The Lenten season of the liturgical calendar is a deeply spiritual time for Christians around the world – reflecting on Christ’s journey to the Cross, and its impact on our lives. Lent is the Church’s preparation for Easter. For forty days the community of faith prays, fasts, practices acts of compassion, and acknowledges that Christ changes our lives and changes our world.
This Lent, we want to invite you to bring even greater significance to your Lenten observance, both in your spiritual lives and in the lives of people around the world. During Lent, we invite you to take steps that serve as daily reminders of Christ’s sacrifice and, through prayer, study, and action, respond to those who drink the cup of suffering every day. Today, 884 million people in the world lack access to safe drinking water. We are called by the life and example of Jesus Christ to live in relationship with the rest of the world and Creation, and our lives should reflect that. By recognizing water as a gift given from God, for the well being of all the Earth, and by taking steps so that more may experience that blessing, we can change the way we interact with it.
Water is symbolic of our relationship with God, carrying the image of renewal, promise, and hope. It is through water that we are baptized into the community of the church. Furthermore, water is essential to all life on Earth, and it links human life to the rest of God’s Creation. Despite the abundance of water on the Earth, we are doing a rather poor job of sharing the abundance. Today, nearly 1 billion people in the world still lack clean drinking water, and 2.5 billion lack access to adequate sanitation. Unsafe water, poor sanitation and hygiene – cause 80 percent of the sickness in developing countries and the deaths of 5,000 children a day. By 2025, half of the world’s poorest countries will face moderate to severe water shortages unless the Millennium and World Summit Development Goals are met.
But this isn’t the end of the story. People of faith can make a real difference in confronting these problems. Check out the work of non-profit organizations linked on this site, and read about the amazing work Christian organizations are doing the world over – and then, this Lent, decide to get involved. Take steps to bring about a better world for all of God’s children, and all of Creation.
A Story from the Field
Lack of access to clean water and sanitation is one of the leading causes of illness and death among the poor in Vietnam, where many in rural areas suffer from waterborne disease. This is particularly true in the mountains of Pho Yen district, where more than one out of four people suffers from a water-related disease. In Pho Yen, even the health clinics lack access to clean water, thus facing the double burden of treating patients suffering from water-related diseases without having their own clean water. In response, Church World Service is helping to construct water supply facilities and hygienic latrines for three clinics, and lay pipelines for water distribution to 150 households. Training is being provided on the operation and management of the systems, on prevention and transmission of water-related diseases, and on good hygiene practices. And there are thousands of stories just like this one.