Better Together provides a space to share experiences with – and strategies for engaging – three critical global issues that PC(USA) global partners are challenging us to address together as the body of Christ. These three issues are 1) addressing root causes of poverty, especially as it impacts women and children; 2) sharing the Good News of God’s love in Jesus Christ; and 3) working for reconciliation in cultures of violence, including our own. The purpose of Better Together is to feed a conversation to shape concrete action strategies at the October 2012 “Dallas II: Better Together” consultation and beyond.
Wil Howie is the Executive Director for Living Waters for the World, an organization that "trains and equips mission teams to share the gift of clean and sustainable water with communities in need."
Better together? Indeed we are! The stark reality is that far more needs to be done than this particular PC(USA)-flavored Christian denomination can ever do on its own to fully address poverty, engage in witness and promote peace.
Gratefully, our World Mission office (PWM) has been wrestling with these critical issues in the midst of the rapidly changing and tumultuous denomination and world in which we live. Dallas II: Better Together is an excellent study guide.
Without hesitation Living Waters for the World (LWW) affirms PWM’s understanding that “maximum effectiveness. . . [depends upon collaborative efforts] with the broader Presbyterian family and at many levels. . . [and] should take place in ‘communities of mission practice.’”
LWW itself was conceived, birthed and nurtured in the connectional Presbyterian world, specifically through the Presbyterian Hunger Program’s Hunger Action Enablers’ work. In September 1993 the meeting of the Synod of Living Waters, PC(USA), approved LWW’s call and proposal for action. Working with World Mission and the Presbyterian Border Ministries project, Puentes de Cristo, our first clean water system was installed in April 1996.
Today, because individuals, congregations and civic organizations have sent over 1400 people to be trained at our first 37 Clean Water U schools, over 250 teams have installed 475 clean water systems in 24 countries with nine country Networks in place.
In reflecting on Better Together, there are several intersections between our work and the vision seen here.
Loving God and our neighbors, especially the poor, lies at the core of Christian faith and practice. In this globalized, fragmented world, the gap between those with and without continues to grow. Seeing the crisis of contaminated water, LWW jumped off into the deep end. One of our earliest discoveries was ‘clean water is medicine.’ We’ve seen what happens when a community is empowered, taking charge of their own clean water needs, then one of the ‘root causes’ of poverty begins to loosen its grip.
Our witness originates in our belief that Jesus Christ is living water for bodies and souls. Our teams find in their living out the good news of the Gospel through clean water systems and health education that God is glorified.
Peace: In the midst of interlocking cycles of greed, injustice and violence, LWW’s small-scale, community-based clean water systems bring hope, and foster more equitable environments of peace taking root in ‘communities of mission practice’ in growing numbers of neighborhoods and villages.
‘Clean water initiatives’ was second on the list of possible models and strategies for guiding our work forward. Already many LWW teams and networks are working closely with PC(USA) mission co-workers to the benefit of all. Micro-business models are also being incorporated in many of our locations.
Better together indeed. I’m looking forward to the conversation. May we be open to the newness God has in mind, growing us together as ‘communities of mission practice’ and then from Dallas, moving forward to address poverty, engage in witness and promote peace.
May it be so!