Meet Annie. A college student joining us in Save a Drink. Her story is profound. Check it out:
Most college students are addicted to coffee. Me? Well, I’m addicted to tea. I drink it to relax, to wake up, to motivate me through one more 20-page essay (as an English major), and to help my tired vocal chords during performance week (as a theatre minor). I drink it alone in my dorm, with my parents when I head home for a holiday, and with my friends here at school during a Bible study or a late-night chat. Essentially, tea defines me.
But this Lent season, God challenged me to give up all beverages but water—including tea—that others might have water. Earlier this semester, God began to make me uncomfortable with my complacency. I’m a Christian living in America attending a wonderful, Christian college and being funded by my wonderful, Christian parents. I’m saved, and I’m blessed. But saved for what? Blessed for what? What’s the purpose of all the comforts I have if I don’t do anything with them?
Around the same time, God laid Genesis 12:2 on my heart: “And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.” Here, God is referring to Abraham and the blessing of fathering Israel, but the same can be applied to my life. I’m blessed to be a blessing. This realization sparked prayers about realistic, tangible ways to bless others with my blessings, prayers that God used in leading me to Blood:Water and in confirming my seemingly insignificant sacrifice.
About halfway through Lent (a stress-induced, caffeine-deprived headache impending), I was seated in a stereotypical college classroom studying for a stereotypical college midterm with my friend Yannick, an international student born and raised in Rwanda—the same country that all the Save a Drink, Save a Life donations are traveling to! We studied some, but (as is typical of college study sessions) we primarily shared stories.
Yannick told me all about his faith, his family, his people, his country—and I was captivated. I mentioned my fundraiser, and he engulfed me in the most genuine hug I have ever received: “I’m amazed by your tender heart, Annie. You don’t even know these people, yet you sacrifice for them.”
Later that night, Yannick phoned home to tell his friends and family about Blood:Water and about me. Suddenly, I was receiving Facebook friend requests from people I’d never met in person, but I felt I had met because of Yannick’s stories. They simply wanted to encourage me, to remind me that my sacrifice has tangible effects.
How humbling! On a night where my aching head reminded me of my desperate need for tea, God used Yannick to realign my focus. This fundraiser is helping REAL people living REAL lives. Wow.
Up until that point, donations had been flowing into my page periodically, though I was a little worried about meeting my goal by Easter. But two nights after my conversation with Yannick (after we conquered that midterm and headed out for spring break!), the donations began flooding in all at once. And I truly mean flooding in. Hundreds of dollars came in on a single night, and I surpassed my goal with three and a half weeks left to Easter!
It was 1:00 a.m. when I received the congratulatory email from Blood:Water. I was alone, sitting in my basement, texting Yannick, and crying tears of unadulterated joy. Hundreds of dollars. Wow. I couldn’t stop thinking about the hundreds of people, REAL people, who were going to be blessed just as I have been.
Now that break is over and we’re back on campus, Yannick continues to encourage me. He always asks me about my headaches, always tells me about a new friend from Rwanda that has an encouraging word for me. Oh! And he’s already promised to have a feast with me after church on Easter morning, complete with Rwandan tea and fresh squeezed juice.
So, this Lent season, my petty sacrifice was made tangible. Honestly, giving up tea? How hard can it be and what can it really do? Well, the headaches have made it much more difficult than I anticipated, but these conversations with my Rwandan brother have made it more worthwhile than I ever could have imagined.
So, thank you God for all you’ve blessed me with, including my American comforts, my friend Yannick, Blood:Water—yes, and tea!