The struggle for clean water isn’t specific to Africa. Water woes consume much of the developing world. In Honduras, as in every other region, children suffer the most. But in this community, people decided to do something about it.
Normally gregarious, Pedro Antonio Goday Sosa was miserable. Every day, he watched families slog down a muddy trail to the Hato River in eastern Honduras, their horses and wheelbarrows laden with empty plastic containers. Winding through the coffee and tobacco fields of the Jamastran Valley, the Hato River is shared by men, women, children, cows, horses, and pigs. It is filthy. The 70-year-old grandfather, known affectionately as Don Pedro, saw how drinking from the river was making people sick, and he was determined to stop it.
At a community meeting in 2016, Don Pedro’s frustration spilled over. He appealed to World Vision Project Manager Ruth Cardenas and World Vision Facilitator Noe Rodriguez, an expert in water and sanitation, on behalf of the children. He begged Noe and Ruth to find a solution to the problem. The Hato River was a plague on the 3,000 people who lived in two communities, Sartenejas and Zamorano.
Noe and Ruth consulted with World Vision’s water, sanitation, and hygiene staff at the national office in Tegucigalpa. They got good news. “Suddenly, the project was planned in the budget for 2018,” says Noe, “but only for drilling a well.” Don Pedro wasn’t satisfied. It wasn’t enough. Children were suffering.
Don Pedro knew the water crisis in Jamastran had to be fixed right away. But a permanent solution would only be possible if World Vision, two communities, and big-hearted donors united in a project orchestrated by God.
A Honduran community in crisis
Drinking dirty water affected all of life in Jamastran, creating perpetual health problems for children. “We found it was contaminated with Hepatitis A and poisons,” says Dr. Zulema Lopez, who blames the animals who drink and waste there and the pesticides that trickle into the river from the coffee and tobacco fields that provide residents with a meager income. “It’s normal to see children throwing up and expelling worms,” says Ana Lainez, the clinic’s nurse.
The clinic routinely treats children who are malnourished, suffering from diarrhea, and infected with cholera. Some damage can never be undone. “It affects their cognitive development,” says Dr. Zulema. If that’s not enough, the clinic gets its water from the very source of so much illness — the Hato River. Lips pursed, Nurse Ana opens the tap in the delivery room. Brown water runs out like tea steeped too long in a pot. “We can’t even wash our hands in it,” she says.
At the primary school, dirty river water is stored in a pila, a cement tank. The tank is so deep that the littlest students risk falling in when they scoop water. The school’s gentle janitor, Lionel Arriola, 44, worries for them. “Sometimes their thirst is so big they go to the pila and drink water,” he says. “One hour later, they are vomiting.”
Families suffered the most.
Every day, Johanna Hernandez, 23, would walk 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) — the average distance people in the developing world walk to get water for drinking, cooking, and cleaning — for dirty water. Three times a day, she would fill an old wheelbarrow with empty soda bottles and take her sons, David, 5, and Noe, 3, to the river. Shivering, she’d wade knee-deep into the cold, chocolate-colored water while the boys played in the sand on the bank.
Filling soda bottles, their once-cheerful labels peeling with wear, is both tedious and dangerous. Only a few months before, David was caught in the current, drifting out of his mother’s reach until a big rock stopped his path. “I was washing my clothes here,” she says. “He almost drowned.” David survived, a deep cut on his lip as a reminder of his brush with death.
Good news at last
World Vision staff in Jamastran worked tirelessly with the national office to move the project forward, spurred on by phone calls from Don Pedro. “He called me every day: breakfast, lunch, and dinner, morning, noon, and night,” says Noe. Noe lived in a constant state of agitation. The conflict with Don Pedro hurt his tender heart. Then came a break.
“Our colleagues [from the U.S.] came to visit,” says Noe. “We went to the river for them to see the community’s situation, and we saw that they were really moved by the suffering. They took pictures to share with their friends in the U.S. Three months later, [they] returned with good news. Donors in the U.S. saw the photos and heard the Lord call them to help.”
Refined Technologies, a chemical decontamination company, had watched a video of the community at the filthy river. Moved to action, the company pledged the funds needed for the project. Noe jumped on his motorbike, racing to tell Don Pedro the news. “When I saw him, I told him, ‘Don Pedro, this is the last day we will argue over water problems. Your problem is solved. The water project for Sartenejas and Zamorano is a reality.’” Don Pedro grabbed Noe and hugged him hard. In August 2017, the work to bring water to 3,000 people began.
