Saturday, December 19, 2009

Water for Christmas

Did you know that disease related to unclean drinking water is the second biggest killer of children worldwide? In fact it kills about 1.8 million kids every year. That's 5,000 a day. That's too many.

Providing clean drinking water to the world is a daunting task. No one would claim it is not. It would cost about $10 billion to make clean water available to everyone. I don't know about you, but I don't have $10 billion sitting around waiting for a cause to donate to.

So I've gotta look at this a different way.

Here in America, we spend about $450 billion every year on Christmas. That's $450,000,000,000 spent on cards, ornaments, lights, presents, gift wrap, and other stuff that will mean little or nothing a month later. That's a lot of junk.

And it really doesn't make us any happier.

How many people have you heard complaining about all the stuff to do this time of year? About parking spaces at the mall, over-full schedules, too little money, too much stress? How many times have you yourself complained about it? And with the convenience of credit cards, we've even found a way to extend that stress-filled misery well into the new year!

In this country of spoiled children (and I'm not just talking about those under 18), we spend our time and our money searching for material value. No time of the year is this better reflected than Christmas. In order to celebrate the birth of God's Son who humbled Himself to be born as one of us, a helpless baby sleeping in the barn because there was no room in the inn, we spend billions ($450 billion!!!) on material junk. Am I the only one who sees the disconnect here?

Nowhere in the Gospel will you see Jesus trimming a tree, wrapping presents or mailing cards. This is not how He chose to celebrate His life. What you do see is Jesus every day reaching out to the poor, the lonely, the outcasts, the dregs of society. If He were walking this earth today, I don't think He'd be doing any different.

So do you think we, as spoiled Americans, could maybe solve this enormous $10 billion problem by allocating just a little (2% -- that's not much!) of our $450 billion spent on Christmas to instead helping those who need it?

There's a group who is urging people to do just that. Living Water International uses donations to build wells in communities where clean water is not available. They also educate the people there about hygiene and all of those little things that we take for granted every day. But more than that they use the connections these wells give them to spread the Gospel to people who have never heard it. More than just clean drinking water, they provide Living Water to a lost and hurting world.

Now, I'm a pretty skeptical person when it comes to charities. I mean how many charities out there spend the vast majority of their donations on overhead costs, leaving little to go to actually solving the problems they seek to solve? If you've never thought about this before, I would encourage you to look into your favorite charities and see how they stack up. If they don't make such financial information easily available to the public, that seems like a big red flag to me.

So what about Living Water International? If you go to their website and navigate to About LWI>Financials, you'll see that they're quite transparent about their funds. Another thing to note is the little ECFA logo at the bottom of the page. Any charity who is a member of the ECFA has had to go through an extensive auditing process to determine that they are doing what they say they will with the money they take in.

I should probably have posted this a month ago, but I didn't know all the details then. I know most of us have already spent our portion of the $450 billion. I also know that there are a lot of people who are still planning to spend more. If you're one of them, won't you consider giving to LWI? There must be someone on your list who would be glad to receive a note saying that you donated in their name rather than another meaningless gift to be thrown to the back of the closet come January.

Photos courtesy of Living Water International.

1 comment:

jan said...

That is a great idea. So often we don't know if our contributions actually go to the people in the countries or to the leaders who don't always "share."

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