Challenging the Redefinition of Generosity and the Stewardship of WaterSuhail Khan
What if the water crisis is merely just an opportunity for our city to find a new awakened dependence in God? A dependence that causes our very nature to be shaken to the point that we are physically on our knees begging for rain? Contrary to this, what if we changed our prayers from “please God, make it rain” to “God, please prepare my heart for this trying time so that I can be loving and gracious with my resources”? What if our city’s drought is more than just a water crisis but it is spiritual awakening towards generosity and hospitality?
Before we go any further, what is stewardship? The Institute of Faith, Work and Economics states that “stewardship expresses our obedience regarding the administration of everything God has placed under our control, which is all encompassing. Stewardship is the commitment of one’s self and possessions to God’s service, recognizing that we do not have the right of control over our property or ourselves”. Generosity is simply the giving of one’s self and possessions to others without an expectant nature of something in return. With the current reality of Cape Town being the first city in the world to run out of water countless Capetonians are stockpiling water to ensure water security for themselves and their families. We see this being done either through the collection of municipal water from taps, spring water points or purchasing bulk quantities of water from shops. What I have noticed is that many people are focusing only on themselves, willing to even fight others in queues to purchase water. In some capacities, the thought process may be, “I earned this water through my own efforts, time and money”. It seems as though Capetonians have started looking at water as a commodity.
How do Christ-followers integrate their faith with water scarcity? One thing, as you may have guessed already, is to look at what we have with a heart of generosity and hospitality. What could God be leading his followers into at this time? This involves more than just our resources, but includes our hearts and attitudes, too.
Consider who is in your circle, your neighbourhood, your workplace. Who will be made vulnerable by #DayZero? We often associate vulnerability with someone that doesn’t have much – an image that always comes to mind is Lorch’s photograph of the starving girl surrounded by vultures in Sudan. We often see vulnerability with the homeless, unemployed, informal settlement dwellers etc. Day Zero will in itself reveal a whole new type of vulnerability that we haven’t yet thought through as a society. Vulnerability at Day Zero and afterwards will essentially encompass anyone that is at higher risk of being hurt by the realities that Day Zero brings. This could be someone that loses their job, the elderly that can’t fetch their own water, orphanages and old age homes that don’t have the means to collect enough water for their residents, the disabled that can’t carry 25 litre bottles of water or even just someone in your small group that cannot easily access the water distribution points. Are we even looking for those around us that could need assistance at Day Zero and beyond?
The water crisis is an opportunity to bring together our communities through the common every day need of water, to revitalise community cohesion, generosity and our responsibility of being good stewards of the natural resources God has bestowed on us. God has given us the gifts of natural: water, earth, animals etc. to use for our flourishing. However, in respect and reverence of these gifts God has generously given us, we need to steward resources, like water, respectfully and with wisdom. This is an ideal opportunity to show generosity to the world in both physical and non-physical ways. There are so many things that we can do as Christians to steward generosity within our city during this crisis like fetching water for the elderly, donating water to underprivileged schools, reducing our personal consumption, provide water to animal shelters, donate water to clinics, educate others about becoming water conscious – this list is literally endless. In saying this, even though we may only receive 25 litres of water a day for personal use, this is 25 litres of which we can do so much more for others in an outward response.
Luke 11:33 speaks about how a lit lamp is never hidden away where the light cannot shine. We, as the Christian Body of Cape Town have been given a wonderful opportunity of serving our neighbourhoods and neighbours. We can demonstrate the character of Christ, being His light in a time of crisis. Yes, day zero might be pushed out and never happen, but I am praying that the body of Christ will be showing a watching world what it looks like when Christ is reigning over our hearts, lives, time, resources and water supplies.
Suhail Khan is a key member of the InnerCity Social Justice Ministry Team and part of the Common Good staff team.