Love looks like giving clean water to a man in a refugee camp
Shanna McClarnon is the Samaritan’s Purse Information and Communications Manager in South Sudan.
“Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me,” (Matthew 25:40b, NKJV). These are the words that Jesus tells His followers when describing how to treat others. At a refugee camp in South Sudan, I saw this commandment put into practice.
A local man walked up as I was training the Samaritan’s Purse water, sanitation, and hygiene team on photography techniques at one of the nearby water points. The man’s erratic behavior and demeanor made it apparent that he was suffering from a mental illness.
The man carried an empty plastic bottle in his hand and began filling it with dirty water from a mud puddle nearby. All the children fetching water at the tap stands began laughing and pointing at him.
My heart broke as I turned to continue training the team. But then something unexpected happened. Joo Kafi, the health and hygiene supervisor for Samaritan’s Purse, knelt down next to the disabled man. Joo took the bottle full of dirty water and brought it to the water tap to rinse it out with clean water. He then filled it with safe drinking water and handed the bottle back to the man, giving him a pat on the back. My eyes welled with tears when I saw Joo caring for the stranger.
Joo didn’t care what other people thought or that his colleagues were watching what was taking place. He helped someone in need simply because that is what we are called to do, what we should do.
A refugee himself, Joo fled his home in the Nuba Mountains due to continued bombings and violence in the area and arrived at Yida refugee camp in 2011, where he now takes care of his mom and younger siblings. Yet despite his circumstances, Joo continues to love others as Jesus commanded—boldly, unconditionally, and sacrificially.
Jesus said, “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35, NKJV). Joo’s servant heart demonstrates God’s love for all of His children. What I thought would be a day of training in the field, ended up being a much needed reminder of what God has commanded us all to do—love others.