First, a miracle — clean water
The project kicked off with a miracle when drillers discovered clean water on the first try: “The perfect well,” exclaims Don Pedro. Builders from the community created a sturdy hut to protect the source as 600 people began backbreaking work every day for four months, rising with the sun to move heavy rocks and dig miles of trenches.
In her front yard, Juana Martinez stored 1,000 pipes and 1,000 bags of cement used to construct the massive 60,000-gallon water tank. Juana serves on the water committee made up of men and women, responsible for overseeing that a near-marathon — 40 kilometers — of trenches are properly excavated. Her red hair tucked beneath a jaunty cowboy hat, Juana, 57, motors her all-terrain vehicle along the trenches, recording names of all present, as men and women dig with tools they’ve brought from home.
This is Juana’s first time as a project manager, and she says she loves it. It’s a hallmark of World Vision’s work to involve everyone in decision-making — men, women, and children. “This is an example for other women in the community,” says Juana. “They tell us we are blessed and that we are doing a great job.”
A mission accomplished
Juana and others on the water committee are documenting every moment of this journey. “We’re creating a big photo album,” she says. “It will serve for future generations to understand why you have to take care of the water.”
The album will have a spectacular ending: the celebration when the project is christened with good food to eat, folk dancing, and a marimba band made up of sponsored children. There will be speeches of love and thanksgiving. Hundreds of people will attend, including the health clinic staff, teachers and students from nearby schools, and families like Johanna’s who will no longer have to drag a wheelbarrow full of soda bottles to the river to collect water that poisons them.
The gift of water in Jamastran is seen as a gift from heaven. “The power of God has shown here,” says water committee member Julian Ordonez, a father of four. They are thankful to World Vision staff like Noe. They’re thankful to the donors who stepped forward to fund a dream. How World Vision, two communities, and caring donors came together as a team was something that could only have been orchestrated by the Almighty. “God put his eyes on us,” says Julian simply. As for Don Pedro, he’s going to retire. “My dream will be achieved,” he says. “I fought for children. Now they will have clean water.”
Last spring, people around the world were inspired to walk or run the Global 6K for Water by 5-year-old Cheru Lotuliapus, whose daily life in Kenya was consumed with finding water. The effects of this life were keeping Cheru — like so many other girls and women in sub-Saharan Africa — from living up to her potential. Today, thanks to our caring donors, World Vision is working in West Pokot County to bring clean water access to Cheru’s community.
Here’s how water engineers and villagers are bringing life-changing clean water from a pure mountain river down to Kesot, Kenya, where Cheru lives.
- Water engineers identify and inspect a weir, a dam that diverts water from the Kwok River, in the wooded hills about 15 miles away from Kesot.
- World Vision upgrades water services, building a new water kiosk with four taps, a cattle trough, and a water tank at the primary school. This work is being done in Cheboret, about 9 miles from where the water is piped from the river.
- Villagers from Kesot help build a pipeline extension from Cheboret to Kesot, 8 miles, to bring water to their school, health center, and market. Workers clear brush, dig trenches, and haul rocks and sand to the location.
- Workers erect and build kiosks, water troughs, and tanks to serve the school, health center, and market at Kesot.
- Kesot community members train others in areas of water, sanitation, and hygiene. A local technician learns how to perform repairs and maintenance.
- A standpipe will bring fresh water to Cheru’s family, just steps from where her mother cooks, washes clothes, and prepares tea.
You’re sure to find man’oushe (pronounced ma.nuʃ) at a traditional Lebanese breakfast. It’s a flatbread often topped with za’atar (thyme, sumac, sesame seeds, and salt), cheese, or kishk (fermented dried yogurt and ground bulgur wheat). Serve with olives, fresh cheese, croissants and jams, tabbouleh or fattoush salad, and keep the courses coming for a taste of Lebanon this spring!
Recipe for man’oushe
- 1 1/4 cups lukewarm water
- 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup za’atar
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- In a small bowl, mix 1/4 cup water and yeast. Set aside 5 to 10 minutes until yeast foams.
- In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, and salt.
