this because I love God.” Sarah’s faith has inspired me, and I see that love for God being brought to the world.