NEWBERRY — The Lutheran Church of The Redeemer’s Redeemer Summer Service Project is now in full swing. This year’s project is providing water bottles to those who may need the hydration during the hot summer months.
“We are trying to do something new each year, to encourage each of us to live out our faith, in service in God, for and with one another,” said the Rev. Matthew Titus. “I bounce around each year. Last year I did the Redeemer Summer Study. We learned about the Lutheran Faith. I have done this specific thing before, more on a personal level.”
When Titus was leading a church in Michigan, a member of his congregation was the head custodian at the University of Michigan. He told Titus one day that the college students leave their reusable water bottles everywhere, and that he had a trove of water bottles that he did not know what to do with.
“Being that I had to travel a lot more up there, to go to hospitals, and Michigan had a huge down turn in jobs during that time, it was right after the Recession. There were a lot of people standing on the sides of the roads, so I asked him to give me like 10 bottles, and if I saw someone on the side of the road, I would get out of my car and talk to them and give them a water bottle,” Titus said. “I encouraged my congregation at that time to participate in it, but they did not travel as much. So there was not as much of an opportunity to give those water bottles out to people.”
Titus added that people are sometimes hesitant to give money at times, because they never know where it could go.
“Coming up with the idea to help people live into that faith life and service, and to be in a relationship with somebody, even if it is five minutes, just to say here is some water, here is some food, I would love to help you out. I have encouraged folks here that if you see somebody, no matter who they are, walking on the side of the road, that is an opportunity to give a water bottle. It does not have to be somebody you think is in need. If you see somebody on the side of the road, give them water.”
The Redeemer received the reusable water bottles that they have through donations. Titus said someone was able to donate 24 water bottles, another individual gave eight and a few others have donated a water bottle here and a water bottle there.
“A text that we read recently is Jesus talking to his disciples end of the conversation with them, even giving a cold cup of water to one of there little ones, you will receive a reward,” Titus said. “But I think the reward we receive is not the way people want to interpret it, not that you are going to get anything back, blessed with wealth or anything. The reward is knowing you are living out your faith and helping someone in need.”
Titus had encouraged members of his congregation to help spread the word.
“Sometimes the best way to live out our faith is in a simple way like that,” he said. “In the culture that we live in, to want to and have to do something big and grand. When we cannot do that, we might end up doing nothing, because we do not think it will do any good, when in actuality, ministry is made up of small things done in the name of God. On the outside it does not seem significant, but to the person who receives it it means the world, and for the person who is able to participate.”
The free water bottles are set up in two areas of the church, the narthex and the church office. Titus said it is set up like give a bottle and take a bottle. During the week, people can swing by while the office is open to pick up a bottle if they wish.
To those who wish to donate a water bottle, Titus said it is a great way to declutter, especially during the summer months. He requests that only reusable water bottles are donated, not disposable.
“We have a lot of folks, professionals in their fields, go to conferences and get swag and generally there is a water bottle,” he said.
Not only are donations of bottles needed, but so are donations of time.
“I have people within the congregation that work in Columbia, definitely think about them as they travel to where ever they work, take a bottle or two with you. I have encouraged folks that go on trips, take water with you and say ‘hey, I am from Newberry, we are giving out water to those we see that may need it,’” Titus said. “There is a segment of the population that people do not notice all the time within Newberry. Great need to help those within this community, that we always do not get to see. Giving out water bottles helps us see and take notice that there is a need within our community. It feels good to give people water when it is really hot out.”
Reach Andrew Wigger at 803-276-0625 ext. 1867 or on Twitter @ TheNBOnews.