Several years ago I was living in Guatemala ministering in the rural mountain villages. We were working with people who lived in mud huts with thatch roofs, had no access to running water, medical care or electricity, and their only food was what their harvest provided. These people felt as though they were completely abandoned, even by their own government.
I remember one night we were holding a church service, when it was abruptly interrupted due to a woman who came seeking medical attention after being beaten by her husband. She came in the dark of night seeking help while bringing along three young daughters. As the mother was being treated, I remember trying to make conversation with the kids to distract their attention from their mom. One of the girls was holding, what I thought at first was a baby, but came to find out was a three year old girl who weighed 10 pounds due severe malnutrition. Milia was so frail that she couldn’t walk, talk, and could barely support her own head.
That night was one of my most broken times before the Lord. How could there be such suffering? In my brokenness, God revealed to me that He was not absent and was at work in the community. The fact that we were there and able to obtain medical attention for Milia was an evidence of His grace. After weeks in a hospital, Milia slowly began to regain strength. In fact, my last time seeing her, she was laughing, running around her hut, and told me that one day she was going to be as big as her house. She was a normal three year old again!
Two moths after returning to the States, I received a devastating phone call. Milia had gotten sick with diarrhea and died. After all she had been through and overcame, diarrhea, caused most likely by contaminated water and poor hygiene, killed her. Her story, though extremely personal and intimate, is not unique. Diarrhea kills 2,195 children every day - more than AIDS, malaria, and measles combined. *1
“Her story, though extremely personal and intimate, is not unique.”
As a church, this is not something we’re ok with. Since Living Stones Churches began, we have a tradition during Advent we call the Year End Gift. The Year End Gift is a special offering collected at our Christmas Gathering. Half of the gift goes to support the ongoing work and ministry of Living Stones Church, and the other half is given away for the drilling of fresh water wells around the world in partnership with Living Water International. In drilling wells, we are often ministering to the poorest of the poor, whom Jesus cares deeply about.
When we give a cup of water in Jesus’ name through the drilling of freshwater wells, we are doing much more than putting water in a glass. When we drill a well, the ripple effect of clean water in a community is far reaching. It affects health *2, sanitation and hygiene, education *3, household productivity *4, and livelihood. There is also Gospel ministry that takes place during the drilling process that is in partnership with a local church when possible.
This last August, I lead two teams from Living Stones to be part of the drilling process in Honduras. We learned that in one of the villages, the people were spending approximately 20%-30% of their income ($2 daily income) on clean drinking water. After building the well, one lady excitedly shared with the team that now that she doesn’t have to spend as much money on clean water, she can begin saving money to buy materials to build her first house. A simple well drilled in the village didn’t just provide clean water, but a future home.
“A simple well drilled in the village didn’t just provide clean water, but a future home.”
Since 2010, Living Stones has invested $738,737 toward clean water in 10 countries, impacting over 141,000 people with 126 water wells and equipment. The equipment we helped purchase include service vehicles (Haiti, Nicaragua, and Sierra Leone) and a new drill rig for El Salvador.
This Advent, we invite you to join us in Digging Deep. We want to Dig Deep to drill wells, but we also want to Dig Deep in our generosity. As we reflect on the generosity of God through the birth of Jesus, we want to be generous to those in need. After learning that some people in need of water are spending 20% of their income on clean water, would you consider what a Year End Gift of 20% might look like? This could be 20% of a month’s salary, pay period, week, day, etc. With the work we’ve done, it takes about $14 to give one person water for a lifetime, though the average is approximately $42. Every gift, large or small, makes an impact.
“Every gift, large or small, makes an impact.”
Tax deductible donations can be made during our Christmas Gatherings at each service on December 23 at 9am, 11am, and 6pm or online during the month of December at lsgive.com and selecting the Reno Year End Gift designation.
As I’ve had the direct opportunity to meet people from several countries impacted by the wells funded by Living Stones, I want to pass on their deep appreciation and gratitude for this life changing gift. Thank you!
1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/global/diarrhea-burden.html
2 More than 840,000 are estimated to die each year from diarrhea as a result of unsafe drinking-water, sanitation, and hand hygiene. The deaths of 360,000 children under the age of five could be avoided each year if these risk factors are addressed.
3 Diseases—along with the time-consuming chore of hauling water for the family—cause absenteeism and early drop-out.
4 On average, globally, women and children spend 200 million hours every day collecting water, often for water that's already contaminated.