The Gift that Keeps on Giving


By Brian Mateer

This Christmas will be different for me and my family as we will not be taking our annual trip to Pennsylvania to visit with extended family.  It is the first time I can remember we will not be making the trek north between Thanksgiving and the New Year.  My last remaining grandparent passed away earlier this year.  It will be strange and sad this tradition will not continue.

Several months after grandma died, my mom contacted me to let me know she wanted to do something impactful with a portion of my grandmother’s estate.  Her suggestion was to donate money to build a well in the northern region of Haiti where our church is in ministry.  With great excitement we wired the funds to our Haitian partners to drill and build a well and eagerly awaited word of its completion.  After a few weeks I received confirmation the well was complete and would significantly improve the quality of life for a village hit hard with the disease cholera.

In October, I had the chance to visit this well.  Hopping into the front seat of my Haitian friend’s truck we set off to a remote community surrounded by mountains.  When I say remote, picture a paved road leading to a gravel road, leading to a dirt road, ending at a sometimes dry and sometimes flowing creek bed.  After several miles of twisting around and through the stream we finally arrived at a small community seemingly cut off from the world.

With growing excitement, I emerged from the truck to see the well my family was responsible for funding.  Grinning, I walked over to the hand pump to test out the well.  Before long, children and adults gathered from the surrounding village to find out what was all the commotion about.  My guess is, it’s not every day a white skinned man and a Haitian in a pickup truck visit their village. Pumping the well arm several times, the crystal clear, clean, life giving water flowed out for this community. Then I glanced down and I saw the inscription on concrete well base: “Because of Jesus Christ, our living water.

After several other demonstrations of the functionality of the well from some of the children gathered, a woman walked up to me and said something in Creole.  My Haitian friend translated.  She said, “This well is a gift from God.”  Fighting back tears I could not muster any words and just nodded my head.

As we prepare for the coming of the birth of Jesus I have held this experience close to me.  I am reminded of how precious the gift of clean drinking water is.  I am thankful for the legacy of those before me, including my parents and grandparents, instilling in me the gift of serving the least of these. I am grateful for ministries like the 30 Hour Famine giving opportunities for youth leaders and young people to learn and participate in the kingdom work of providing the gift of “living water” across the globe.

Give the gift that keeps on giving.  Do the Famine.