It all began during one of the hottest days in July of last year here in Tulsa. As I sat with several of my homeless and formerly homeless friends in our men’s Bible study downtown, our conversations were intensifying regarding those who were suffering and feeling the dangerous effects of the hottest summer days in Tulsa. Our guys were deeply concerned that, as our weekly study continued to meet in the cool air conditioning of the church café, hundreds of people were outside in the sweltering heat.
Each Thursday our group always enjoys a nice lunch, cold water and soft drinks, and usually dessert. Our mealtimes always include great fellowship with one another followed by a deep study of the Scriptures. As it often happens when people truly study and pray through the Scriptures, however, our men felt a call to put their faith into practice. We had been looking for a mission project to which our group might commit, and we had finally found it. They saw an opportunity to offer a needed ministry from our Bible study group to the downtown community. It was one they knew they could do; and do well. It would become their mission in 2013.
Most of our men have lived on the street for months and sometimes years at some point in their lives. They know how challenging it is to stroll along the baking pavements of downtown Tulsa during brutally hot summers.
And so, the Living Water Project was born and came to fruition in June of 2013. The goal: for the men and women of our Caring Center Bible Studies to hand out cold water bottles and cards with encouragement during the hottest days of the summer as a ministry of our downtown Caring Center. The LWP is a tangible way for the men and women of our Caring Centers who are growing in our discipleship process to put their faith into action and to be entrusted with some responsibility.
HOW WE DO IT
We purchased a handful of portable cooler-bags with shoulder straps which enable each person to carry several cold bottles of water. We also obtained thousands of pounds of bottled water. The water is distributed along with a simple encouraging card which is pictured below. Many of our Bible Study members come back several times during the week in order to get more water to distribute. Each of them have stories of gratefulness, ministry and prayer opportunities, and spiritual conversations that have developed as a result of the simple offer of a cold bottle of water and encouragement to a stranger on a hot day. These experiences have happened not only with the homeless and transient population, but also with those who work downtown and have to walk from place to place as part of their job or those who are brave enough to jog or ride bicycles during the heat of the day. This ministry is in its earliest stages, but its strategy is beginning to take shape. Without a doubt I can say our men have found a valuable ministry outlet and they are making it happen far more successfully than I ever could!
The summer of 2013 has not been nearly as hot as 2012, but the opportunities have still be there on several occasions. This has been a great time for the LWP to begin and our Bible study members are even more excited about the opportunities 2014 will bring. Our local paper, the Tulsa World, which is located downtown, took note of what our men are doing. They did a great article which is linked below.