Text: Exodus 17:1-7
“One hundred hours. That’s the oft-cited statistic for how long a human body can typically survive at ‘average’ temperatures without access to water.” (Anathea Portier-Young, Commentary on Exodus 17:1-7)
I had never heard of Flint, Michigan until 2014. Probably most of us never had. But in 2014 the town of Flint, Michigan became headline news when the drinking water source for the city of Flint was changed from Detroit to the Flint River in an effort to save money. Residents immediately began to complain about the smell, taste, and appearance of the water. They raised health concerns, reporting rashes, hair loss, and other problems. Officials would eventually reveal that due to insufficient water treatment over 100,000 residents in Flint were potentially exposed to high levels of lead in the drinking water. From the youngest to the oldest, Flint residents were being sickened by the water they drank, bathed in, cooked with, and used for cleaning. A federal state of emergency was declared in January of 2016 and Flint residents were instructed to use only bottled or filtered water for drinking, cooking, cleaning, and bathing.
Today, nearly 1 billion people in the developing world don’t have access to clean, safe drinking water. In places like sub-Saharan Africa, time lost gathering water and suffering from water-borne diseases is limiting people’s quality of life. Education is lost to sickness. Economic development is lost while people merely try to survive.
Three days ago, the news headlines declared, “Drinking water crisis grips Puerto Rico in wake of Maria.” In an interview on September 27, NPR’s Greg Allen reported that…the greatest need [in Puerto Rico] is clean, running water. His segment began: “At a government center in the town of Toa Baja, several people crowded yesterday around a spigot delivering a trickle of water. It was a friendly crowd, with everyone taking turns filling five-gallon jugs, bottles, and buckets with something most people take for granted, clean water.” He continues, “Wanda Ferrer says she can live without power, but what she really needs is water.”
Droughts in Somalia. Water rationing in Rome. Flooding in Jakarta and Harvey-battered Houston. One hundred hours without water and life becomes unsustainable.
Today on this World Communion Sunday it is appropriate for us to raise our awareness of our brothers and sisters around the globe and here in our own country who do not have access to clean, safe drinking water. Like the Israelites journeying through the wilderness, physical thirst still exists for many in our world. [Read more…]