“Good words will not give my people good health and stop them from dying. Good words will not get my people a home where they can live in peace and take care of themselves. I am tired of talk that comes to nothing. It makes my heart sick when I remember all the good words and broken promises.”
– Chief Joseph, Nez Perce
“I am tired of fighting,” he said. “Our chiefs are killed. Looking Glass is dead. Toohoolhoolzote is dead. The old men are all dead. It is the young men who say, ‘Yes’ or ‘No.’ He who led the young men [Olikut] is dead. It is cold, and we have no blankets. The little children are freezing to death. My people, some of them, have run away to the hills, and have no blankets, no food. No one knows where they are—perhaps freezing to death. I want to have time to look for my children, and see how many of them I can find. Maybe I shall find them among the dead. Hear me, my chiefs! I am tired. My heart is sick and sad. From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever.”
FOR MANY IN ASIA – AND AROUND THE WORLD – SAFE, CLEAN WATER IS HARD TO COME BY. Confined to stagnant ponds, filthy rivers and rusty wells, people struggle daily with water-borne illnesses. They don’t know much about hygiene, and they have no idea what’s causing their premature deaths. We can help them!
• 2.2 million people in developing countries, most of them children, die every year from diseases associated with inadequate sanitation, poor hygiene and a lack of safe drinking water.
• Half of the world’s hospital beds are filled with people suffering from water-related illnesses.
• In the past 10 years, diarrhea has killed more children than all the people lost to armed conflict since World War II.
Wait, that bears repeating …
• In the past 10 years, diarrhea has killed more children than all the people lost to armed conflict since World War II!
• Despite the size of the problem, we have made little progress against it. There were only 181 million fewer people living without safe drinking water in rural settings in 2004 (899 million) vs. 1990 (1.08 billion)*1.
• Fifty percent of people on earth lack adequate sanitation. Another way to look at it: Nearly half of the world’s population fails to receive the level of water services available 2,000 years ago to the citizens of ancient Rome!
• Water-related illnesses are the leading cause of human sickness and death on the planet.
STATISTICS, STATISTICS, STATISTICS and more statistics! If you haven’t allowed these facts to touch you and move you, then these statistics are useless numbers, pointless facts and a futile attempt to grab your heart to the point where you experience a visceral reaction, and respond.
How should we respond to this overwhelming need? What can we realistically do that will help make a difference in people’s lives?
For starters, you can go HERE to learn more about the issue and see just how easy it is to personally help solve the problem. This is a HUGE issue, however, and it needs many solutions. There is no one way to fix it, and it will take many people many years to turn the tide.
We in the west rarely think about the clean water that we enjoy so freely. It hardly ever hits us that we are very, very privileged to be able to turn on the tap and drink what comes out, or stand under a warm stream of fresh water in our shower for 20-30 minutes, or flush our toilets an extra time or two (just to make sure), or grab our garden hose whenever we want and wash the car(s), or water the lawn or flowers or bird bath.
This reminds me of a trip I took to Haiti in 1986 with a group of guys, where we worked up in a mountain village to help build an addition to a schoolhouse. There was no water available for showers or bathing, except for a scarce amount to wash our faces at night. We were doing hard labor in 90-100 degree temps, so you know we were sweaty and stinky. It got to the point where we finally just fit in with our Haitian friends, because we didn’t smell like soap or deodorant anymore. We smelled like, well … us! One of my friends (you know who you are, Chuck) was really moved by the lack of water, and what the local people suffered as a result. He vowed he would never again take clean, fresh, hot water for granted, and I’ll bet a day doesn’t go by that he doesn’t thank God for his water.
There may be no way to truly understand the suffering of people with little clean water, without going to some of these places and experiencing it for ourselves. But how many of us can do that? Very few, I imagine. What we can do, though, is educate our minds and hope that some of that education sinks down into our hearts, where God can then use it. Then we can get involved with initiatives like Gospel for Asia’s Jesus Wells and http://blueplanetnetwork.org/. We can at least do that, can’t we?
This article is not meant as a guilt trip, but merely a reminder that we who have plenty DO have a responsibility to care for those who have very little. The least we can do is send money to an organization like Gospel for Asia, who then sends 100% of your gift to work in the field. I don’t believe you can get a better return on what God has blessed you with. Now it’s up to you.
“But if any one has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?”
I John 3:17