What does clean water do?

Last Friday I shared with three fifth grade classes about the global water crisis. And what clean water does. 

In our brief time together I shared the story of two five-year-olds girls in Kenya and how clean water has the power to free a child to flourish in life, in whole communities. While I spoke broadly of this the direst of all global crises, the reality of 1,000 children dying today due to diarrhea from lack of clean water and sanitation can only hit us if we consider children are real people, and we enter their story. 

Children make the long walk home with containers of polluted water they scooped from holes they dug in a dry riverbed. (Note: Cheru out of the frame in these photos.) Carrying a tea kettle, Cheru Lotuliapus, 5, (wearing red skirt and green shirt below) walks with other children twice a day to dig for water in a dry riverbed in West Pokot, Kenya. A first-year kindergarten student, she carries water to school and returns home by way of the waterhole to refill her kettle. With other school children, she walks more than 6km a day for water.
Kenya (West Pokot County). Location: Ptoyo; sublocation: Kesot; village: Chepoyotwo. Sook program area

What is the power of clean water? What does it do?

Consider how two five-year-olds, Cheru and Kamama, who live near one another in Kenya. Yet their days and lives are vastly different due to one difference: Continue reading

 

Running their race for water with them

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.

6K for Water

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

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?”

6K for Water kids bibsHer 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.

Would you give one hour to change that?

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
 

Racing for Water with urgency & not with haste.

Race day is here. The last few days have been restful work and play. Today we go for it.

#899, racing for Team World Vision

#899, racing for Team World Vision

This journey began the first of the year to attempt to raise funds for World Vision water projects as a noble goal much bigger than self-improvement. I enjoy physical training and yet the challenge has been much bigger than just waking up at 4 AM every day with intention. My initial goal was $5K, providing life-giving water for 100 kids in East Africa. Last month we surpassed that, and take we’ve gone further together to bring water to 128 kids ($6,402). I’ve since raised the goal to $7,030, which would mean two kids receive water for each mile I endure on Sunday. The more given, the faster I will swim, bike, and run.

There’s is the real endurance, and the true heroes must make the trek for water, unclean water at that,
In fact, every minute a child under five dies of diarrhea caused by contaminated water, poor sanitation, and improper hygiene.

Water-Effect-every-5-min_1024x530

With the collective efforts of donors and workers with World Vision, the water effect has been huge: every thirty seconds water is provided for another person! So, the gap is close, and we can go there with more urgency.

$50 = clean water for 1 person

Many have asked about the race on Sunday. It’s called Ironman Arizona 70.3 (IMAZ 70.3 for short), and the “70.3” notes the total miles. It’s a Half-Ironman (which are 140.6 miles), and I hope to cover the 1.2-mile swim in 30-35 minutes, the 56-mile bike ride in 2:40—2:55, and the 13.1-mile half-marathon run in about 1:40-ish. It will be a hot day out there, and an optimal race will have me finishing about the same time as my brother John, in about five hours (we hope).

Processed with VSCO with 4 preset Continue reading

 

Thirty-eight words on the occasion of turning 38.

This week I fade from mid-thirties to “late-thirties,” and so hit pause to consider the milestone and road ahead. A summary in thirty-eight words:

RunningShadow of life lengthens,
While the spark inside brightens.
The path to joy becomes clearer, obedience lonelier.
Healed back, finding strength, embracing weakness.
What makes a man? Not what … WHO!
Finish well.
In lieu of presents … GIVE WATER! 1

Family finish line

An estimation of times and efforts for Saturday’s solo training race:

Loneliman 38.3

Will you join in to provide life-saving water for 100 kids in Africa? (Every $50 provides water for life!) Team World Vision

  1. Access to Clean Water is a deep need for more than 700 million people, who are left alone to cope. Let’s do something about it. Will you join me? As part of a training regimen to raise donations for life-giving world projects, I’ll be competing solo this Saturday in the Loneliman 38.3, and while training for October’s bigger race, Ironman AZ 70.3. I promise to swimbikerun faster as you give!
 

