It's About People - Not Water
Living Waters for the World (LWW) is NOT about water. It's about people. The 2020 Partners’ Conference for water system operators and health educators in the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico made that very clear to me.
Yes, it’s about clean water at payable prices for those at the margins. Yes, access to drinkable water for those with limited resources is a concern. Yes, water as a matter of social justice is a central issue. But it's the people on the margins who need the clean, affordable water - and the people who produce the clean water and make water justice happen when they install a system - this is what LWW is really all about.
For instance at the February conference there was Jose, in his 50s, and his namesake Jose, in his 20s, who came from a village near Izamal. The older Jose showed me his callused, bitten hands from beekeeping and cattle raising and corn growing. The older Jose was the water system operator while the younger Jose drove the delivery truck. Both seemed a bit uncomfortable with me at first around the dinner table, as I was with them, until we all three sensed that in spite of cultural and economic differences we are in this life together, sharing a common humanity in Christ. A water team from New York attended the conference in support of their LWW partners. The New Yorkers ached to install yet another system, but they realized that age and health have now made that difficult. But, said one of them with determination, we can still raise funds.
A pastor I remember meeting years ago was also there. He didn't know much about LWW and was there to find out more. What he did know was that his people needed clean, affordable water. And he also knew that his own family desperately
needed the One who is Living Water itself. My hope and prayer for him is that these two needs somehow meet in LWW.
Wilfrido was there from Campeche. His great grandfather was a henequen slave, whose son, Wilfrido’s grandfather, succeeded in escaping that slavery. His grandfather told stories to his family about the serfdom which existed in the Yucatan and which was controlled by wealthy landowners - stories of the brutal enslavement of the Maya. My grandfather was a Pennsylvania coal miner, certainly not a slave or serf, but nonetheless a man who did brutal work to the advantage of the coal barons. So, for Wilfrido and I there was a common thread: Jesus Christ means escape from slavery as he transforms both souls and societies. The Living Water of Jesus Christ is poured out onto people like Wilfrido, the water team from New York, my pastor friend, and you and me as well. This Living Water flows into people who are thirsty in body and soul, people who find themselves working and living and praying and serving with others far different from themselves, with whom they often have nothing more in common than Jesus.
There is something else, though, that we now have in common: COVID-19. I do fear for these precious friends in Mexico who, unlike us, have scant resources to hunker down and shelter-in-place. But I thank God for whatever drinkable water flows from Living Water systems and for the life-giving spiritual resources that flow from their Christ-centered worship and prayer and devotional lives. No, Living Waters for the World is NOT about water. It's about people who are loved by God and who share with others both clean water and the Living Water of Jesus Christ.