This week I read that every day, women and girls spend 200 million hours walking to collect water for their families. That’s 8.3 million days. More than 22,800 years. All in one day!
That figure is so daunting. Where can one begin to make an impact for these women and children? It’s not just the quantity of hours amassed, it’s also the dangerous treks for fetching poor quality water!I look at my eight-year-old daughter and ask why can she go to any faucet in the house and get clean drinking water on demand?
We get to be leaders in providing clean water, for the world’s future leaders. Every child deserves clean water, and those 200 million hours from each day can be better put to use in seeing families, villages, whole communities, regions and nations flourishing.
Families gather for Renew Church’s 6k for Water event in Oregon City, OR (April 2016)
Last year we hosted a 6K for Water in our city. The enrollment was gradual, and then some signups were rushed near end. While I tried to hand out flyers, I found that the real key was a personal invite. Known as a runner, many thought I would be able to compel other runners. Well, I’m here to tell you it is the unlikely ones who rise to the occasion.
The 6K isn’t really for runners; it’s not even for us.
My friend Dawson has two daughters, and is (or was, and used to proudly say) “NOT a runner.” That all changed last year, after he carried a five-gallon jug of water during the 6K for Water.
“How hard can it be?” he opined, later admitting it was the hardest physical challenge he’d ever endured. What’s more: young girls in Africa do this every day.
Dawson carried 5 gallon (40 lb) jerrycan full of water on the loop back
As the father of two daughters, he wanted to do it for them, and with them.
It wasn’t long until one step led to another as Dawson got motivated to change his life habits and patterns. We joke together that we who have so much comfort get most active when trying to get comfortable. It’s been fun to see him pursue discomfort. A few months into his running journey, accompanied with a plan of bodyweight exercises for whole health, and getting serious about the food the family ate together, Dawson asked if I’d select a course for a run test.
Taking last year’s 6K for Water signs, we set up a simple out-and-back course. He wanted to run at 6:00 AM on Monday morning, because that’s when his body wouldn’t feel like it. Plus, the early dark hours are when women and children must go the distance to fetch water.
During the effort, empowered by God’s Grace, Dawson reflected on his reasons to get healthy. I made him bark out the reasons: that he wanted to be healthy to play with his kids, and one day hold their kids. He ran further than he ever had before, beat his goal time, and afterward I knighted him, “You, my friend, are a runner.”
My friend could change his life because someone came to run alongside him. And it hit us that this is what we get to do for those in Africa, Haiti, and India. Let us run with endurance their race alongside, for Jesus and all His saints attest it is worth it, and this life of faith can be run. In the most practical ways, clean water unlocks all their potential, and allows them to flourish in this life, learning of the One who offers them eternal life.
Setting audacious goals
Hunter family ready for the 6K for Water
Dawson and his wife Anna are now the 6K for Water host-site leaders for Team Renew for Water (join or donate here). We’ve set an even more ambitious goal, to more than double last year’s goal of providing water for 116 children. Let’s go for 250 or more! (Actually, let’s make it 500.)
We’ve set an ambitious goal as church family. If we say “we’re a family of missionary servants,” that means we must also become willing to get uncomfortable and be inconvenienced. It starts with leaders who embrace and embody these truths.
Dawson and Anna now have the personal credibility to challenge everyone in the church to sign up, and offer a simple invitation for global change: we get to be a part of this! Of course, it’s just one hour for a 6K, and the inconvenience of fifty bucks. While I’m not convinced the imperative will work for everyone, we won’t stop the constant reminders, like a leaky faucet of clean water. I know the personal invitations offered with care and insistence will work.
Dawson’s oldest daughter Reagan asked if she could run with him. So one recent Saturday morning Dad delayed the day’s workout until she was awake. They laced up and ran a lap around the driveway. On the second lap Reagan stopped, revealing disappointment. What’s a matter? Reagan confided,
“I thought we were going running! Where are all the kids, where’s the face-painting, and the snacks?”
Her mind connected to the last time she ran with Daddy: amidst a big party, at a park where the 6K for Water started and ended. And while she may not (yet) grasp the whole run-for-others, it’s clear Dawson gets it.
Think about those 200 million (daily) hours noted above. These are women and children who matter.
They deserve access clean water. We can redeem their time and provide this water.
Since this week was World Water Day, you’re invited to use registration code WWD2017 for $10 off registration for both adults ($40 instead of $50) and children under age 15 ($15 instead of $25) — through Sunday night, March 26th).
originally posted on the World Vision Churches blog