From cleaning the dishes to taking a shower or just having a cool glass of water with lunch, water is something that is part of our everyday lives. For many, the process of receiving clean water is as simple as turning on the faucet. It is not anything that we think twice about. But for others, there is a daily battle with if, and where, they will access clean water for their daily needs. Darrell Larson started the non-profit group, Give Clean Water to provide every person in Fiji with sustainable access to clean water. Risen interviewed Larson five years ago and talked with him about the disconnect between Fiji’s resort community and the actuality of half the country not having access to clean water as well as how they provide sustainable access to clean water.
Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life. The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.” John 4: 13-15
Larson shares about the disconnect between the perception of Fiji and the reality of how half the country doesn’t have access to clean water.
“Fiji is a beautiful country with the scenic laces and resorts you see on TV, but realistically, Fiji is a second-world country. Infrastructure is a challenge in a place with so many remote mountainous areas, some of which are only accessible with a really good four-wheel drive vehicle. Water access is there, because it rains a lot, but with industrialization and a growing population, it becomes more of a challenge to treat that water. The biggest struggle Fiji faces is trying to play catch-up with the development in rural areas that are so far removed. The country is working as fast as it can and has a great long and medium term plan, but in the meantime, the people in the villages that are really far away from everything, have to get their water from a creek, or the river, or rain. People don’t tend to think there would be a problem in Fiji because they see a picture of a resort that has everything self-contained. But once you get outside the resort you see how the rest of the population lives. And although it’s a very beautiful country and is full of the warmest people in the world, the logistics of getting clean, treated water to people is a huge challenge.”
“and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” Hebrews 10:21-23
Larson explains how the work that they do with Give Clean Water is designed to be sustainable.
“When we go into people’s homes, we teach them basic hygiene and how water becomes contaminated. We give them a little poster that explains the different ways water becomes polluted and bacteria filled. An important part of the process is that we actually teach them how to assemble and to use the water filter. Then they have to demonstrate to us that they understand how the system works. With cleaning and proper use, these filters are meant to last a lifetime. The final step is to go back and visit villages where water filters have been installed. An additional part of the process has been working with the health ministry and the health workers assigned to each village. Partnering directly with them and including them in the follow-up process is a big part of our memorandum of understanding. During a follow-up visit, our staff goes back to each house to verify that the filters are being used and working properly. This is also a time that we can collect data to pass onto the health ministry. The follow-up visits are a great part of what we do that separates us from other organizations. It’s the hard work of going back to villages and finding things that perhaps aren’t going 100 percent well.”
Drink the living water. Take time this week to reflect on how you are being filled up. God wants us to fill up daily by reading the Bible and spending time praying. Often times, we instead turn to activities, television shows, food, or other things to try and get energy or rest. As you pray, ask God if there are habits or activities that you need to change that are not in line His Holy Spirit.
Give back. Have you been on a mission trip or an outreach event that has impacted you? Rather than it being a singular event, allow God to use the things you saw and learned to motivate you to action. It can be getting involved with an existing ministry at church, volunteering at a community organization or even starting your own ministry or non-profit. Seek God’s direction and the wisdom of a ministry leader or pastor.
Teach a man to fish. Rather than merely provide a man a fish or a product or service, consider teaching someone a trade or craft that can provide sustainability. Often with missions or outreach, a group comes in and gives something away and leaves the following week. It might take more time and investment, but the results are often longer lasting.
To read our entire interview with Darrel Larson, click here.