So many times as humanitarians we try to search for the silver bullet that will solve the rampant poverty and inequality felt throughout the developing world. Many NGOs believe education, or empowering women, or micro-loans are the modern day silver bullets. But there are much simpler and even more pressing issues than these ideas that must be solved first.
It is very hard for a child to focus on education when their stomach aches, or a person to start a business using micro-loans when they are in serious risk of dying from dehydration due to diarrhea. Both situations are unfortunately very common within the developing world. Their cause: poor drinking water quality. The complex issues that face our brothers and sisters through the globe do need to be addressed, but people first must have the basic necessity that we take for granted, safe drinking water. The World Health Organization estimates that 60% of the deaths in the developing world can be attributed to unsafe drinking water. Moreover, most of those deaths are caused by microbial agents that we learned to remove at the turn of the twentieth century!
The beauty of water quality treatment is that there are so many different methods that can be applied, covering a vast range of technological sophistication. The solution to providing safe drinking water can be as simple as a bio-sand filter, or as complex as an entire water treatment plant. The important part is that we first help to create a foundation that will be relied upon as the more complex problems are defined.
by Mark Kalivoda, Civil and Enviromental Engineering UFL undergrad student. President of Engineers without Borders, University of Florida Chapter
We’ve already acknowledged that we take safe, running water for granted. The average person uses 200 gallons of water a day. For the most part, those reading this live in relative comfort with access to safe water, electricity, the internet, etc. What about the rest of the world?
Almost 1 billion people around the world live without access to safe water. What does this mean? What is safe water? How would you define it? Water that is clear? Water that doesn’t have bacteria in it? Water that has some varying degree of contaminants in it? Does having a well next to one’s home equate to safe water? It might, but not necessarily. The ways water sources like wells can get contaminated are numerous. Many times, if the water appears clear, the community may not even recognize that it might have bacteria in it.
Naturally, we assume that clear water equates to clean water. Does it really? I would certainly be more likely to drink water that appears clear rather than dirty brown, but in reality many of the water borne diseases that exist may still be prominent in even clear water. Just because they cannot be seen, does not mean that they are not there. A common test used in the USA to test the “safeness” of a water source is the membrane filtration test. A sample of water is taken, put in a petri dish and left for a period of time to incubate. After that time, if there is chloroform (fecal or total) in the water it will appear with a black dot.
Fecal chloroform is poop. So, what you want is a clear petri dish. If you were to test your water in this way it would come out clear. Could you imagine testing your water, and seeing fecal chloroform dots in it? That’s gross. So I ask – we have safe water, shouldn’t they?
Something that seems absolutely disgusting to us is a reality that hundreds of millions of people live with every day. It’s not that they choose to drink this water instead of going over to the clean water spicket.
They don’t have a choice. It’s not an option.
Knowing this, isn’t it our responsibility to respond and to work with all our might to bring an end to this disparity? Should we do something about this? Should the church do something about this? Should we bring an end to the 1.4 million children who die every year because their water is contaminated? This is a reality, and it cries out for our attention.
One in eight. That’s how may people across the globe don’t have access to safe water. I’m talking the everyday water we casually and wastefully use. As an intern at Water Missions International, I’m not ashamed to admit that I knew little about the global water crisis going on today. Sure, I’ve heard stories about poor living conditions around the world, maybe seen a discouraging photo or two. But until I saw real pictures and film from Haiti and other disaster-ridden countries, I really had no idea how bad it could be. It’s that bad.
Imagine having to walk one mile each way to fetch the day’s water. Walking barefoot across the rigid, unforgiving ground with the sun glaring down at you. All of this just to collect water we wouldn’t even bathe with here in the states. It seems to me that we need to put our differences aside and join together for the sake of humanity. Racial inequalities, governmental policies and religious views often influence negligence over human aid. Let us help those in need by any means necessary.
