Filter of Hope

When Bilbo Baggins asked if Gandalf guaranteed his safe return from the adventure Gandalf was offering to Bilbo, Gandalf replied, “No. And if you do (return), you will not be the same.”

While short-term mission trips rarely involve the same level of peril as the reluctant hobbit faced, they certainly have transformative power.

Neither my wife nor I had been on a short-term mission before, but when invited to go to Guatemala with Filter of Hope for a short-term mission organized through Faculty Commons this past summer, we were excited about this opportunity. During our week together, our team of professors, Ph.D. students, spouses, and kids had the opportunity to install portable water filters and share the gospel in over 40 homes.

Access to clean drinking water is a huge issue throughout much of the developing world. Filter of Hope has developed a small, portable filter that can provide a family with 250 gallons of clean water daily for up to ten years.

Not only does the filter meet a vital and important physical need, but it provides an incredible illustration of the gospel: our lives representing the dirty water, and that only through Christ – God’s “filter” or mediator – can our lives become clean. This is a beautiful illustration that is easily understood.

As we shared the gospel in each home, we had the privilege of seeing dozens of men and women indicate a decision to receive Christ through repentance and faith in Jesus.

We also provided each family with a New Testament, and learned how we can pray for them and their families. A member of the partnering local church was with us at every home we visited, taking responsibility to follow up with the people.

One person receiving a filter was a young mother whose own mother had died about a year ago. It was just her, her younger brother, and her son – they were alone, and she felt the weight of that burden. Hearing how God loved her, and seeing us take the time to listen and pray for her, helped her understand that God sees her needs and cares.

The harvest is plentiful, and – similar to the short-term mission to Samaria that Jesus took the disciples on in John 4 – we reaped what we had not sown. Others had labored and we entered into their labor, that the sower and reaper thus rejoice together.

As I return to the more familiar life of a faculty member, I am wondering why I have not noticed the same profound needs in the harvest around me. People around us are as spiritually dead and in desperate need of a Savior as those we met on the mission trip in Guatemala.  

For my wife and I, the short-term mission renewed our conviction that the Savior is asking us to lift up our eyes and recognize the spiritual needs in front of us. We are more deliberate to reach out to those around us.

I am (imperfectly, I might add) taking more time to pray for and reach out to students and faculty.  What is my place in the harvest around me at work? Is it to sow? Is it to water? Is it to reap?

As Isaiah heard God’s call, “Who will go for us?” May we respond as the prophet did, “Here I am, Lord. Send me.” (Isa 6:8).

Lanny Griffin

Cal Poly San Luis Obispo

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