Today, almost 2,000 children will die from dirty, disease-filled water. In the time it takes you to read these two pages, five more children will die from preventable waterborne diseases. Every year sixty-million children are born into households that do not have clean water and sanitation.
Water + Gospel = Transformation
Water is a basic human need. But in much of the world access to clean safe drinking water is hard to come by. Could a cup of cold water, in the name of Jesus, be used to help transform communities? Done well, we think so. But it may not be as simple as it seems.
This Month's Articles
At any one time, half the hospital beds in the world are filled with people suffering from water-related diseases—diseases that are responsible for 2.2 million deaths each year. Children are particularly vulnerable; diarrhea caused by poor water and sanitation is the number one killer of children under the age of five in sub-Saharan Africa. The health impact of poor water access may be the most obvious impact, but there is much more.
Much of my career has been focused on implementing WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) programs in three African countries and consulting on others in Asia and Latin America. I have observed that many Christian implementers of WASH programming truly want to integrate their efforts with the gospel. But it is not always clear how that should look. As a result, my journey has led me to explore spiritual intentionality beyond simply adding spiritual components to water programs.
WASH is the aspect of development that has the most direct causal influence on all the rest: health, education, economic poverty, food security, gender equality, environmental sustainability. The list goes on. Every time I visit partner churches and communities to assess WASH projects, I am struck by the way water and sanitation affect peoples’ dignity—particularly women, children, and the elderly.
When it comes to powerful impact, it’s hard to beat investing in water—it can dramatically improve quality of life, strengthen the local church, and help people experience the gospel. But not all giving opportunities in clean water are created equal, and where you give matters. The sad truth is that one third or more of clean water projects fail prematurely, some in the first few months, and many are never repaired. Effective work in clean water involves more than engineering, and by asking a few key questions you can not only ensure that your investment has the impact you want it to have but may also help the organizations you support grow in healthy ways.
It has been said that because the gospel is a message of hope, the poorest must see some concrete reason for hope before they can understand the gospel. Words themselves have no power if they do not refer to reality. Jesus’ words were constantly accompanied and informed by the actions to which His words referred. Thus, just as faith without works is dead, so evangelism without works is dead. It would seem, then, that just as we believe that works ought to follow faith in the sequence of salvation in the life of believing individuals, it is equally true that in our outreach to unbelievers those very works displaying God’s glory better precede.
The search for norm-breakers was a biblical pattern in the gospels and Acts. I believe that the gospels and Acts are like a sports highlights recap. When you watch the highlights, what do you see? The dribbles? The huddles? No! You see the abnormal ten percent of the game. In the Bible we most often see the abnormal people, not the 80-90% that may not have responded. Jesus was constantly looking for such people.When you find an abnormal person, if you follow-up abnormally, a movement may result. This is a biblical pattern.
At the Finish the Task (FTT) annual conference held in California, December 2012, the following question was raised by Paul Eshleman and subsequently commissioned which resulted in...Read The Full Article
In 1987 Ndlovu was just beginning ministry to his own people, the Tonga, after he became a Christian miles away to the south. The Tonga existed by fishing in Lake Kariba or subsistence farming, doing battle with wild elephants for the privilege of eating the crops. By the time the first missionaries arrived to Ndlovu's home, later that year, he had already built a church building out of local materials in the local style. Yet he had never completed the first grade in school. His story supplies some abiding principles that apply to church planting among spiritualists.
In 2006, the late Avery Willis, former vice president of the Southern Baptist’s International Mission Board and founder of the International Orality Network, stood before 40 missionaries in northern Iraq and began his talk by saying, “For forty years I did it wrong.” I was amazed. I had no idea what orality was and didn’t really care. I had simply come to the seminar to hear Avery Willis. He was one of the biggest names in missions and yet here was Avery beginning his presentation saying he had done it wrong for 40 years! Without exception Avery had our attention.
When Dr. Ralph D. Winter died, there were some 900 boxes or file cabinets of materials. Many of them were archival materials of the USCWM or the WCIU—which Ralph and Roberta Winter also founded. Over the past few years, we have culled that material down, and are officially announcing the establishment of the Ralph D. Winter Research Center. This is a joint ministry of the USCWM and WCIU. It will house Winter’s books and archives, material from Donald McGavran archives and his library as well as several other collections.