Focuses on safe and affordable access to drinking water, adequate sanitation and hygiene for all.
Every day nearly 1,000 children die due to preventable water and sanitation-related diarrhoeal diseases. In Isaiah 47, God responds to the cry ‘of the poor’ who were searching for water, and says ‘I will answer them…I will not forsake them.’ We too cannot afford to forsake this urgent issue. Once again, Matthew 25 gives us a clear, black and white choice.
No Point Going Halfway from The Global Goals
+ THEOLOGICAL REFLECTION
The poor and needy search for water, but there is none; their tongues are parched with thirst. But I the LORD will answer them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them. I will make rivers flow on barren heights, and springs within the valleys. I will turn the desert into pools of water, and the parched ground into springs. Isaiah 41:17-18
Water is as vital a commodity now as it was in Biblical times. Easily taken for granted in the developed world, population growth, deforestation and climate change have all intensified the pressure on water supplies today for much of the population of the planet. In the ancient world, where this struggle was obvious and ever-present, the use of water as both a metaphor for life and a practical example of actual refreshment was inevitable. It is possible though that in some Biblical passages, we jump to the assumption of metaphor too quickly. Certainly God wants to bless people by pouring out His Spirit upon them, but he is also concerned to see wells built and rivers replenished and the thirsty given a drink. Maybe even the one might inspire the others!
As with so many of these goals, lots of good things are happening, but so much more is still to be done. With regard to access to drinking water for example, 91% of the world’s population had this in 2015, an increase from 82% in 2000, but that still leaves 663 million people drinking from completely untreated sources. Even more than that, perhaps 3 times as many, still drink from seriously contaminated water. It’s worse with regard to sanitation. Again there was a 9% increase in the global population who had access to an improved sanitary system over those 15 years, but the total figure in 2015 remained at only 68%. Of the 2.4 billion people who have seen no improvement, almost 1 billion have no facilities at all.
Imagine you were one of those people, reading a passage from the Bible like the one above. What would you think? Even more so, imagine reading such promises again with those that suffer so at the forefront of your mind. Is it enough to comfortably spiritualise them with a view to enhancing our own experience, or does it demand more? Goal 6 aims to make streams of living water flow in parched lands again, not least by securing access to clean drinking water and adequate sanitation for everyone on the planet by 2030. Jesus said something about ‘When I was thirsty you gave me something to drink’ (Matthew 25:35) It is really the least we can do.
+ DISCUSSION POINTS
- Water has great significance in the Bible, so what does it represent according to the Scriptures? Can you find examples and is there a danger of ‘over-spiritualising some of them?
- Have you ever been in a situation where water, or sanitation, has not been freely available, how did it make you feel?
- In what practical ways might Jesus’ challenge to give someone a drink, in Matthew 25, be carried out today?
- What steps can you take to save water today?
+ GOAL 6 IN ACTION
WellFound delivers Goal 6 based on Christian principles of love and responsibility to a global community in dire need. Villages are chosen based on incidence of water related diseases, child mortality and poverty due to lack of potable water.
Using ‘Water’ as a tool, WellFound enables communities to improve their sanitation facilities, including their ability to grow fresh vegetables and fruits, improving their health and economy. Women, who were marginalised, are now members of committees who make major decisions for their own villages. “Water transformed our lives”, said a woman from Bissunaga – a remote village in Guinea Bissau. This work is reducing mortalities and enabling an 80% reduction in water related diseases in the villages in which we work. Whilst good progress is being made, 2.4 billion people still lack access to basic sanitation services, such as toilets or latrines. WellFound’s mission is to make a world where access to clean fresh water is available for all in Jesus’ name.
+ WHAT CAN I DO ABOUT IT?
Personal – Stop wasting water. For instance, bathtubs require gallons more water than a 5-10 minute shower.
International – Support the efforts of WellFound to provide clean water and sanitation to some of the worlds most vulnerable people.