When popular pastor and author Max Lucado, along with his wife, Denalyn, visited Ethiopia in 2009, he witnessed two vastly different communities. The experience changed his life.
In one community, children and animals drank out of the same muddy pit at the bottom of a ravine. In the other, flourishing farmland stretched into the distance, fed by a concrete canal with clean water flowing freely, providing ample food and drink to families.
“As many times as we tell each other that water is a basic essential to life,” says Max, who grew up in arid West Texas, “I don’t think I realized it until I visited some parts of the world that suffer from the lack of clean drinking water as well as irrigation water for their fields and farms.”
Max and Denalyn, who sponsor five children with World Vision, also saw firsthand how child sponsorship helps provide this life-giving clean water by enabling World Vision to stay in communities for more than a decade and build the partnerships and infrastructure necessary to make water programs sustainable.
“Most of the people in western churches may have wonderful hearts, but we don’t have a clue how to get water to that little kid in Ethiopia,” Max says. “That’s the role of World Vision in the kingdom.”
Following their time in Ethiopia, Max and Denalyn decided to partner with World Vision specifically to provide clean water to millions living in rural communities. Diseasefree water, he says, not only brings new life and health to a community. It also demonstrates the love of Jesus — the Source of living water — and creates time and opportunities for conversations about the gospel.
“If your whole day is fetching water, boiling it, and making sure your kids have enough water to get by, then you’re not going to have the luxury or privilege of thinking about spiritual things,” he says.
Max and Denalyn recently demonstrated their commitment to providing clean water for those in greatest need by selling their home and donating part of the proceeds to World Vision’s water work in Ethiopia. Max cited Matthew 25:31-46 as a motivator.
“I wish that text said, ‘I needed a sermon, and you preached one,’ or ‘I needed a book, and you wrote one,’” he says. “But the truth of the matter is the first fruit of the saved is a sense of compassion for those who don’t have anything. All of us can give somebody something to drink. Not everybody can write a book, but everybody can give somebody some food. All of us can do something.”