- Add yeast mixture, remaining water, and vegetable oil to flour mixture. Mix until combined, and knead 10 minutes until dough is soft and elastic.
- Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover and let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, 1.5 to 2 hours.
- Punch down dough and divide into four to six balls; use extra flour, if needed. Cover and let rise for 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees, and place a baking stone or steel on the bottom rack. (An upside-down cookie sheet will do.)
- Combine za’atar and the olive oil. Set aside.
- On a floured surface, press each ball with your palm. Turn and flatten from the center to edge, adding extra flour as needed until each is 1/4 inch thick and about 8 inches across.
- Spread za’atar on the dough, leaving a 1/2-inch edge.
- Slide pieces onto the heated stone, and bake for 7 to 10 minutes until golden and bubbly. Serve warm, and enjoy!
The post In the kitchen: Recipe for man’oushe, Lebanese flatbread appeared first on World Vision.
The co-founder of the nation’s largest drive-up pure drinking water and ice company grew up in a town with bad water. “I remember as a newlywed on the front of the water bill, it would tell you what you would owe, and then you’d flip it over and on the back side,” says Lani Dolifka.” There would be a warning, and it would say, ‘Do not drink the water if you were pregnant or under 6 months of age.’”
Watermill Express is born
In 1984, Lani and Don, her then-boyfriend and now-husband took action. “With the help of family and friends, we developed an automated water purification kiosk that could take municipal water, process it through a multi-barrier system, and produce a very high quality, affordable source for safe drinking water,” she says.
Their goals were modest. “All we wanted to do was just provide water for our small community,” she says, “and a few communities in northern Colorado. But we learned there were a lot of other places in this country that had similar issues, and a lot were in underserved communities.”
With that knowledge, Lani began a 30-year journey to seek out America’s communities with contaminated water. “I’ve traveled to many of these small, forgotten areas in this country, seeing firsthand what it’s like to not have safe, affordable drinking water,” she says. Today, their company, Watermill Express, has 1,300 locations around the United States.
A clean water moment
Fast forward to 2016, and Lani traveled to a small village in Kenya — which, like her hometown, had dirty water. She met Naomi, who would trek daily for 7 miles to carry dirty water back to her family. “It had that green sludge on the top,” remembers Lani, “and when she pulled out water in the jerry can, it looked more solid than liquid.”
Call it a “green sludge moment.” Call it an epiphany. Something changed in Lani. “I think it was that moment it hit me. I thought, ‘As a mom of two kids, what must a mom feel like when this is the only water she can give to her kids?’ It’s the best she can do.” And then another horrifying thought: how so many children die every day from diarrhea.
Lani immersed herself in the experience, even getting the chance to carry water like so many women and girls do around the world. “And for those of you who have also had that experience,” she says, “you know it’s one of those things that hurts everything at the same time. It did for me, at least. You know, my back hurt; my head hurt; my arms, my legs, even my feet hurt that day.”
The pain was beyond physical. “My brain also hurt,” she says. “Because I knew that no sooner I took that water home, it’d be consumed in a matter of hours. And that meant I’d have to go back again and get that water again, and again, and again. And if I was pregnant or ill, that would be really, really difficult.”
Lani put herself into Naomi’s shoes. She now knew how it felt to spend seven hours gathering water. Every single day. It was so much to fathom. “When you’re spending that much time doing something just for basic survival,” she says, “you don’t have a lot of extra time to make your life or your kid’s lives better, and that’s what we want.”
More than child sponsorship
Meeting Naomi deepened Lani’s heart for the poor. It also touched her mother’s heart. “We want to make our kids’ lives better,” says Lani. “And when clean water is brought to a woman like Naomi, she starts seeing hope and a better future for her kids, especially her daughters.”
Lani learned that when women like Naomi receive clean water, it cuts down on water-related diseases that plague families. Sick less often, kids spend more time in school. Families held back by the long walk for water can move forward in new ways. Everyone gets back precious time. “That additional time [allows] Naomi to attend church and tend to her family’s well-being,” says Lani. “I can’t think of two better things to do than go to church and raise your family, and that’s what the clean water helped her achieve. We take so much for granted.”
