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.
34Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question:
36“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37Jesus replied: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[b] 38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[c] 40All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Who is our neighbor? Recently, I have been reading “The Hole in our Gospel” by Richard Stearns. He talks for awhile about the two greatest commandments of our faith. This got my mind thinking on the topic of neighbors. Who is my neighbor? What does it mean to be a neighbor? It is interesting to me that immediately after loving God, comes loving your neighbor. One thing’s for sure; we’d better know to whom we are responsible for loving.
Of course, Jesus addresses this question with the parable of the Good Samaritan. A man is beaten up and left on the side of the road; people walk by him and sure enough the person who ends up helping him is the one least expected. The Samaritan stopped and cared for the Jew. At the end of the story, Jesus asks:
36“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
37The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
What is this passage saying? That we choose our neighbors or that all people are our neighbors? Do we choose to act, or not act like a neighbor?
Here we have two people groups that hated one another. Throughout history there have always been comparisons to this story – two groups of people that are perceived as polar opposites. What do you think are some modern day comparisons? In our minds, choosing to love someone you hate or is completely different from you seems completely illogical. But, this is what Jesus calls us to do.
These passages point to an important truth. God wants us to love others, radically.
I live in Charleston, SC. I could hop on a plane, and be in rural Kenya in a matter of hours. I could pick up the phone and call there in seconds. In our modern day, not only are the people who inhabit the house next to mine my neighbors, but those who live a life of poverty in far off countries. God is constantly expanding my worldview. This is a big neighborhood.
God is changing the world through water. By delivering the most important human need, doors are being opened to get the Gospel in.
Everyone needs it – the body can survive without food for about 30-40 days, but without water, the body can only survive about 5 days. People need to drink water, it can’t be avoided, because of this waterborne diseases are the world’s most prominent killers. They hide in what you need the most, a cup, bucket, lake, well, or stream of water.
Thanks to the efforts of many organizations across the country that work to provide safe water, the gospel is being spread.
Bibles and Christians are entering countries they never could before.
In one of the projects that Water Missions International sent a water system to for disaster relief – a previously Hindu man recently asked for a bible and has started witnessing to others. Not only is he witnessing to people within his own ethnic group but also to members of the opposing party! Christ coming into this man’s life is breaking down the barriers of years of political conflict!
It is amazing how God breaks down walls and opens doors when you serve him. His love overcomes even the fiercest of ethnic divisions, and can spread to the hardest to reach areas.
By meeting a basic physical need, spiritual needs are being met. What an amazing blessing and challenge! Let us continue to work diligently, using our unique gifts to craft creative solutions to the water crisis!
As we talk about the global water crisis and all that is taking place around the world. Let’s take a minute to look at what it actually means to be thirsty.
Taken from dictionary.com
|1.||feeling or having thirst; craving liquid.|
|2. needing moisture, as land; parched; dry or arid: the thirsty soil.|
|3.||eagerly desirous; eager: thirsty for news.|
|4.||causing thirst: Digging is thirsty work.|
We’ve all seen pictures of people dying due to lack of water in Sub Saharan Africa. Lack of water means lack of food – it means lack of vegetation, which means no meat either. Can we ever understand what it means to desire water the way they do? To truly crave liquid, that even just a drop would be the greatest blessing?
The question is this – what then, are we thirsty for?
Do we desire God, and being in relationship with him the same way people crave water?
Psalm 42:1-2 says
“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. 2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?”
Donald Whitney said there are three types of spiritual thirst. Thirst of the empty soul, thirst of the dry soul, and thirst of the satisfied soul. The empty soul searches for meaning in life, and has not yet come to know the greatness of Christ. The dry soul has experienced Jesus, but at the moment is feeling disconnected and far from him. Finally, the satisfied soul is one that has an active relationship with our Savior and desires to grow further. Which are you? How can you go from being a dry or empty soul to being a SATISFIED soul? Acknowledge that you need the Lord, and THIRST for him. “Eagerly desire, CRAVE”
At all times, let us remember those that thirst for physical water, praying that not only their physical need would be met, but that they would thirst for Christ, and come to have a relationship with him.
Can you believe that the average person in the United States uses anywhere from 80-100 gallons of water per day? When someone takes a shower, a typical showerhead will emit 2.5 gpm (gallons per minute) of water, so if someone reduced their shower time from 10 minutes a day to 5 minutes a day they would use 87.5 gallons of water a week. It is hard to come to terms with the amount of fresh drinkable water that we in America use every day, while others around the world suffer from a lack of it.
