Today I would like to focus on the flip side of yesterday’s discussion about hunger (see “Our Daily Bread”) and take a look at thirst. Clean water is something we easily take for granted in well developed countries. We can simply turn the faucet on at any time of the day or night and get a refreshing drink. This is not the case for nearly a billion people on our planet. While it is essential for health and life, access to clean water remains elusive or impossible for far too many people.
There are some rather startling statistics about water. According to TheWaterProject.org, at any given moment, half of the world’s hospital beds are filled with patients suffering from a water-borne illness; one out of every four deaths of children under the age of five are due to water-related disease; women in developing countries must walk several miles to gather water, and return carrying a jug weighing close to fifty pounds. Meanwhile in America, we average consuming thirty gallons of bottled water per person each year (NPR). While 25% of children under the age of five die because of the lack of clean water, we have been unmoved. In America there seems to be more concern about obtaining the purest water with the utmost of convenience rather than for those who have no access to water whatsoever.
Jesus said that all who thirst should come to Him (John 7:37-38). He was using the importance of water as a metaphor for what is required for life. There is no spiritual life without Christ, and there is no physical life without water. Recognizing this need, Jesus commanded His followers to give a drink to those who were thirsty (Matthew 25:31-46). Just as feeding the hungry was put forth as a stipulation to demonstrate our love for Him, so too is providing water for the thirsty. If we love Jesus, we will do what He tells us to do; we will provide clean water for those who thirst.
As followers of Christ, we must do what we can to provide clean drinking water to those in need. Persecution Project’s “100 Wells Campaign” is striving to provide water to the people of Jaac, Sudan. Many of the people in this region have come there due to the genocide in Darfur. The area cannot support the growing population, so more water is needed to sustain life and prevent disease. Living Water International has completed 9,000 water projects in 26 countries and shows no signs of slowing down. These are two charities with which I have had personal experience and recommend without hesitation. Consider making it a priority to financially support those who are in the field delivering water to dry and barren places.
On a local level, you can always distribute bottled water to the poor and homeless in your community. During the summer months, it is easy for those who live outdoors to quickly become dehydrated. Your simple act of kindness in giving them something to drink may lead to the opportunity to share the love of Jesus with them. Who knows what impact you may have on their life by being the hands and feet of Jesus?
Every time you take a drink of water, try to remember those who do not have such a luxury. Pray for them and for the ministries that are actively working to overcome the problem. Consider ways you might be able to help, either financially or through volunteering. Jesus said those who give water to the thirsty are blessed and will be welcomed into His presence. If we turn our back on those in need, we are deliberately rejecting the instructions of Christ. True followers will do what He told us to do. Give someone a drink, in the name of Jesus today. Refresh their spirit and take pleasure in being His hands and feet to the thirsty. The Kingdom of God is revealed one cup of water at a time.