A cup of cold water, a kind and caring word

school kids

SCHOOL CHILDREN AT the Peaks Ice Arena avail themselves of free water inside the venue before watching the women’s ice hockey game between Kazakhstan and Sweden.


While the temperature was perfect for Monday’s medal-sweeping USA men’s halfpipe snowboard team, it seemed too cold to offer visitors a cup of cold water. But that was what we were here to do.

That Monday was the first time my team staffed a hydration station in Olympic Square. The high temperature for the day was 33 degrees but during our shift it dipped to the low 20s.

Our station consisted of a table covered with three 10-gallon coolers of water and some cups. A small white tent behind us held more coolers and cases of cups. Our job was to replace empty coolers with full ones and to make sure plenty of cups were always available. Since this was not time-consuming we had ample time to talk to the people who stopped by for water and to offer them maps and pins that told the story of salvation.

It seemed strange that we were offering cold water to people who were already cold. Many people stopped by hoping for coffee or hot chocolate. I would apologize and point them in the direction of the nearest refreshment stand where they could purchase what they wanted. After a couple of these encounters, I learned that people dehydrate quickly here because of the dry climate and high altitude. The best thing for everyone is a cup or two of water. “This is smart,” one recipient said. “The Salvation Army was thinking. Since people have water, they won’t get sick and need to see a doctor.”

I realized then how giving cold water to freezing people is much like offering the gospel to the world. It isn’t exactly what they want to hear but it is exactly what they need. At that moment I was truly grateful to be a part of The Salvation Army because this organization allows me the opportunity to offer a cup of cold water to the world in Jesus’ name — thereby introducing them to the source of living water as well.

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