Killing Ourselves

I don’t know the suffering of people outside my front door / I join the oppressors of those I choose to ignore / I’m trading comfort for human life / and that’s not just murder it’s suicide / This too shall be made right //

These lyrics were written by Derek Webb, a spokesman for Blood:Water Mission, for the closing song on his new CD, The Ringing Bell. As the name of this blog attests, I want to rebel against indifference. That includes indifference toward others’ needs. And not because I might occasionally feel a tinge of guilt for not helping others but because I believe it does something to us when we ignore those around us.

In an interview Derek did recently with The Washington Times, while talking about what he is rebelling against and his involvement with Blood:Water Mision, he said “A mother and her children who have to walk 15 miles a day every day to get dirty water to put into their bodies with a broken immune system that will eventually kill them is the right thing to rebel against.”

As someone who loves beverages, from a cup of hot coffee in the morning to juice and tea throughout the day to a glass of wine or a Guinness over dinner, it’s sometimes hard for me to imagine going without something as basic as clean water. But unfortunately, it is a fact of life for many people, and a foundational cause of many diseases. Dr. Lee Jong-wook, former Director-General of the World Health Organization, has said “Water and Sanitation is one of the primary drivers of public health. I often refer to it as ‘Health 101,’ which means that once we can secure access to clean water and to adequate sanitation facilities for all people, irrespective of the difference in their living conditions, a huge battle against all kinds of diseases will be won.”.

Blood:Water Mission, a non-profit organization started by the guys in Jars of Clay, is helping to address this problem.

Blood:Water Mission exists to promote clean blood and clean water efforts in Africa, tangibly reducing the impact of the HIV/AIDS pandemic while addressing the underlying issues of poverty, injustice and oppression. Blood:Water Mission is building clean water wells, supporting medical facilities, and focusing on community and worldview transformation, both here in America and in Africa.

We recognize that numbers and statistics are hard to grasp, and that sometimes a step back is necessary to conceptualize the enormity of the HIV/AIDS crisis. Yet we also know that simply standing from a distance with arms thrown in the air is not a solution. We believe in pressing inward, in building relationships and bridges with communities in Africa. We believe in hearing personal stories and walking alongside brothers and sisters who have demonstrated strength and faith in the midst of desperate and tragic situations.

We hold fast to the conviction that we are all responsible for being good stewards of our time, our resources and our compassion in a broken world.

Every person has something to give in return for what has been received.

Please join us on this journey.


How You Can Help:

While Blood:Water has several ways to get involved listed on their website, one of the programs I like most is their Two Weeks of Sacrifice campaign. The gist of it is to encourage people to go for two weeks drinking water as their only beverage, and then donating what you would have spent on other beverages to Blood:Water Mission. You can find more details about that program and other ways you can make a difference at their website,

Toward the end of his song White Dove, Andrew Osenga keeps repeating the line “Every sad thing will become untrue.” As we live in the tension of the already-and-not-yet of the Kingdom of God, as we embrace its paradoxical nature and hope and wait for everything to be made new, let us live our lives today as evidence of the redemptive work of Christ so that others may hear and see the echoes of His Kingdom in all we say and do.

16 thoughts on “Killing Ourselves”

  1. 15 miles a day? I’ve heard about the need for clean drinking water and that some people have to travel long distances to get any water at all, but I don’t think I’ve ever really thought about it.

    It’s crazy how much I take for granted…

    I love that last paragraph of your post.

    Thanks Stephen.

  2. I was thinking the same as Kat while reading this. There are so many things I take for granted.

    I am glad you posted about this organization, I have wanted to know more about it.

  3. Thanks Stephen for that post. It is incredible how much we take for granted! Thank you for enlightening us on that need. I am praying for you today!

  4. In Africa, those long distances are more often than not covered by children – it’s usually the little girls’ job to fetch the water first thing in the morning, and then again at midday and in the evening.

    Thanks for this post, Stephen. We continue to try to believe that this too shall be made right.

  5. I was wondering if anyone else would focus on Blood:Water Mission (as I plan to). Good post, Stephen, and I’m praying for you today.

    Yeah, 15 miles is not uncommon. The children (young girls) who trek for the water expend well over 1000 calories a day just to bring in water to drink – and this on a subsistence diet, leading to a perpetual state of malnourishment. On top of that, it often dashes any chance they might have of education as they miss school to get the water.

  6. Euphrony, that is something I noticed when reading stuff on Blood:Water Mission’s site that I hadn’t thought about before. The wells do more than just provide clean water, they make it possible for the children to get an education, like this paragraph on Blood:Water Mission’s site says:
    Accessible clean water is also very important for women, who are otherwise forced to spend hours each day retrieving water for their families. Having clean water nearby gives women more time to become active in their communities and helps assure that girls can attend school rather than spending their days helping carry water.

  7. Dan Haseltine, lead singer of Jars of Clay, posted this on the Jars blog last week:

    “We are playing tonight for the LifeWater International Conference on Water Development. It has been amazing to feel the weight of what we get to share in. We have been reminded once again, that we are not simply developing programs that benefit communities, but we are saving real lives.

    A friend told us a story about a man in a village taking him to the edge of their community to a cemetary. He pointed to the grave stones, and said that in the last 6 months since they received the clean water well, they have not buried any children.

    It matters!”

  8. I have chosen BWM as well. I also became especially interested in reading how the women and children benefit from having clean water nearby. Moms close to home and children being educated because of a well that finally gives them access to clean water that was there all along. I like the Two Weeks of Sacrifice, too. I’m doing it on my own right now and hope it catches the attention of my kids and maybe a few friends during the two weeks. A good chance to explain why I’m skipping my usual beverage of the moment and how easy it is to be a part of building 1000 wells.

  9. Yikes, but I do actually buy bottled water. If I try that two week thing, I would have to avoid that, in order to have more impact.
    I drink all day long. I can’t imagine not being able to. Thanks for bringing this to light.

  10. When my son was first immunized for the rotovirus, I balked a little. It isn’t deadly, just miserable, so why should I immunize against it? My pediatrician told me that rotovirus – which is just a bad stomach bug – is the number one cause of death in Third World countries. Children catch the virus because of unsanitary conditions, and then die from dehydration, because they don’t have proper access to water. Something that makes me roll my eyes would save the life of another child. Unbelievable.

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