Faith at Work XXXVIII

October 2007

As far as I know, there have been no hosepipe bans this year – instead there has been a lot of effort going in to dealing with floods and restoring piped water to those cut off earlier in the year and ensuring that supplies have been fit to drink.  Finding clean water has been very difficult for some and deliveries have been made which have often run out far too quickly.  Getting back on to a piped supply has been a top priority in many areas, but it must be very difficult to gauge when to say that the water is fit for drinking; it can only be done by careful sampling and statistical assessment, such as is done by one of the companies on the Science Park where I visit.

Having too little water is just as serious a problem – there are many places in the world where the rains have failed, the crops haven’t grown, what little water that there is cannot possibly be kept clean enough for all the purposes for which it is needed.  It can all be explained of course – the weather patterns are analysed endlessly and we know a lot more than we used to, and other things get in the way too.  But knowing all that and responding adequately to the enormous need that there is across the world is desperately difficult to achieve.  In 1977, a UN Conference at Mar del Plata agreed there should be an International Drinking Water Decade, 1981-1990.

In 2003, the UN General Assembly proclaimed a new initiative: that 2005-2015 should be the International Decade for Action – Water for Life.  Are the aims this time more cautious, or more realistic?  The first decade sought to get clean water to everyone; this second one seeks to halve the proportion (not even the number!) of people unable to reach or afford safe drinking water.  The “Water for Life” Decade has been timed to coincide with that of Education for Sustainable Development, also 2005-2015.  We pray that we may make more progress this time around.  It reminds me of the comparison Jesus makes when he asks the Samaritan woman for water at the well, saying: “the water that I give will become a spring of water gushing up to eternal life” [John 4:14].  The source of spiritual enlightenment is always with us to draw on and be inspired by, though we will find that we have to work at that too.  The Mennonites make a similar comparison in their prayer:

O God, pour out on us the water of life
that we may quench our thirst
and draw our strength from you.
Help us to stand alongside those
who struggle daily for clean water
so that all may be
refreshed and renewed by your love.

This site was developed to contain work by Mike Fox relating to the WMMTC course
and subsequent experience during ministry in the parish of Codsall and the BCUIM.
This page was last updated on 2007-09-11

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