Enduring even further, for their sake (IMAZ 70.3)

I’m participating in IRONMAN Arizona 70.3 on October 16th, 2016, racing for Team World Vision to help provide clean water for kids and families in Africa! The needs are real, and there is something we can do!
Water-Effect-every-5-min_1024x530$50 = clean water for 1 person

I believe that Every Child Deserves Clean Water!
Do you? If so, please consider a donation of any size!
Thanks for your support!

Father-son joy! We did it, son.

Father-son joy! We did it, son.

Last year we set a modest goal of $1,500 while I trained for a sprint triathlon. In hopes of staying motivated I personally promised to match the amount raised if I finished the race in first place. (What happened? Read about it here, but suffice to say it was the best Father’s Day I can remember.)

We did much more than I even dreamed. Together we teamed up to provide life-changing water for more than 100 children in Africa!

Let’s do it again this year!

I’ll do the training and sweating, more than quadrupling the distance in this year’s race. It’s called a Half IRONMAN — or “70.3” (seventy-point-three) for the total miles. For about five hours I’ll endure and push my body to full exertion.

What drives me forward is thinking about those children who long to have life-changing water. Let’s provide it for them!

» Give CLEAN WATER!

every-child-deserves-clean-water Continue reading

 

I care. And so I tri. (How did the race go?)

On the first day of Summer, which happened to be Father’s Day, I competed in a sprint triathlon here in Oregon City. Here’s a bit about how I did, and especially WHY I raced in this fundraiser for Team World Vision. Some of you gave (Thank You!), and many have asked “How did the race go?” Plus, a new and different race is just around the corner.

Team World Vision » triathlon

This was my second attempt at a triathlon, as I did this same one here in our backyard in 2014. As one who has endured some acute and chronic injuries1 since high school, I found a cross-training balance has improved my life in immeasurable ways.

AeromanOne of my brothers compelled me to start training as I observed his legit endurance. He’s competed in multiple cycling races and a few years ago became a triathlete. He’s conquered every distance up through Ironman2 and this Fall we’ll be there cheering him on at Ironman Arizona. (His new goal is to go sub-ten-hours, which means he will likely pass some pros.) We train virtually together from afar; swimming-biking-running has become an enjoyable triad, a shared experience for us.

This race was about much more than a triathlon, though. “Sprinting” for an hour or so was the easy part. The real challenge is the six kilometer plus daily hike women and children in East Africa have to endure just to get water for the day. Every day, multiply times for so many, hauling many gallons and dozens of pounds at once. All for un-clean water! It’s exhausting, dangerous, and yet this problem is solvable. Through the community development efforts of World Vision, partnering with countless local and national organizations, clean water can be accessible for the poorest of the poor. Lives can be rebuilt, children have new opportunities, women can flourish as made in God’s image. Their sufferings are ours to lean into, to be part of what God can do, if we will care.

Clean WaterIn Africa they say, “Water is Life.” About 768 million people in the world lack access to safe water.

Lack of clean water is the number one preventable cause of death in the world. Women and children often walk 6 kilometers or more each way, two to three times a day, to gather water that isn’t even safe to drink; for water that could kill them.

It was an extraordinary experience doing fundraising while training, gaining confidence each time I told others about why I wanted, scratch that, they needed to give. At first I was apologetic about it, and then I realized that no apologies are needed, and I couldn’t be ah-shucks about it: kids are dying and through us be given a whole new opportunity in life.

When I broke it down that $50 provides water for one child in East Africa FOR LIFE, then people started to take notice.

That’s why I tri-ed.

I’ve been asked: How did I do in the actual race?

I trained long and hard, enjoying it all. Besides thinking about and praying for the kids who will no longer thirst, the hour or two every morning is the highlight of each day. This was my second triathlon (sprint: 800m swim » 12mi bike » 5K run) so I am still a total newbie, especially on transitions, and I usually feel like I’ll drown on the swim.

Running with Heidi

Running with Heidi

The best part is how our kids got involved, cheering me on in training. Nearly all my training times are complete before 6:45 AM every day, so they usually don’t see me out there running, biking, even swimming. (They see me spent and sweaty afterward, though.)

