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A Simple Cup of Water

Author: James B Carroll
Date: 15.07.2010
Category: Evangelism Training, Unreached People Groups

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Originally Posted in English

     The heat index on that summer afternoon in Texas was 105 degrees.  A slight southerly breeze offered the only relief from an otherwise miserable day.  My teenage daughter and I were returning from a doctor’s appointment.  The air-conditioned comfort of the minivan I was driving offered a welcome respite from the sweltering heat.  On this particular day, that trusted vehicle which was mere clicks away from registering 200,000 miles and had transported my family faithfully for years stalled unexpectedly.  Fortunately, I was able to maneuver the lifeless mass of steel to a side street that was clear of the adjacent freeway traffic.  A call to my mobile carrier’s roadside assistance program began a two-hour odyssey of waiting for a tow truck to transport the disabled vehicle to a nearby repair shop.

     The failure of the van’s alternator had drained the very life from its entire electrical system, rendering everything electrical useless.  We found ourselves sitting there with emergency flashers that were inoperative and power windows that would not roll down.  Meanwhile, the helpful folks with roadside assistance told us to “stay with the vehicle until help arrives.”  I personally could manage a twenty to thirty minute wait in the heat, but my daughter was becoming increasingly uncomfortable.  Noticing an IHOP restaurant nearby, I encouraged her to walk the less than fifty yards and inquire if she could sit in the air-conditioned foyer while we waited for help.  When the pleasant voice from roadside assistance informed me that the original wait of less than thirty minutes was being extended by an additional hour, I chose to join my daughter in the oasis she had found.

     Entering the foyer of the restaurant, I was greeted by my daughter’s smile.  Before the door had closed behind me, a gentleman approached through the second set of doors.  Carrying a paper cup and a drinking straw, he greeted me with the words, “You look like you could use this.”  The unsolicited offer of a cup of cold water from the manager of the establishment in which we had sought shelter from the heat caught me off-guard.  In the ensuing conversation, he revealed that he was pursuing a seminary education while working at the restaurant.  He described his love for people and the opportunity that his work provided to witness to a wide range of individuals in a non-confrontive manner.  To him, in spite of the restrictions his work placed on his education, his viewed his work as his ministry for the present time.

     What struck me about what some would describe as a random act of kindness was that, for him, it was unpretentious and sincere.  He never encouraged us to come into the restaurant as customers.  To the contrary, as his responsibilities called him away from our conversation, he offered that if we needed anything else we should inform a member of his wait-staff.  His demeanor during our encounter was reminiscent of the example of our Lord.  Individuals whom Jesus would meet as He traveled the countryside experienced His unconditional acceptance and genuine concerns for their felt needs.  His approach to the question of one’s salvation was typically predicated by the establishment of a rapport with the individual, an appreciation of their life circumstances and their physical needs.

Keywords: evangelism, social ministry, example of Christ

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Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down mgabrielle (0)
United States

Thank you so much for sharing this story. I love how the simplicity of the cup of water is so eye opening as to how we reach out to others in our community. I have heard an illustration from a missionary friend of mine about this type of matter before, so to speak. He stated that too often people want to rush into an area preaching the gospel without ever trying to meet their physical needs. Simply providing food, water, or shelter can greatly impact an individual. Through this a relationship is formed. It is a form of sharing Christ by loving people as Jesus Christ loves them. 

Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down Stephen_B (0)  
Brunei Darussalam

thanks James for recounting your experience in the Restaurant

It spurs us to be purposeful in discharging "random acts of kindness" to those we encounter in the course of our daily life. such acts of kindness carried out in the right spirit could be mustard seeds drawing others in the Kingdom

In the midst of our "busyness", may we find time and tranquility to be personal and kind to those around us regardless of their stature, and their relationship to us

Of course, from the perspective of Evangelism, there is also the need for "Proclaimation"; but offering a "cup of water" is a good starting point

Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down Sheriff_Daniel (1)  

Dear Brother James B Carroll, Greetings from India.

The story of A Simple Cup of Water is motivating us to live that life God is expecting us to live in Matthew 5:16 "In the same way, let your light shine before people, so that they can see your good deeds and give honor to your Father in heaven."

A cup of cold water quenched your Physical Thirst on that hot sunny day in Texas.

Jesus knew the need of that woman and was intentional to give her the living water.

This man at the restaurent was not God and did not know your spiritual need. But, His act was intentional. If you were a non believer, he could have introduced you to the The  living water Jesus through his act of practical love. so let us live an intentional life with intentional acts by showing Jesus in our lives.

Thank you for the post!

God bless you!

M.K. Sheriff Daniel


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