Let’s look at all the different ways American’s use water on a daily basis. We take showers, wash our hands, do the dishes, wash dirty clothes, use the toilet and water our lawns. The striking factor is this – the water in our toilet bowls is cleaner than the drinking water in many communities worldwide. Meanwhile, close to half of all people in developing countries suffer at any given time from a health problem caused by water and sanitation deficits. (globalissues.org) What if we decided to cut back our water use, and with the additional household savings, chose to partner with an organization that is working towards providing clean water to those in need? Check out this website for tips on using less water. http://www.americanwater.com/49ways.htm. What will you do? Respond with how YOU could use less water!
Here are some stats taken off the Water Missions International website – that show the immensity of this crisis. (www.watermissions.org)
Statistics Say It All
One out of every eight people in the world, roughly 884 million, lacks access to safe water. (WHO/UNICEF)
At least 2.6 billion people, about 41 percent of the global population, do not have access to latrines or any sort of basic sanitation facilities. (UN WATER)
1.8 million children die every year as a result of diseases caused by unclean water and poor sanitation. This amounts to around 5000 deaths a day, one every 20 seconds. (UNDP)
According to a recent World Health Organization (WHO) study, every dollar spent on improving sanitation generates an average economic benefit of $7.
Water-related diseases caused by unsafe drinking water and inadequate sanitation remain humanity’s most serious public health threat, causing 90% of the sicknesses in developing countries. (WHO)
Providing water and hygiene education reduces the number of deaths caused by diarrhoeal diseases by an average of 65%. (WHO)
443 million school days are lost each year due to water-related diseases. (UNDP)
Worldwide, 18 percent of the population, or 1.2 billion people, rely on open defecation. (Unicef)
Every year, more than 200 million tons of human sewage goes uncollected and untreated, fouling the environment. Each gram of feces can contain 10 million virus particles, 1 million bacteria, 1,000 parasite cysts and 100 parasite eggs. (UN)
At any given time, half the population of the developing world is suffering from one or more of the main diseases associated with inadequate provision of water and sanitation. (UNDP)
The average North American uses more than 100 gallons of water each day, but the average person in the developing world uses less than three. (UNDP/WSSCC)
The story of the woman at the well found in John 4 is a wonderful story. I have heard countless messages on this story. I have used it many times in messages that I have given. BUT never, did I understand the simplicity and complexity of this story until I heard of it played out in a modern day context. There are hundreds of stories that I might have chosen to begin the What if the Church…? conversation, but this is where we will begin…
Melissa Stewart, an PHD student at the University of Florida, working as an intern for our ministry, Water Missions International, has a passion for Miraj, India and she a passion to bring safe water to people in need. Her father, a Cardiologist, has connections with a indigenous pastor who works in the red-light district of Miraj. Here, thousands of women and young children are held in bondage as sex slaves. There is no place to escape. This is their life. Life is hard…beyond our imagination… we simply cannot relate.
Shortly after completing her internship at Water Missions, Melissa went to see Miraj to understand the need better and to see what she could do. Her report does not “sugar coat” the difficulties facing us in this task. The needs are immense and the cultural boundaries seemingly make it almost impossible. Most disturbingly was the thought, that even if we can provide safe water, the sex-slave oppressors would control the distribution of the water. This is the reality of life for these women of Miraj…
BUT, this story has a tremendously wonderful twist. You see, as Melissa and others assessed the situation they had opportunity to share the story of John 4. The women of Mirage, prostitutes themselves, were fascinated by this story. Does this man Jesus still offer this LIVING WATER? Would this man, Jesus, once again, cross the cultural boundaries to offer this LIVING WATER to them? The fact was… that He just had..but this time through His followers.
So , in the midst of a tremendous evil, in lives of otherwise hopelessness, the search for physical drinking water had lead to this ultimately important question. Consider this, Melissa’s willingness to go and be a servant and to face the hard issues put her in a place to supply the single most important need to these women. Can you get your minds around this? In the midst of this evil and bondage, these women find freedom in Jesus Christ. He released them from the stain of the sin that their cultural prison has placed upon them. They may never be released from their oppressors. They may never be released from the evil things they are forced to do, but they are free! To another woman caught in adultery, Jesus told he to “go and sin no more”. To the women of the red-light district of Mirage, he cannot speak those words, so instead He says, ” I am there WITH you and I WILL NEVER LEAVE you.” This is hope! This is the reality they need to hear. This is freedom..but it does not end with that.
We believe Jesus expects us to work to break the physical bondage as well. He expects US, the Church to be His “boots on the ground” and do all we can.
There are 884 million people to work for. Millions of villages where we can meet needs. Millions of opportunities to speak the truth of the love, grace, and mercy of Jesus Christ that compels us to act.
Come join this conversation. Be ready to be moved and to MOVE.