International (MNN) — What if you could give up something for Lent and change lives at the same time?
"Why not give up something during this season of Easter, and give that money for safe water for the world with organizations like India Partners?" asks Dan Stevens with Waiting For Water.
"Easter is a great time for Christians to come together and give safe water in Christ's name, because Easter's a time for compassion and understanding what God's done for us."
Together with seven other groups, including India Partners and Living Water International, Waiting for Water mobilizes Christ-followers to fight the global water crisis during the Lenten and Easter seasons. They encourage you to use the money from something you're giving up for Lent to give safe water in Jesus' name.
For example, let's say your morning coffee costs $4.00 and you decide to give it up for Lent. That's approximately $180 you could set aside for a water ministry. In fact, $155 provides water and sanitation training for an entire village in India.
"If somebody just gave up their Starbucks (and I know that's painful), but God gave up a lot more for us," says Stevens. "If every Christian in the world gave $10…there would be enough money to give everybody a drink of safe water and Living Water [all] over the world."
Stevens says Waiting For Water chose to mobilize Christians during the Easter season because it's a time of remembering what Christ did for us on the cross.
When Lent began with the early church, "There was a time of preparation…and often giving up something to remind themselves of what God gave up for them to come to the earth and die on the cross," explains Stevens.
"We're just trying to encourage people to think about that season and do something that is compassionate. Easter is a launch pad to do compassionate [works] locally and globally."
The need for Christ's compassion is vast in our world today. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), over 3.4 million people die each year from causes related to water, sanitation, and hygiene. Nearly all of those deaths occur in the developing world.
"75-80% of all hospital beds in the developing world are occupied by people with waterborne diseases," says Stevens. "A child the age of those little children that were killed in Sandy Hook dies every 20 seconds from a water-related disease."
While the crisis may seem overwhelming, Stevens says it is solvable.
"I think some people think, 'Well it's just never going to go away.' But if we would focus and do just one little thing, it will make a difference," he states. "That's why we're focusing on Easter and saying, 'Okay, let's make Easter the season where Christians around the world solve the global water problem.'"
In the meantime, pray.
"We need to pray and have our hearts broken over, and over, and over again for the poor of the world who are suffering, whose little children are dying every single day," Stevens says.
"Pray that our hearts would be broken, that we would grow in our compassion for the world, that we would seek justice and mercy, and that God's compassion would roll down like Living Water for the poor."