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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Waters of life

Precious gift, human necessity

"Give me a drink.” Jesus’ request of the Samaritan woman at the well was spoken centuries ago. But it is the daily plea of those who lack access to a reliable source of clean water—one in six of the world’s people.

“I am thirsty.” Jesus’ anguished words from the cross echo throughout our world today. The statistics are incomprehensible. This year 5 million people, 4 million of them children, will die from waterborne infectious diseases—10 times the number of people killed in wars.

I take water for granted and assume there will be clean water for drinking and cooking, warm water for cleansing and fresh water for our garden. My travels have shaken me out of complacency, however. When I witness women walking for hours and then standing in line to fill a bucket with water, I realize both the precious gift and human necessity of water.

As we become aware of the scarcity of clean water, the temptation will be to turn it into a commodity for profit in an increasingly competitive and global economy. The crisis calls for public and private sectors to collaborate so accessibility to clean water becomes a basic human right available to all rather than a luxury affordable only to a few.


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