All he wanted was a bottle of water.
Rashad’s * life did a complete 180 in the blink of an eye. One day he was a typical 10-year-old boy going to school, playing soccer with his friends, riding his bike and watching TV.
Then ISIS arrived in his town. He and his family fled with nothing but what they were wearing. They made their way to a refugee camp near Mosul, Iraq, and reality smacked them in the face.
The camp — their new home — was smelly, dirty, and overcrowded The sea of tents held as many as four or five families in each one. People were hungry. Babies were wailing. Adults had the vacant stare of war survivors; children were making up games to keep themselves entertained.
When World Help trucks arrived at the camp with food and supplies, Rashad and his family immediately became excited. Maybe tonight they wouldn’t go to sleep with aching, gnawing hunger.
But what Rashad wanted as much as food was clean water to drink. The water the tanker trucks delivered to the camp every few days wasn’t suitable for drinking, only bathing.
He spotted a gentleman wearing a black World Help hat talking with the refugees; surely, this man must be with the truck that was delivering food!
Rashad made his move. He worked his way through the crowd over to Vernon Brewer, president of World Help, and waited patiently for him to finish talking so he could ask his question.
“Sir, can I have a drink of water?”
“What?” Vernon looked at the boy, trying to make sure he had heard him correctly.
“May I please have a drink of water?”
Vernon immediately thought of his own grandchildren as he looked into Rashad’s big, brown eyes. He pondered the Christmas lists his grandkids had assembled; not one of them asked for a bottle of water.
With tears in his eyes, he found a 12-pack of bottled water and handed it to the boy. Rashad’s smile of gratitude said more than words ever could.
When Vernon returned to the States, he shared with our staff the story of the 10-year-old boy. And he challenged us to think about Rashad over the holidays — each time we took a drink of water.
I thought about Rashad several times over Thanksgiving, and I still think about him as we enjoy the Christmas season. Will Rashad and his family have anything to celebrate? Does he know that someone halfway around the world cares about him and prays for him? Most importantly, does he know that the One whose birthday we celebrate at Christmas loved him so much that He died for him?
Think about Rashad in the days ahead as you gather with family. Say a prayer for him and all the other refugee children who have been uprooted and now live with constant fear and uncertainty.
If you’ve been blessed, be a blessing in return. Your $35 gift can mean the difference between life and death for Rashad or another refugee child desperately waiting for someone to help.
* Name changed for security