November 15, 2007 Volume 21, Number 17
SPOTLIGHT ON MISSION
Living Water Canada addresses global need
"We're there to drill a well in the name of Christ"
TORONTO, ONTurn on the tap and take a drink. It's a common enough practice in Canada. But for many people around the world, the action is akin to drinking poison. Water can be a silent killer.
Many poor households in developing countries are forced to rely on contaminated water for their daily needs. According to the United Nations and the World Health Organization, 80 per cent of diseases in developing nations stem from consumption of and exposure to unsafe water, which kills more than 25,000 people each day.
Living Water Canada wants to see a drastic drop in those statistics.
An arm of Living Water International (LWI), Living Water Canada was established in 2004 as a non-profit, interdenominational Christian service ministry. Its primary purpose is to demonstrate God's love by providing clean, safe watermainly through drilling water wellsto people in developing countries where there is a high rate of death and illness due to waterborne disease.
LWI consults with local ministry leaders and national organizations to holistically address community needs, from participation in the actual drilling process to providing health and hygiene training. They also hire local workers and purchase in-country supplies and materials whenever possible, creating jobs and additional income to further benefit the community at large.
Living Water teams share a message of hope about the "living water" Jesus offers, often handing out Bibles, holding dedication services and attending local church services. In some countries, the Jesus film is shown.
But drilling the well itself can speak louder than outright evangelism, says Living Water Canada president Barry Hart.
"Francis of Assisi said 'Preach the gospel every day. If necessary, use words.' Locals know it's a Christian group drilling the well. That's a testimony. We're there to drill a well in the name of Christ."
Living Water International drills roughly 600 wells each year in 24 countries across the globe. It has also become one of the largest faith-based water providers on the international scene, often drilling wells for other like-minded ministries.
Although wells can cost an estimated $2,500 to $5,000 each, Hart says Canadians don't hesitate to open their wallets and get involved. "No one flinches when you talk about water. It crosses denominational, racial and cultural barriers," he says.
The challenge, he says, is to encourage ongoing support of well-drilling projects. "It's incumbent upon us to really 'help until it hurts,'" he says. "It's a needy world out there."
Volunteers can also participate in Living Water's Central American projects during eight-day short-term mission trips. Most recently a Canadian team helped drill the second of two new wells for a tiny Nicaraguan village that was rebuilt after deadly mudslides in 1998 buried the original homes.
"The local people are wonderful. When we left, it was teary," says Hart. "We went to Nicaragua to give, but ended up getting back more. It's a win-win for everybody. When you come home and take a shower and don't have to worry about the water being clean...you become aware of the blessings we have here."