But Dutch and Heidi asked me about it, and ask if they could “train” with me, so we’d go out front and run some sprints, or ride bikes a few dozen times up and down the block. Then it occurred to my wife Kari and I to connect our extra giving to this vital need. We decided that if I placed third overall we would donate $500, second place would be $1,000, and first place overall would have us matching the $1,500 goal.

Happy finish (& a leg massage)I was the first one to cross the finish line, by a few minutes, which made my family think I won it. (Our kids were so enthusiastic!) Alas, I knew the athlete — another pastor named Jeff as well — I passed to start the 5K run not only beat me last year by a good margin, but he started behind me in a different wave by at least 5 minutes. I kept thinking, somehow I need to gain 5 minutes in these 5 kilometers. If only I could have matched my personal best in a 5K to end the race! Fatigue set in and the mind games started. Don’t slow down!

Nothing topped this hug at the finish line …
Father-son joy!  We did it, son.

Yet we were so stoked with the finish, and I couldn’t say ‘no’ to our kids (nor to those kids in Africa!), so we happily matched the $1,500 to make it $3,000 for clean water. That made the whole race so much more enjoyable. Announced at Renew Church that morning when I arrived late, thankfully not preaching a sermon that day. Best Father’s Day I can remember.

Official results:

Official times2nd place overall, 1st in age group

Swim 800m: 13:04 (+ half mile run extra transition)
Bike 12mi+: 36:38
Run 5K: 20:08
===========

Total 1:15:56

Afterwards a few of the sponsored triathletes I passed asked about my Team World Vision race kit and if I was “sponsored by World Vision.” Got to explain how it works the other way around (!) and share about the project.

Which brings me to another race I was just asked last week to join. This one is more ambitious, and I get to do the easy part of training and running, and you get the joy and challenge of providing life-changing water for more kids!

Team World Vision » Hood to Coast

The New Race: On August 28-29th I’ll be running, fundraising to provide life-changing water and resources for the world’s youngest nation, South Sudan. Working with the 4 South Sudan organization (founded by US Olympian Lopez Lomong, one of South Sudan’s “Lost Boys”), Team World Vision has ten teams participating in Hood-to-Coast, the world’s largest relay running race.

How about we aim to support 200 now?! $10,000 will provide water for TWO HUNDRED children FOR LIFE!

In joining a Team World Vision running team during the Hood-to-Coast relay, a total of 120 runners on ten teams are seeking to collectively raise one million dollars. Most of my new teammates are raising $10,000 each. Since I’m new to this party, let’s try to catch up. Okay?

Thanks for your support! » Please Give at teamworldvision.renewjeff.com.
—Jeff

(p.s., Many companies have programs to provide matching gifts.)

World Vision works with communities in desperate need to help provide things like clean water, nutritious food, education, medical care, and economic opportunity.

World Vision has the largest privately funded water initiative on the continent of Africa.

Clean water is a problem for which there is a solution. World Vision is the leading organizations bringing clean/safe water to communities in Africa in a sustainable way. When a community gains access to clean water:

  • Child mortality rates can be cut in half
  • Children enrolled in school can increase by as much as 80%
  • Women can begin working to provide for their family
  • Individuals and communities are changed in almost every way

  1. A couple challenging injuries include: a broken vertebrae at age 16 (never completely healed), and later ran over left foot in Jeep Wrangler a decade ago.
  2. An Iron-distance or official “Ironman” triathlon is 140.6 total miles in three legs: starting with a 2.4 mile swim, transitioning to a 112 mile bike ride, and then capping it off with a marathon. Yep, run 26.2 miles to finish.
 

Father’s Day Race to Give Kids Life!

In Africa they say, “Water is Life.” About 768 million people in the world lack access to safe water.

It is the number one preventable cause of death in the world. Women and children often walk 6 miles or more each way two to three times a day to gather water that isn’t even safe to drink, water that could kill them.

Through Team World Vision, $50 will provide clean water for one person for a lifetime!

Continue reading