Although Lani and her family were child sponsors, they did not know that World Vision is the leading provider of clean water in the developing world. “When I found that out, I immediately decided I was going to support World Vision’s work in water,” she says. So far, her foundation has provided more than 100 million gallons of clean water to families around the world so women like Naomi can spend more time raising their children and praising God.
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As teacher Tammy Belau sat with pigtails in a lone chair in the middle of the gym floor in front of 250 students, two eager middle-school boys flanked her wielding dull scissors and wide grins. Tammy quickly counted into the microphone — one, two, three — and the boys spent the next two minutes cutting off 10 inches of her hair.
This was the boys’ reward for finishing first in the Global 6K for Water last May. Tammy, a middle school math and high school finance teacher at Hosanna Christian School in Klamath Falls, Oregon, hosted the event to encourage the community to raise funds for World Vision to bring clean water to communities in the developing world. To add an extra layer of motivation, she pledged to donate an inch of hair for every 10 people registered if their school reached 100 participants.
“God gave me so much in Jesus, and I love to give. It is so rewarding to surprise people and give joy,” Tammy says. “I loved that I was able to sacrifice something as simple as my hair to motivate 100 people to make a difference.”
Her long, brown locks discovered their fate months earlier when Tammy heard about World Vision’s Global 6K for Water at a teachers’ conference. She was immediately drawn to the cause — partly because it sounded easy to do and partly because she knew the people of Klamath Falls would be keen to participate. So she signed up the school as a host site and started recruiting students, teachers, her kids, and community members.
Getting buy-in was easy, Tammy says. She announced it in daily school emails and at weekly chapel gatherings with students and posted a bright orange and white sign in the hallway. In the lead-up to the 6K, she found encouragement and camaraderie in the community cultivated on the Global 6K leaders’ Facebook page set up to share photos and ideas among World Vision staff and host site coordinators around the world.
“Where I live, we have a lot of outdoor activities,” Tammy says. “I know people like to do short races. It’s very doable.”
They can sympathize with children who have to travel far from their home to get water. “The people of our community want to give,” she says. “We face droughts too.”
A few years ago, the water supply dried up in Klamath Falls, so they had to drive to a neighboring town to get bottled water to weather the drought.
Tammy is a doer and inspires others to be one too. But the implications of the cause didn’t fully engulf her until right before race day.
“The impact of this struck me when I was walking the course with my daughter beforehand and we passed a couple of drainage canals,” Tammy says. “It hit me that this is the water that those kids have to drink. My kids don’t have to drink this water. My kids flush the toilet with clean water.”
Seeing those ditches helped Tammy and her daughter grasp the reality of what children on their race bibs are up against. Understanding that reality is huge, she says.
Altogether, Tammy and her team raised about $4,000, which will bring clean water to 80 people. Tammy and her husband were also inspired to embed this cause deeper into their family ethos, so they sponsored the three children on their race bibs.
“Hair grows back, but even bigger is the impact I know I made to my own daughters as well as the entire school. Love comes with sacrifice, but it’s always worth it,” Tammy says. “God comes to us with a gift. We come with open hands, and then we need to turn and give. We can’t keep him to ourselves.”
The post Oregon teacher cuts off hair to promote Global 6K for Water appeared first on World Vision.
The last thing 7-year-old Kamryn Thackrey sees before she goes to bed each night is a photo of Cheru, a 5-year-old girl from northern Kenya, holding a tea kettle full of dirty water on her head. Cheru looks tired from walking 6 kilometers with her siblings to collect water for their family to use for cooking, drinking, and bathing.
The photo inspires Kamryn and reminds her to pray for Cheru: that she would get access to clean water and not have to walk so far for it.
Kamryn and her family participated in the Global 6K for Water last year in their hometown of Flora, Illinois. The second-grader and her little sister, Abigail, spearheaded their effort to raise $1,200. That’s enough to help provide clean water to 24 people like Cheru.
“I was excited that I got to help kids not have to walk so far and that they could have clean water,” Kamryn says. “And I liked walking with my mom and dad and sister and brother.”
Kamryn’s journey with Cheru began early last spring. One day, her mom, Kari, was sorting through the mail and about to toss out the World Vision magazine, when the cover photo caught Kamryn’s eye. “Who is this?!” Kamryn asked.
When Kari took her over to the couch to read it together, Cheru’s story brought Kamryn to tears. Cheru was 5 in the photo, the same age as Abigail.
