Water is life’s most basic need. Yet nearly 1 billion people lack access to clean, life-giving, safe water. That’s about one in every eight people. In the places where Clear Blue Global Water Project works, it’s more like one in two.
At the end of 2006 and early into 2007, I felt a prompting in my spirit to pray for water needs as I prayed around the world. As it always is, when we pray for someone or something, our hearts begin to stretch and our compassion grows. I began looking for online information and books. At that time, interest in the water shortage was not nearly as widespread as today, but I saw in particular two pictures from a prize-winning photographer in Sudan that gripped my heart. I couldn’t sleep as I replayed the pictures of these two starving, thirsty children about the same age as my own sons. My sons were strong and vital athletes; these boys were nothing but skin taut over bones, with vultures waiting to devour what was left as soon as the slight movements stopped.
I called Free Methodist World Missions and asked for information about where we could send money for a well and who needed it most. The director told me there were so many needs in missions that we didn’t have anyone specifically working on that, but he was sure an African country was most likely. He directed me to Dr. Henry Church, African area director.
Church told me the needs were overwhelming everywhere, but he would suggest a village in Malawi, one of the world’s most impoverished nations. Feeling overwhelmed, I prepared to preach about our responsibility to share the Living Water and physical water in Jesus’ name. Honestly, I doubted my direction a bit, because what we could do for an ocean of need would simply be a drop in the bucket. At the end of the message, our people responded with fervor, raising money for 11 wells in 30 days.
The story of what God began to do in Malawi is nothing short of a miracle. Since General Conference 2007, other Free Methodist churches have partnered with us to do many more wells in Malawi, now totaling more than 40. In 2010, the government of Malawi honored Clear Blue and missionary Ryan Willson, the point person for all the projects there, saying we had provided more wells in that time for villages than their government had been able to do.
Since then, through churches, schools, businesses, families and individuals, Clear Blue has raised more than $1 million for water projects in more than two dozen countries. Those drops in the bucket from many, many people keep adding up. It’s a good thing, because the need remains monumental.
In 2014, half the world’s hospital beds are filled with people suffering from a water-related disease. Many more never have access to a hospital. Every 19 seconds, a mother loses a child from lack of safe drinking water. That’s not all. The lack of water affects not just health but productivity, natural resources and abilities. In many places, women and children walk three or more hours a day just to gather water. The trip is dangerous, and the water is usually dirty when they get there. Every drop carries disease and leads to diarrhea, dehydration and often death. But they have no choice — no choice until someone brings hope.
Hope most often comes in the form of a well in the middle of a village, its silver and blue pump rising up to give life and future to those who come to experience it. Sometimes it comes in the form of a water fountain system, connecting villages with access to crystal clear water from life-giving mountain streams, like those done in India with Bishop John Gollapalli. Sometimes hope arrives with the completion of a hospital system, like Umri Hospital in India or Kibuye Hospital in Burundi.
The clean safe water restores hours to each day for adults to experience productive labor and opportunities for children to be educated. Crops can grow, and productivity increases across the board. Freedom from related threats like human-trafficking decrease, because the people have options for survival. The health of persons, families and entire communities improves instantly. Water changes everything.
Admittedly, these are huge needs. What you can do may seem like a drop in the bucket. You can only do $20 a month? That’s a drop that will ripple for a lifetime, because $20 will pay one person’s share in a village well for a lifetime. You will change 12 persons’ lives in one year!
The average cost of a Clear Blue well is $5,500. A well in India can usually be done for $1,500, but African wells may go as high as $17,000. Hospital systems may be $40,000, but many drops together can meet even this need.
None of us has the power to change everything alone, but we have the power to work together to change more than we can imagine. As poet Julia Carney wrote in 1845:
“Little drops of water,
Little grains of sand,
Make the mighty ocean,
And the pleasant land.
And the little moments,
Humble though they may be,
Make the mighty ages of eternity.”
We can each add our drop. We need your drop. It’s an important drop.
If you take one little moment and make your gift, together we will change someone’s world, because water changes everything. Make your drop. Check us out at clearblueproject.com. You can make your donation as directed there, or through Free Methodist World Missions. Our theme for World Water Day — March 22, 2014 — and for the entire year is “A Drop in the Bucket.” You can find printable resources and videos on our website to help you observe this day.
DISCUSSION: Do you take clean water for granted?  Are you or your local church doing anything to help people who lack access to safe drinking water? 0