If YOU didn’t have safe water to drink, wouldn’t you want help?
by Trevor Bowman
In 1 Corinthians 12 Paul writes about the different kinds of spiritual gifts. “Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.” (v.7) The Spirit is given to every believer and we are to use it for the “common good.” Paul does not write and tell us that the Spirit is given for our personal good, so that we feel better, or are praised for our gifts, but rather… we are to use it for the common good. That is, to lift up the Church or to minister to others in Jesus name.
It is only when we are faithfully using your gifts for “the common good” that we will be truly experiencing the fullness of life in Christ!
In verses 4-6 Paul says “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.” We are each given unique and different kinds of gifts, through the Holy Spirit, that should be used for the betterment of the Church.
People have all sorts of interests – sports, cooking, fashion, and music. Wouldn’t it be amazing if all believers decided to use their unique interests and gifts to bring hope to the world?
By providing communities with safe water, we have the opportunity to pour the light of Christ into their lives and give them hope. 1.8 million children die every year due to diseases caused by unclean water and poor sanitation.(UNDP) Is this not an issue that needs to be addressed immediately? It is not a scientifically challenging process to purify water, since we have this ability, shouldn’t we use it? By providing safe water you can give hope to a community by preventing the spread of life-draining diseases, getting healthy children to school, and freeing up time to develop their unique gifts!
We all have the ability to use our talents or gifts for the betterment of the Kingdom of God. Let’s partner our God-given abilities with the opportunity to change lives through safe water. This could be by raising money to run a marathon, hosting a cooking class, mentoring future missionaries within your church, or putting on a concert. Let’s devote ourselves to providing safe, clean water to people around the world so that they can pursue Christ and develop their passions in the same manner we do.
Can you imagine what it would be like to have your first taste ever of safe, clean water? We live in the land of choices.
Aquifina, Dasani, Nestle Pure Life, Poland Spring, Propel Fitness, Evian, Fruit20.
We have all these options, but many people around the world live their whole lives drinking bacteria infested, dirty water. It makes them sick. They have never even tasted clean water. There are many stories about the first time safe water is pumped into a new location and the community is nervous to drink the clear liquid, so the water operator acts as the test dummy and takes the first sip.
“And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward.”
What an incredible thing it must be to try it for the first time. Here are several of pictures of children in Haiti getting safe, clean water for the first time to inspire us to push forward in our mission.
“I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked”
Do we fall into the lukewarm category? That sense of being content while not really seeking God in our lives – maybe we go to Church on Sundays but we don’t really engage. Scholars suggest that Jesus was talking about two springs near Laodicea, both the hot mineral springs at Hierapolis and the cold water springs at Colossae. Both had unique characteristics in that the hot springs were thought to possess healing powers while the cold springs were refreshing. Therefore a spring that was lukewarm would be good for nothing – neither healing nor refreshing.
That is how Christ was referring to the Church of Laodicea. They, like us got so comfortable with their prosperity and freedom and forgot what it meant to be a Christian. When we get to comfortable we forget how desperately we need Christ and forget about living out the Great Commission.
And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)
Our lives in America are so comfortable; we forget the suffering that many Christians are faced with around the world. We forget that when we read about the early Church we are reading about a persecuted Church. Just look at Stephen in Acts 6. He was full of the Holy Spirit, performing great miracles, absolutely on fire for Christ but society couldn’t handle his message and he was stoned to death. Stephen was definitely not a lukewarm Christian.
It’s easy to see how we got here. Our post-modern society tells us that all things are relative and that you can believe whatever you want. Surely, this mindset has spread itself at least somewhat into our contemporary Christian culture – even if we don’t immediately notice it.
Our emphasis on evangelism, missions, and making new disciples starts to wane – and the focus shifts to what God can do for us. As Christians we have two major tasks – one inner and one outer. To both, transform ourselves into the likeness of Christ, and to make disciples of all the nations. Let’s not build up one at the loss of the other. We need to be like Stephen, living radically for the cause of Christ.