“Kamryn started crying and I said, ‘what’s wrong?’” Kari recounts. “She said, ‘I can’t imagine Abigail having to walk that far for water. That would be scary.’”
So Kamryn decided to do something about it. She and her family signed up for the 2017 Global 6K for Water. This was the first time they had done anything like this, but they knew it was the right thing to do. As they began fundraising and planning the race course, Kamryn shared Cheru’s story with her class, friends, family members, and kids at her church. She and Abigail made promotional fliers and posted a video on Facebook. Supportive parents and affirming comments on social media helped motivate the sisters to keep sharing Cheru’s story.
“We were losing-our-minds excited when money kept coming in,” Kari says.
The family charted their own 6K course and invited another family to join them.
“We enjoyed being able to do it just on our own, rather than drive to a big event, but knowing we were part of something bigger,” Kari says.
Kamryn is planning to host a bigger Global 6K event in her community and raise more money for water this year. Kari says they hope to rally a few more of Flora’s 5,000 residents to participate. “I want to try and do a big one at my church,” Kamryn says.
She began promoting this one before Christmas.
“Once she sets her mind to something, there is no swaying her in a different direction,” Kari says. “From the moment she read the first magazine about Cheru, we as a family were sold.”
Kamryn has been praying expectantly for Cheru since last spring. She recently learned that Cheru and her community will be getting access to clean water this year.
“Awesome,” Kamryn says matter-of-factly. “We will walk for other kids now.”
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Before the lights come up on the big stage in any city the Outcry Tour performs in, you’ll find something special happening backstage. In the hours leading up to the show, the musicians bring together pastors and church leaders from across the region to help build new connections for ministries in that area. It’s one of the best parts of the tour for Chris Brown, lead singer of Elevation Worship based in Charlotte, North Carolina, and he jokes, not to be confused with the other artist of the same name.
“I love being a part of that because it’s another practical step to say, ‘Let’s make a connection and talk about what God is doing in your church. Don’t just show up here tonight,’” he says. “Sometimes going into the night, it may feel like ‘I wish I was more like that,’ or, ‘I wish God was doing that where I am.’ The whole point of the tour is, ‘No. Let’s be aware of what God is doing because he’s working in every city and every church uniquely, and it’s drawing attention to that power of the local church.’”
The Outcry Tour brings together Elevation Worship, Bethel Music, Mosaic MSC, Vertical Worship, and Christine Caine in April. Collectively, the different worship groups pray that the tour will help bring people together and plug them into the local church.
“Our heart is always for what God is doing through the local church, first and foremost,” Chris says. “As a ministry, we feel like our heartbeat, power, and any level of anointing that God has given us or the songs is directly correlated to the local church, our love for it, and what God is doing.”
World Vision has partnered with the Outcry Tour and caught up with Chris to hear what’s on his heart before he heads out on the road this spring.
You’ve been on a couple of these tours now, so what’s special about this year’s tour?
I’m excited to go out with new artists and make some new friends. The Outcry Tours we’ve been on have all had such a good family synergy offstage and backstage. At the same time, it’s felt different tour to tour based on the artists.
The tour is really trying to promote that connection happening artist to artist. That’s such a great picture of what God is doing in his church right now — there aren’t boundary lines being drawn up. The tour is trying to indirectly speak against that and say, ‘See what we’re doing hand in hand.’ The family is growing in that sense because we haven’t had a chance to tour with all of the others yet. It’s showing what God’s continuing to build across his church.
Why is it important to show what God is doing across the church?
Any display of unity and linking arms is so important right now — the authenticity behind unity and not just a storefront display of, ‘Hey! Look! We’re doing a tour together. We’re unified. Get it?’ It actually is happening, and it actually is the atmosphere that’s set by the teams. Authenticity is always going to win out, and that’s an open platform for God to put his hand in the middle of something — maybe unique collaborations start happening that mean way more than music collaborations. We’re hopefully becoming a window for people to see that it was never meant for the church to have lines drawn, and this isn’t about a competition. It’s hopefully remedying some of that. It’s vital right now.
What else do you want people to get from the concert?
I would want nothing more than for them to leave truly having an encounter with God that’s going to last and be rooted in their spirit and their heart. For the person coming, our prayer and our heart is always that we truly hope something shifts in your spirit tonight — something will start being redirected in the spiritual realm and the spiritual sense of how God is working in your life, the calling he has on your life, and the purpose he has for your life.
