Increasing Number of Churches Are Getting Involved With Clean Water Ministry

Clean water is increasingly seen as a spiritual and environmental issue. (Living Water International photo)
Clean water is increasingly seen as a spiritual and environmental issue. (Living Water International photo)

Water, it seems, is all the rage.

Experts say the demand for global mission projects focused on providing clean water has become unquenchable as churches increasingly see water as one of the most efficient means of meeting physical and spiritual needs.

Also driving the trend have been efforts by a wide range of players to promote the connection between meeting those needs and the spreading of the gospel. In the process, congregations and individuals who have become involved in water-providing ministries see their impact goes beyond water to their own spiritual transformation.

‘A basic human right’
Boiled down to its essence, water is becoming the great unifier in world missions, said David Harding, coordinator for international disaster response for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.

“People can identify with the need for water,” Harding said. “When people learn of other people drinking contaminated water, they think ‘how can we allow that?’”

CBF has focused much of its water missions efforts through disaster response because the lack of safe water is seen as a quiet-but-deadly crisis, Harding said.

Interest among U.S. churches has tended to come across the political and denominational spectrum, Harding added, when groups see the impact for themselves.

“People are coming to see clean water as a basic human right.”

‘Raising awareness’
Driving that view of water have been a number of developments over the past 20-30 years, including a United Nations-driven initiative in the 1990s to combat global sanitation and unsafe drinking issues.

The attention raised by the UN got a lot of churches’ and ministries’ attention, said Paul Darilek, senior director of communications for Living Water International, a Texas-based ministry that oversees water projects in 23 nations.

“That raised awareness that water is the first step in all development,” he said. “The world recognized that and got excited about that.”

The more recent popularity of anti-consumerism Advent Conspiracy project, which encourages participants to contribute to missions in lieu of Christmas gifts, has helped direct even more money and energy into water-based ministries, Darilek said.

That project and the efforts of ministries like Living Water then helped individuals and groups see that a host of other human needs can eventually be met by first addressing clean-water issues, Darilek said.

Once water is flowing in communities that before didn’t have it, crops and animals can be nurtured, which in turn may help improve local diets. Some villages may charge money for access in order to finance water system maintenance, and from those efforts local economies can become self-sustaining.

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SOURCE: Associated Baptist Press
Jeff Brumley

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