A Thirsty Land by Chris Kirby
What’s the most desperate you’ve ever been for water? Have you ever gone a full day without something to drink? What’s the furthest you’ve gone to get water? What’s the dirtiest water you’ve ever had to drink? When is the last time you had to worry about where your water would come from? Take a second and do an exercise for me. What are all the ways you use water in an average week? The list gets pretty long doesn’t it? And yet, we almost never “worry” about water in Indy. There are places in our country where they worry about water. For instance, there is currently a 3rd water tunnel being built from Lake Mead (formed by Hoover Dam) to insure water for Las Vegas because the lake levels may soon slip below the current intake pipes. There is a pipeline being contemplated to divert water from the Missouri River to Denver (that’s 600 miles!) to ease the stress on the Colorado River. Georgia is disputing that their border with Tennessee should be shifted north to the 35th Parallel. According to Georgia, it was incorrectly surveyed a mile too far south in 1818. Why worry about a strip of land 200 years later? The Tennessee River, that’s why. By shifting the line north (or settling for a small strip of land to Nickajack Lake), Georgia could access the river and divert billions of gallons of water via pipeline to Atlanta, which has future water concerns due to extreme population growth.
The consequences of these droughts and overuse are frustrating and even scary. The effects range from limiting water usage for things like watering lawns and recreation to much more serious threats. There are forest fires in portions of the West that are normally too wet for fires. Meat prices increase when cattle have to be thinned in Texas. Fields sit idle, dried, and desolate rather than producing crops to feed people. The consequences of droughts have a ripple effect too. Food prices nationwide increase when California can’t plant and grow healthy crops. Remember our drought a couple of years ago? The price of corn and everything dependent on corn increased. Areas downstream from big cities suffer shortages of water when rivers are overused. There are serious ramifications that raise big concerns.
However, the majority of kids in the direst drought situations in America walked to their sinks, pulled up on the facet, and brushed their teeth this morning after taking a shower. Their parents brewed a pot of coffee to survive the morning and probably poured out the leftovers in the afternoon. Throughout the day at school, they used the restroom, washed their hands (hopefully), and stopped by the water fountain for a swig to refill the ole’ bladder. In the afternoon, when they fell and scraped a knee, mom took them inside, cleaned it off in the tub, put a bandage and a kiss on it and headed to kitchen to boil spaghetti for dinner. But that’s not true around the world. Today, there will be thousands of children who die just because they don’t have clean water for drinking, sanitation, or growing ample food. Millions of people will spend all day transporting water by foot. Many times the water source is completely unsuitable sources. You and I wouldn’t dream of drinking from these cesspools shared with livestock, muck, and trash producing terrible toxins and illness. That’s sometimes the only option for folks in certain places on the globe. Many times, it is children doing the job of transporting water. Therefore, education is skipped all together. It’s difficult to find time to walk 7 miles round trip several times a day to get water and sit in math class, you know?
I could go on about the consequences of this dire situation, but I will stop here. Why share at all? It’s a bit of a bummer to write about. I’m sure it’s a downer to read about this issue that we don’t face every day. It’s not a feel good story. However, I think we are called to be aware of issues like this. In fact, we are called to aware AND to take action. In one of our recently young adult Tuesday night groups we discussed James 1 and spent quite a bit of time discussing verse 27-
27 - Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
We are called to live out an active and vibrant faith fueled by compassion for those who are most vulnerable. Orphans and widows are obviously part of that group in many societies even today. However, I believe the primary point of this passage is to remind us that as true disciples of Jesus Christ we are called to hold up all people who are not in a position to support themselves. We are called to inject hope where there is despair. We are called to be advocates for those with no voice. We are called to provide resources for those who are in need. We are called to protect those who are defenseless. We are called to do something that matters in the world. Quite simply, we are called to interject the heartbeat of Jesus in places that desperately need life.
The world has lots of terrible examples of false religion to choose from. Oppression comes from the powerful in many religious settings. In some circles, hatred flows from the mouths of preachers about those who they disagree with. People of faith will debate what caused poverty while children die from the consequences. In even more extreme cases of false religion, hatred spills over into violence. It’s not new. These atrocities in the name of religion are old as time. It’s no wonder that religion is viewed so negatively in our culture. That makes it even more pressing that we carry out the call to be ambassadors of the gospel to those who are in need. The world needs to see faith in action so Jesus can be witnessed as he intended. It’s not enough to see the need of the weak and turn a blind eye, debate its causes, or political ramifications. If we are going to carry the name of Christ, we must be genuine in portraying His nature to a watching world.
This is why the Youthreach went out a few weeks ago for a “Water Campaign”. We handed out bottles of water at White River State Park and Southeastway Park. Partly, we wanted to give water to thirsty people. However, there was also a website on the label with info about the great need for water around the globe and how to support those in most dire need. My hope is that every person who received a bottle went home, checked out the website, and donated money to build a well for a community in the developing world. By doing so, they would have saved lives of some of the most vulnerable in our world. In reality, I would see it as a victory if one person was educated and did something about it!
But, it’s not just about water. Ebola is breaking out and ravishing already poverty stricken corners of the world. Kent went and ministered to the most vulnerable through medical missions when he found himself in the middle of the outbreak. However, there are other ways to respond as well. Nicole and Samantha created a fundraising and awareness program to support those ministering on the front line to save lives. Our food pantry sees the hungry and underserved in our community and provides food. Our children’s homes provide safe haven for kids who may not find it anywhere else. Others in our church serve the homeless in our city. There are ministries that serve those who are abused. We could list more. Here’s the point: I hope we will continue have open eyes to those who are the most vulnerable, both at home and around the globe, and then have the compassion to bring the light of hope into the dark situations created by need, hurt, and uncertainty.
For More Information-
Visit Living Water International at www.water.cc to find out more about the need for water around the world and how you can help.
Visit the www.pray-for-ebola.com site to order a shirt if you haven’t done so yet. Funds support Samaritan Purse’s efforts in Liberia.