It’s just special. Any time we have an opportunity to lead worship in front of a group of people, it’s special — that can be an opportunity to be a milestone in their whole calling. They’ll look back knowing that maybe that was a turning point or a confirmation that they’re heading in the right direction with their pursuit. It’s a massive responsibility that we have and quite a blessing that we would potentially have a voice to speak into their life. It happens directly, but it also happens not face-to-face in a conversation, but in that God would allow the music from the worship those nights to transfer that dialogue into someone’s heart.
Is that part of what motivates you as an artist?
For sure. It’s what grounds me, and it’s what we come back to as a team week-to-week here at church. We never stop talking about the impact that someone is possibly going to have because we’re helping set an atmosphere of worship that’s allowing them to experience God’s presence.
That Presence can move people to action as well, so why is the partnership with World Vision important?
We love being out with World Vision and love everything about what it means to sponsor a child. Personally, that’s close to our family’s heart. My wife and I have sponsored for years. The number of kids that get sponsored night after night through Outcry is incredible. What a platform to be able to have people in the arena, church, or wherever we are captive to share such a compelling testimony or vision. I love the opportunity and that it’s there.
How has child sponsorship been a part of your family’s experience?
We’ve sponsored for 10 or 11 years a couple different kids. Pre-our-own-kids, for us, it was almost a decision that we didn’t think about a lot in the sense that we just wanted to establish a routine of generosity monthly that we were thinking about others more than ourselves. We established this rhythm of, “Hey we’re helping care for someone that maybe we’ll meet one day, maybe not.” Now we have kids of our own — they’re 7 and 5 — and it’s such a great conversation to have while raising kids of your own. It’s a great teaching opportunity. They’re a part of writing letters, and they send things at Christmas. Even this morning, Beth my wife told me, “We can give above and beyond in general to help the family,” and our kids are part of that. They hear us talking about it, and we’re including them.
It’s never been that difficult of a choice for us — let’s do what we can. It’s establishing a rhythm just like tithing. I want my kids growing up giving 10 percent to the church. If nothing else, when they get to be teenagers, they’ve been in a rhythm of giving back to God their whole lives. I see this the same way. It starts as a rhythm, and then you see the heart, spirit, and everything else come along too, so we love it.
How else do you talk to your kids about poverty?
We find different avenues and ways to bring up the conversation. What we have is way more than what we need, if we’re honest. My wife goes through a couple times a year and does a purging and cleaning of our kids’ toys. She doesn’t just go in and clean out their closet. They’re a part of it. We don’t want to just have more and more and more. Any time we’re having that purging time, we’ve also piggybacked off of, “Hey, [our sponsored child] doesn’t have near what you have in this one little basket. We’re not going to ship this stuff to him specifically, but we are going to give it away to someone else locally.”
A couple of years ago, 20 members of Cascade Covenant Church in North Bend, Washington, joined Team World Vision to run and raise money to bring clean water to children around the world.
Then last year, about 70 people from the church joined the Global 6K for Water: young and old, walking or running to serve in a simple, but powerful way.
“It is such an easy way to have people put their faith in action,” Senior Pastor Dan Boehlje says. “We’re just one tiny little church here in Washington, but you multiply that across the United States, across the globe and that makes a big difference.”
Nestled in the shadow of the Cascades east of Seattle, the 6K has given Cascade Covenant a broader and deeper view of changing the world through the local congregation and community.
“It’s just show up and walk or run,” Dan says. “And it really does create its own momentum as people get excited for it because of what it means.”
Last year, about 1,300 people walked or ran the 6K course near Gas Works Park in Seattle. Worldwide, about 27,000 people walked or ran to raise awareness and money to solve the world’s water crisis.
“I want to thank you for coming,” World Vision U.S. President Rich Stearns says. “I have met men and women who are 70 years old and have never taken a clean shower or a bath in their lives. I’ve seen little children who have never had a cup of clean water to drink in their lives. Those are the people you’re running for today. Just imagine living 70 years and never having access to clean water.”
On May 19 and 20, 2018, World Vision will again host the Global 6K for Water and Celebration Sunday with participants across the U.S. and around the world.
