Everyone should have access to clean water wherever they live in the world. It’s a basic need that we require to survive and thrive.
But millions of people don’t have that access and that is a challenge to the church: Should we respond to this huge need for clean water or see it as not our problem?
At BMS World Mission, we cannot ignore it. We believe in not only sharing God’s love with the most marginalized and least evangelized people but also helping to meet their basic needs so they know God cares about their day-to-day lives as well as their souls.
Over the last year, we have been able to help two communities in Africa and Peru access clean water and have been a powerful witness at the same time.
United Kingdom Christians enabled us to provide a rainwater tank to a village in northern Uganda.
Before, mothers had to walk for three hours to collect river water so that their children had something to drink.
Now every time it rains, families in Musyenene and surrounding villages can access up to 10,000 liters of water.
This is not only saving time but it’s also improving the health of local people.
Asumini Namatovu, a mother of five, says that the water tank has helped her family a lot.
“My children are now healthy. They are drinking safe water,” she said. “I send a lot of thanks to the people who gave us this tank because for a long time people did not have water and were suffering.”
Musyenene Baptist Church, which is the custodian of the water tank, is also noticing a change. Pastor Kasoro Tadeo, who leads the church, says that the tank has opened up opportunities for him to meet new people and invite them in.
As a result of supplying free, no-strings-attached water, the church has welcomed more people into the family.
Across the world in Peru, BMS has led a water project to give access to clean, running water to a community in the Amazon region.
Providing running water for the community of La Union, where the BMS-supported Nauta Integral Mission Training Centre (NIMTC) is based, has been a plan-in-the-making for almost seven years.
In 2010, a lack of water was identified as the most significant problem in the neighborhood.
Now, 60 families (approximately 360 people) are celebrating turning their taps on twice a day to receive a flow of running water.
Each family played their part in the project, contributing to the cost of the pipe and tap that would run water directly to their homes and digging the trenches to install the pipes.
“That’s part of the point,” said BMS mission worker Laura-Lee Lovering. “It’s a community project, and they were always meant to take ownership of it and realize it’s a project for them, by them.”
Before the taps were installed, many families in La Union were getting their water from shallow wells behind their houses.
Spells of diarrhea and vomiting were common among the children of the community; testing the water of one of these wells showed high levels of contamination.
Now that clean water is running to each property, such health risks have been reduced greatly.
“It’s a real relief and I’m just really happy,” Lovering said, “because it’s such a clear need, and it makes such a difference.”
Many in La Union had grown used to empty promises and thought this water project would never happen. They now know that Christians at NIMTC hold true to their word. As well as meeting a vital physical need, this running water has become a powerful witness to the living water.
These two examples show that when the church takes access to clean water seriously, people take the church seriously.
Editor’s note: This article is part of a series for World Water Day 2017 (March 22) focused on Baptist initiatives to provide clean water around the world.
Previous articles in the series are: