“And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.”—Matthew 10:42 (NIV)
Water is essential to life. In fact, water makes up about 60 percent of an adult’s body weight. Without it, we don’t just struggle—we can’t even live.
I came to understand as never before the importance of water during my second trip to Haiti in 2009. The school where I stayed served more than 1,200 students, yet the area did not have a single water source. Instead, water was trucked to the site twice each week. This situation served as an ongoing source of frustration, both due to the financial considerations involved and the struggle to maintain enough water for the school’s children.
When I returned a year later, a few people from our work crew were gathered for dinner when we were told that a Canadian team who had been drilling for water had found a clean water well. First-time visitors were happy at the news, but showed little understanding of the event’s significance. In contrast, the long-term teachers and missionaries in attendance were moved to tears and celebration, knowing that water would change everything.
No longer would the daily conversation revolve around whether there would be enough water to cook, provide water to children at lunch, or wash dishes. Water had been found. Lives would be changed.
That day has stayed in my mind ever since. When I began to work on my first devotional book, I had the title Thirst No More in mind and was considering how I could use the title to also share about the need for clean water in Haiti. What I discovered in the process is that the problems regarding clean water are far greater than one village in Haiti.
Listen to how the clean water organization Living Water International describes the situation:
“Water. It is at the heart of a daily crisis faced by a billion of the world’s most vulnerable people—a crisis that threatens life and destroys livelihoods on a devastating scale.
“Unlike war and terrorism, the global water crisis does not make media headlines, despite the fact that it claims more lives through disease than any war claims through guns. Unlike natural disasters, it does not rally concerted international action, despite the fact that more people die each year from drinking dirty water than from the world’s hurricanes, floods, tsunamis, and earthquakes combined.”
That’s why water matters. Jesus taught that there would be a reward for those who gave a single cup of water to those in need. How much better is it to provide a well that could provide water to many more?
As James wrote in the New Testament, our calling to follow Jesus is a challenge to help those in need. He taught:
“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead” (James 2:14–17 NIV).
As we have the ability, our pursuit of God must include meeting the physical needs of others. Since water is the most basic of human necessities, it only makes sense to begin there.
Ultimately, water matters because people matter. When we provide water to those without, it honors God and helps those we are called to serve. As Jesus said in Matthew 5:16, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (NIV).
Dillon Burroughs is author of the new one-year devotional Thirst No More and coauthor of Not in My Town: Exposing and Ending Human Trafficking and Modern-Day Slavery with Charles Powell. Find out more about Dillon and his work at DillonBurroughs.org and ThirstNoMoreBook.com.
Scripture marked (NIV) is from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.