Why a 6K? Six kilometers, about 3.7 miles, is the average distance people — usually women and girls — walk to get water in the developing world. It’s not a leisurely stroll; it’s a difficult, frequently dangerous, and time-consuming journey. And the water is dirty.
Each participant wears a race bib with a picture of a child, representing one person who will get clean water. Every $40 registration fee goes toward providing clean water for one person.
Sharing the struggle for water with children
“It was always important to me to teach my kids to be grateful for what they had,” says Angela McCann, children’s pastor at Cascade Covenant. “And so as a mother, I just think this is such a great way to teach our kids to be thankful for something as simple as a clean glass of water that’s right out of the tap.”
Even for the children she pastors, the 6K is relevant and potentially life changing.
The kids get it, she says. They understand what it means to have to go get water. They understand the effort to walk 6 kilometers and that kids their age do that every day around the world. Often, more than once a day.
“When we accept Jesus in our hearts, yes, we can follow God and be in heaven,” Angela says. “But there’s more to it. He’s still bringing light and healing to this world and we’re participants in that. So for me, this is faith in action. This is an application of bringing that light of Christ into the dark places of this world.”
Last year, one of her fifth graders asked his mom to text a picture of him crossing the Global 6K for Water finish line to Angela.
“This is a fifth grader who is so excited that he got to be part of this,” Angela says. “I think of all the kids that were there from my congregation. What is this going to do for them when they’re in middle school? What is this going to do for them when they’re in college? How is this going to affect them and the people around them when they’re in high school and college? I just — that is what gives me chills.”
Impacting communities through sponsorship
“Our whole goal is to engage our church in our community, in our world,” says Lyndsey Watson, an associate pastor at Cascade Covenant who has been the driving force behind the 6K at Cascade.
The experience of the 6K and sponsorship helps drive a deeper and more meaningful connection.
“Through sponsorship, you get to really engage in the conversation,” Lyndsey says. “We sponsor a little boy named Emmanuel, and he is awesome, and he’s growing. I get to see videos of him. I get to write emails to him. I get to write letters. My kids get to engage with that. We get to send him gifts in the mail and then hear from him, and that’s what makes it special.”
Cascade’s denomination, the Evangelical Covenant Church, and World Vision partner to work in the Democratic Republic of the Congo where the denomination has a long history of medical missions. The children sponsored through World Vision at Cascade Covenant are from the same area of the Congo.
“It’s not just that child; it’s that family, it’s that community we’re able to impact,” Lyndsey says. “I think people are able then to grasp a little bit more of what it means to actually come alongside these families in the Congo and see their lives transformed for the better.”
‘A tangible way to be the hands and feet of Jesus’
For Jaime Cole and her four children, ages 8 to 13, the Global 6K for Water was educational, allowing them to identify with children who walk for water.
“In our culture, it’s easy for us to forget how easy things are for us, like having water on a daily basis,” Jaime says. “And so doing the 6K was a good example, a physical reminder and example of what it would be like if we didn’t have that easy access and the ability to afford things like water on a regular, every day basis.”
And while they had fun and learned something new, Jaime says the family wanted a more permanent bond with the children who walk for water, so they sponsored a child in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
“It’s a real tangible way to be the hands and feet of Jesus,” Jaime says. “We’re always looking for opportunities to do that with the family and to constantly remind ourselves that we have the ability with what we’ve been given to give back to others and to represent God’s love in that way.”
‘We’re all sponsored into God’s kingdom’
Duane and Julie Duim have been longtime partners of World Vision, traveling to Zambia to meet their sponsored child, which Duane says was a life-changing moment. Participating in the Global 6K for Water was natural for their family of six.
“It went well,” Julie says. “They loved it, rallied behind it. They loved running for a purpose too. We had a great time.”
But the Duim family wanted to do more, so they sponsored one of the children on their race bibs that day — their fifth sponsored child through World Vision.
“You commonly get asked, why you would do something like this,” Duane says. “For our family, it’s been important to ask the question, not so much why are you doing but why not? Why would you not want to come in and be able to love others the way Christ loves us?
“We know that we’re all sponsored into God’s kingdom, and he calls us to do the same with his children. And we’re fortunate to be blessed in order that we can turn around and be a blessing to others. And this is just one small way to be able to do that.”
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