But the crisis in Flint is a reminder of a global issue. 780 million people worldwide do not have access to clean water. That's more than twice the population of the United States. For about 1/10 of the world, the water crisis in Flint is a day-to-day reality. It is good that the country is outraged over the poisoning of an entire city, but our outrage needs to also extend beyond Flint. We need to strike at the heart of the problem. We need to stop treating clean water like a privilege, only for people who are wealthy enough to afford it or who happen to be born in the right place. Water is the foundation of life, and a basic human necessity. Without water, we die. Lack of clean water is a human rights violation, and whether or not it affects us personally, as Christians it is our concern.
The theme of water appears repeatedly throughout the Bible. In Genesis 21, when Hagar and Ishmael are sent into the desert, God saves them by providing water. In Exodus 17 when the Israelites are wandering in the desert, God provides for them by making water come out of a rock. In John 4 Jesus tells the Samaritan woman at the well that anyone who drinks of the living water he provides will never be thirsty again. In 2 Kings 5, Naaman is healed of leprosy when he washes in the water of the Jordan. The prophet Isaiah speaks of drawing water from the well of salvation. Water purifies, water gives life. Much of the Bible takes place in areas where water was and is scarce. A lack of water was considered a curse from God, while an abundance of water was considered a blessing. Jesus became known as the living water because water is so vital.
Water is a gift from God for all people, not just Jews and Christians. Ishmael, Naaman, the Samaritan woman at the well, these people were not Jews, but God still provided for them, either physically or spiritually, through the gift of water. The gift of water is the gift of life, just like the breath in our lungs. It is a gift that should be available to all people. It is shameful that we deprive people of clean water by charging exorbitant prices or polluting their water source. Together it is our responsibility to ensure that water is available to the people of Flint and the other 780 million people who go without it. Water is a right, not a privilege.
- Learn more about the Flint water crisis and how it developed here
- Want to help the people of Flint? United Way of Genesee County is collecting to provide filters, bottled water and emergency services. 100% of donations go directly to these projects. Donate here
- Living Waters for the World is an organization with the PC(USA) which provides water treatment systems for communities without clean water sources. Check them out here