This kind of life, not lukewarm, but fully committed, could take many shapes. It could mean serving in our neighborhoods or committing ourselves to share the gospel message through the means of safe water to the millions of people who lack it. Imagine the impact such a ministry could have. It would be revolutionary, capable of transforming the lives of people across the world.
Young girl in Kenya.
I have a question I want to present and I’ll lay it out without any pretense.
What If the Church decided to serve? What if we didn’t act so reserved?
What if we actually reached out our hand? Would Jesus be proud, our #1 fan?
Our hands, our feet, our eyes, our ears, let’s use them all to HIS glory! Now, let’s be clear.
People are suffering, their dying alone, from dirty water and diseases that are known
Without a chance to know your name, the Gospel is urgent, it’s spread not in vain!
So What if the Church decided to serve? What if we didn’t act so reserved?
300,000 Churches all across the land. Let’s put our heads together, and come up with a plan.
Let’s make a commitment to act with speed, to bring safe water to those in need.
Boy in Kenya carrying home safe water.
Not only water, but your Word too. A life-giving combo, what good news!
I just ask that you join this movement today! And tell all your friends, even Aunt May.
God has given us all something – gifts, talents, and skills so we can bring. Glory to God, so the whole earth will sing!
What does it mean to be a servant? The dictionary describes service as an “act of helpful activity.” In this day it is so easy to be caught up with making a name for oneself and pursuing the next greatest thing – we forget that Jesus called us to humble ourselves and be like servants.
Mark 9:35 says “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.” That attitude is such a contrast from what society tells us about greatness. Instead of exalting ourselves, we are to make ourselves “the servant of all.” The Kingdom of God operates on completely different set of standards. Psalm 84:10 says “I would rather be a gatekeeper in the house of my God than live the good life in the homes of the wicked.”
Being a servant to all can mean any number of different things. I think it takes a fundamental shift in our motivation/thinking. We must go from being self exalting to God exalting. We have to shift from thinking about what we want, to what God wants.
Two boys in Haiti serving their community.
God wants us to show his love to all of creation. That means putting others first. As we have spoken about before, Jesus said the greatest commandment is love God and the second greatest is love your neighbor. So we are called to service and in Mark 8 Jesus tells his followers they must “deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”
So what does it mean to be a servant? We must humble ourselves before God and others, deny ourselves, and look for needs in the world!
Needs are everywhere. There are local needs, there are global needs. Ask yourself the question – How can I be used by God to meet these needs? What if I devoted myself to serving others and sharing the love of Christ? Can you imagine the difference it would make if we all allowed God to work in this way?
Think both locally and globally! How can you show God’s love to your immediate community? Then think globally, how can you make an impact there? If you allow him to, God will use you to do mighty things!
What is the Gasp Effect? Ernest Smith, the pastor of the college/20somethings ministry at Seacoast Church delivered a powerful message Thursday night about the Church being the bride of Christ. He spoke about weddings and in the moment when the bride first appears – everyone gasps. So he asked, do people gasp when they see us? Are we actually living out the whole gospel and serving the downtrodden? When we are, it is in those moments that our marriage to Christ is truly realized and has the gasp effect.
I had never really thought about my walk with Christ in that way before. How often do I actual have the gasp effect? How often am I truly living out the gospel of Christ, bringing hope to the hopeless, and spreading the good news? Is it alright to participate for just two hours on the weekend, in a service project in your community? Does that get my “live out the gospel” box checked off for the week?
Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Phillipians 1:27
Is it possible to live a life so transformed by God’s love that every moment reflects that relationship? What would that mean for how you spend your time and money? What about how you plan your future?
What would it mean to truly serve those who are affected by the disaster in Haiti?
What about the almost 1 billion people who lack safe water, or are all those dying in the third world from treatable, preventable diseases? What about your next door neighbor who recently lost his job?
Join me in thinking about these questions.