Question about Professional Skills for missionaries:

"How can providing clean water fit with missions?"

"Water projects can be an open door for the gospel."

Answer from Ric, who serves with Open Doors in Tulsa.

Our ministry has helped to provide shallow tube wells in Bangladesh for the past several years. Some years after initiating this project, it was discovered that many of the tube wells (like those we were placing) were being contaminated by naturally occurring arsenic. The ramifications were both physical and social. People were slowly dying of arsenic poisoning and young women in the effected villages were being shunned by male counterparts. WHO, UNICEF, and other NGOs began the process of investigating the situation and held conferences with people flying in from all over the world. Their conclusion was that there were few simple, inexpensive, or permanent solutions to the problem.

When visiting in Bangladesh, I arranged for water samples from 20 of the wells we had provided to be brought back with me to the US and tested by an environmental laboratory in Tulsa. None of those 20 samples showed levels of arsenic high enough to cause immediate concern. Unfortunately, the arsenic problem is idiopathic; arising spontaneously one day, only to be absent another.

Consequently, your call to ministry and missions through water quality/purification resonates with me. Potable water is sometimes unavailable to Christians when members of other majority religions own the wells. Helping them to learn how to get and maintain the source of good water is so important. What a great segue exists to help people understand the importance of "living water."

Editor's Note: also contact Living Water International and ask their counsel. Also try Lifewater and EMI. The September 2013 issue of Mission Frontiers is focused on water and missions.

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