Categories
Ministry

Blood:Water Mission

One of my favorite ministries is Blood:Water Mission.  Their mission is simple: Empower communities to work together against the HIV/AIDS and water crisis.  They were founded by the band Jars of Clay.  Here’s a taste of what they are all about:

IT’S A BEAUTIFUL STORY. We’re a group of passionate people who have been inspired by our friends in Africa, friends who face unbearable challenges from the HIV/AIDS and water crises. We creatively and thoughtfully raise awareness and the necessary funds for the provision of clean blood and clean water in sub-Saharan Africa.

Blood:Water Mission first stepped into funding a late stage AIDS hospice and discovered the vital link between living with HIV/AIDS and the need for clean water. As a result, Blood:Water Mission launched the 1000 Wells Project in 2005 as a nation-wide effort to raise enough money to provide clean water and sanitation to 1000 communities in sub-Saharan Africa based on the equation that $1 provides one African with clean water for an entire year.

You can find more amazing water facts (like the one above) on their Flickr site.

Categories
Life

I Heard the Bells

This famous Christmas carol was based on the poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.  He penned these verses on Christmas Day 1863, when he found out that his son had been wounded in the Battle of New Hope Church during the American Civil War.

I Heard the Bells
Written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Performed by Jars of Clay.

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

I thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along the unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair I bowed my head:
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.”
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair I bowed my head:
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.”
Of peace on earth, good will to men
Of peace on earth, good will to men

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men.”

Till, ringing singing, on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime,
Of peace on earth, good will to men!

Categories
Life

An Advent Hymn

The carol, Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming, is a 15th century German hymn that was translated to English by Theodore Baker in 1894.  The hymn is based on the prophecy that Jesus will be from the root of Jesse, David’s father.  Isaiah 11:1-2 says, “There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.  And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.”

The Lord Jesus descended from Jesse.  He came with the Spirit.  He came with a knowledge of our brokenness.  He came to save us.  This hymn reflects that, but O how especially sweet is the last verse!

O Savior, Child of Mary, who felt our human woe,
O Savior, King of glory, who dost our weakness know;
Bring us at length we pray, to the bright courts of Heaven,
And to the endless day!

Categories
Ministry

Today is World AIDS Day

Today is World AIDS Day.  Here is a email I received today from Blood:Water Mission, written by Dan Haseltine of Jars of Clay.  Let’s pray for the Church to lead AIDS victims to Jesus, the only true hope for their lives, and ours.

I was not really prepared.  As I turned the corner, my eyes took it in, and I felt my lungs fill with air, and let it all go,  as if I had just beheld a great waterfall, or a mountain vista.  It was nothing of the sort.  But it was still breathtaking.  It was around 3:30pm.  I looked at the sky, which had turned a woolen gray, and then back at the paper where I had scribbled the information.  I wasn’t really sure what to expect. My oldest son draped in a replicated Union army cap and coat, and my youngest bundled up against the short bursts of winter wind, and spray of cold rain, walked with me, the two blocks from our house to a quaint little house and barn that had been preserved as a reminder of a great and bloody battle.

It was the anniversary of the Battle of Franklin, one of the most gruesome battles of the Civil War.  We were the first spectators to arrive.  The busy street had been blocked off for hours, as a small handful of volunteers placed a candle in a white paper bag for each of the nearly ten thousand soldiers that lost their lives during that fateful day of November 30th, 1864.

We walked slowly down the rows and rows of white bags that stretched out of sight, and down the street.  Perhaps it was the combination of gray clouds, misty rain, and the fact that history becomes decidedly more important to me when I am walking along with two little people who represent the future. But I was struck by the magnitude of such a display.  I was sobered by a visual of what “ten thousand” looked like.

I began to consider what it must have felt like to be there.  Both sides fighting, moved onward by a sense of purpose and conviction that was worth overcoming fear and entering even unto death.  Have I ever experienced or even witnessed two passionately opposing forces at the climax of purpose? Have I ever felt the weight of the kind of upholding of a belief that springs from the core of their souls or the urgency to protect something that rests as the very foundation of humanity?  I have never been to war.  I have appreciated it’s brutal power, and have even hovered around the ripple effects of it’s deadly sting, as friends have dealt with the loss of loved ones.  But I was humbled by the view in front, and all around me as I walked, and counted and imagined the faces and stories of each of those soldiers.  It is regretable that the story of American History must hold the Civil War in it’s pages.

Today is another day to remember.  There is another battle that our streets are not lengthy nor wide enough to hold the number of luminaries to represent all that have fallen during the fight.   It is the fight against HIV/AIDS.  And today, I remember the hands of men that I have held while doing my best to comfort them in their dying hours.  I remember the stories of hopelessness, of fear, of despair that blanketed the air of entire communities like the gray clouds of November in Franklin, TN.

But there is so much risk in thinking about too many stories at once.  Without a way to visualize millions of faces, I am reminded that AIDS is a disease that kills one person at a time.  It is a disease that destroys the body, one blood cell at a time.  It destroys families one person at a time.  It creates a void, a deep emptiness where hope and health should be,  one story at a time.  And so today,  I am thinking about how I can help one person.  How I can love and act, and advocate on behalf of one person.  And in the midst of this great and challenging fight, we may one day realize that we have the opportunity to not be able to visualize the millions of stories that have regained their threads of hope, and sustained their health.

Can you think of a person?  Can you put yourself in the place of someone wrestling with HIV/AIDS?  Do you wonder what their fears might be? Do you wonder what their families might be going through?  Do you consider the moment that they have to bring the news of their illness to their family? Is there room in your heart,  in my heart to feel what they feel?

Today is World AIDS Day.  To most of us, it is just another day.  What would it take for us to remember there is no such thing as “Just another day.”  And what would it look like to do our best to ensure that those wrestling on this day under the weight of this disease can make it to the next?

It is in our hands.  It is our ideas, our passion, our willingness to learn, to fail, to search, to love, and to fight that will bring forth the ideas and the designs to beat HIV/AIDS.

It is my hope that we will continue to feel the urgency of this great need.  It is my desire that we will continue to open our hearts to the stories of people all around the world that suffer.

I believe that God has given us this great privilege to be a part this great act of healing.  Please join us in praying, in knowing, in loving, and in serving.

And maybe we can one day celebrate by saying, “Happy World AIDS Day!”

Peace to you,

Dan Haseltine
Categories
Theology

Blood:Water Mission

Here’s a 4-minute video of the guys from Jars of Clay talking about their ministry Blood:Water Mission.  This is a ministry that I’m passionate about and God blessed me at my first Jars of Clay concert to discover what this ministry is about.  I’m so thankful to be a prayer and giving partner with them.  Enjoy the video and I pray that you’ll consider joining Blood:Water in their endeavor to reach a broken continent with clean water for their bodies and living water for their souls.