USA (MNN) — There are 1.2 billion people who don't have access to clean, safe drinking water. The World Health Organization reports every year there are 1.6 million deaths due to unsafe water, sanitation and hygiene. That's nearly 4,500 people every day.
President of Lifewater International, Dan Stevens, says with so many people without water, Christians have a responsibility to help. "If we have access, and somebody else doesn't have access, then if God calls us to be His agents and we're not doing anything about it, then in some ways we're discriminating against the 'have-nots.'"
Lifewater's Pat Klever say they're helping prevent further ethnic and religious tensions "by providing participatory trainings that allow community members to come together and sit as a group, taking time to sort out their own issues and their own problems. This allows people to have a voice that they may not otherwise have in their communities."
Stevens says working with the local church is vital. "As we work with a church and help them involve the community, we help them realize that water is a human right – not just for the church people, but for the whole village. And the village then understands God's love by the water that is provided through the work of the church."
According to Klever, they not only establish water supplies for churches, but they've even provided wells for Muslim communities. As they do, she says the locals begin asking questions. "'Why are you doing this for us?' We are able to share Jesus' love for everyone. I think the kind of impact that Lifewater and its partners are able to have in the world is just a tremendous witness to what God is calling us to do."
Twenty-four dollars can help one person receive clean, safe water. However, Steven says it's more than just drilling a well. "You don't just put a well in the ground and make things better. Community development around water and sanitation is critical, and that takes time."
That time allows for relationship-building, which in turn provides opportunities for evangelism.
Volunteers are needed to help train nationals to do the work.