How a Cube of Ice Melted My Heart
"For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward." - Mark 9:41 (KJV)
I was in a Mayan Indian village in the western area of the Toledo District of Belize at a fairly new preaching point that had been established by the native Pastor from Indianville near the coast. About a dozen of us had jammed into my little Suzuki SUV to conduct a worship service in the thatched roof hut used normally as a home but, on special occasions, became a place of worship.
The home was a traditional Mayan dwelling with thatched leaves for a roof, pimento sticks bound together for walls, low interior beams supporting the structure, dirt floors and no electricity. The house was illuminated by glass bottles filled with kerosene suspended from the beams by rope with a small cloth wick alive with a dim, but dancing, flame.
When we arrived, the family was busily putting rough wood benches in place and transforming their home into a House of God. What is more, they had prepared a meal that we would enjoy afterward. I learned very early on that worshiping with the Mayan people was never just worship. Being Apostolic in every way, there would be the breaking of bread and fellowship as often as they were able. But first things first; intense prayer followed by sincere worship and attentive focus on the preached Word of God ending with a response to what was taught from Scripture.
I played the guitar while the native Pastor led the congregation in singing unto the Lord in Q'eqchi', the predominant language of the Mayans of Belize. Along with the shouting of the congregation came a gasp of shock from none other than the big, brave Missionary as I opened my eyes after having closed them in worship to the hungry glare of eight eyes surrounded by eight grasping legs. A sizeable spider had descended from the thatched roof and taken up an observation point from a strand of web only a few inches from the tip of my nose. I excommunicated the intruder as quickly as possible.
Service having ended, the rough wooden benches were rearranged to form a very low table surrounded by benches of equal height. The table was furnished with stewed chicken with rice and fried plantain along with plenty of fresh, hot tortilla. As I looked at the humble but adequate fare for which I was most appreciative, I noticed the contents of my drinking glass. Inside were a couple of fairly pathetic looking ice cubes floating in a small puddle of water. When the communal bottle of Coca-Cola was passed around I noticed that I was the only person with ice in my glass.
The village where the service was held is one of several in the nation of Belize that has still yet to receive the blessing of electricity. What I was unaware of was the absence during service of a small boy and his sudden presence during the meal. The boy was given a Belizean Dollar (50 cents in the American currency) and sent to the next nearest village with electricity and a freezer to buy whatever ice he could for that price so that I could have it with my drink at the meal. Knowing that Americans enjoyed ice in their drinks, the church family felt it was the least they could do to provide me some comfort being that I was so far away from "home" and my own American culture.
There wasn't much ice there once the service had ended but that which remained holds a precious place in my memory. Love isn't always best expressed by the size of the gift but by the spirit of the giver. Our offering to one another in Christian charity might seem small. That's immaterial. The sacrifice we give to the Lord appears so trivial at times. That simply doesn't matter. The judgment of God upon two small coins given by an impoverished widow in Luke 21 was that she had given more than all because of the depth to which her hand was willing to reach into her shallow and poorly furnished pocket.
My heart is constantly challenged by the vision that young Mayan boy who walked a jungle road in absolute darkness to buy the preacher a cup of ice just to make him feel welcomed and at home. If that isn't a pure example of Christian charity to be emulated by us all, what is?