Making a Difference… Changing Lives

Last year I for my birthday I asked you to give money to the group charity:water — and amazing organization that travels around drilling clean water wells in third world countries. I detailed for you the incredible ripple effects that giving clean water causes throughout a village. And we had the opportunity to join together and help fund a water drilling rig that would go drill wells in the nation of Ethiopia. Many of you responded and we raised $640.00 toward that drilling rig. You guys are awesome.

This past week, I received this note in my e-mail (many of you who donated received the same one):

The rig you funded drilled its first well!

A few weeks ago, the first of the two rigs broke ground drilling its first well in Merara Village. Hours into the drill, it hit a massive aquifer of pure ground water. Soon, 450 lives here will change. And that’s just the beginning. 

Each rig will go on to drill 80 new wells, and together they’ll change 80,000 lives —every single year for the next 15 years.  

Now that is awesome. You helped make this happen. You literally changed the lives of 450 people in that village. You saved their lives, gave them safety, hope, security, and a chance for an education and equality. You did it.

You brought about a piece of the Kingdom of God here on earth.

Way to go. It is so amazing to see what you’ve done, you should go donate to charity:water again!

In relation to this great news, I found this article from Christianity Today very interesting. The magazine brought together a panel of economists to rate which methods of charity were actually most effective. They ranked the ten strategies presented to them as follows:

  1. Giving clean water to rural villages
  2. Funding de-worming treatments for children
  3. Providing mosquito nets
  4. Sponsoring a child
  5. Give word-burning stoves
  6. Microfinance loans
  7. Fund reparative surgeries
  8. Donate farm animals
  9. Drink fair-trade coffee
  10. Provide laptops for children in developing countries

As you can see, giving clean water came in as the #1 most effective method of charity. It’s not surprising, really, when you consider the truth of charity:water’s slogan: Water changes everything.

Thanks for being a part of bringing the Kingdom of God to Ethiopia for my birthday. It is an incredible thing to join God in his restorative work. Please keep it up!

Water and the Gospel

What does clean water have to do with the gospel?

That all depends on what you believe the gospel is.

To me, one of the biggest travesties that has beset the modern church is that we understand the restorative purpose of God as applying only to individual humans, and only to the realm of the spiritual.

I believe the story of Scripture tells us that God desires not only to restore the spirituality of individual humans, but also to restore communities. To restore nature. To restore life to what he intends it to be.

And where that happens, where things are set right, the Kingdom of God appears. And that’s the gospel: that the Kingdom of God has come to earth. To stay. To put things back together.

As ambassadors of that kingdom, we carry that message of hope: that the world is being put back together. And we back that message up with action, because God has done the miraculous: he chose us to make that change happen.

So what does clean water have to do with the gospel? Everything. Giving clean water restores hope for individuals and entire communities. It breaks the yoke of oppression for women. It looses the bonds of injustice. It saves the dying. It brings good news to the poor.

It gives a glimpse of what life, restored, looks like. And that glimpse stirs peoples’ hearts to know the Restorer.

Here’s the deal. My birthday week is drawing to a close, but this campaign for clean water is not. Personal campaigns at charity:water last 75 days. So if you haven’t given yet, you still have ample opportunity to. Like two more months to. But please, don’t wait that long. Help us all to be encouraged together as we watch the cumulative total of our efforts rise.

I am proud of this little community we have going here. So far, we’ve raised more than $500.00 for charity:water! Way to go, guys. That is an awesome birthday present. Thank you so much.

This week, we are on track to have nearly 500 visits to this blog – and there have been six families who have donated. I’m eternally grateful to them! I am also praying that many more will partner with them in the coming days.

Because it’s not just water we’re providing. It’s life. Freedom. Salvation. It’s the gospel.

Use the link below to donate to our drilling rig project at charity:water!


This is Ethiopia:

This is Ethiopia:

This is Ethiopia:

With your help, this could be Ethiopia:

Charity:water was begun five years ago by a New York City nightclub promoter who felt unhappy and empty – and who desperately desired to rekindle a faith in Jesus. He arrived in Africa with the missions organization Mercy Ships, and what he saw there broke his heart. Soon after, he started charity:water with the goal of bringing clean drinking water to African villages where tens of thousands of people were dying of dehydration or illness caused by bacteria in unsafe water. In the five years since, they have given the gift of clean, drinkable water to more than two million people across the world.

Their process is simple: they raise money, use the money to send a drilling rig to a village that has sought help, the rig drills a well, and folks have clean water. It’s really that simple.

Two million people is a lot of transformed lives and villages. But it’s a small dent in the nearly 1 billion people who need it. Now charity:water wants to expand and purchase more drilling rigs so they can drill more wells and bring clean water to even more people more quickly. And that’s what this birthday challenge is going toward — purchasing a drilling rig that will travel throughout the nation of Ethiopia to drill these wells. You will play a direct role in making clean water possible for the children of Ethiopia with your donation!

Here’s the amazing part of the work that charity:water does… At the foundational level, water provides life. It keeps people – especially children – from dying. But there is such an intricately woven web of life, economy, and society that is all affected by something as simple as water. Water is where it starts. But providing clean water sends a ripple effect throughout nearly every part of society.

Consider that in these villages, it takes 3 or more hours a day for women and children to gather water (and it’s dirty water they’re gathering anyway). That is time everyday that these women and children are not spending getting an education, developing skills, selling goods in the marketplaces, or taking care of their families.

That’s time everyday when they are susceptible to rapists, thieves, and kidnappers. That’s time spent developing bad backs and broken bodies from hauling the heavy loads miles at a time.

By providing clean water just 15 minutes or less away, children are freed to pursue an education. Women are freed to get job training or develop marketable skills. And the basic economy of villages and the surrounding regions are given the chance to explode, lifting people out of poverty. In fact, charity:water estimates “every dollar invested in improved water access and sanitation yields an average of $12 in economic returns.”

Getting a well through charity:water even provides for increased gender equality in these villages (even beyond the fact that young girls can now get educations) because of the process they use. After a charity:water rig (like the one you are helping to purchase) drills a well, the organization doesn’t just call it good and leave. They have a team of people who teach the villagers basic hygiene and sanitation practices. And then they do something really cool: have the villagers elect a Water Committee that is responsible for leading the village in the oversight and maintenance of the new well. And that Committee must include both men and women – and often gives women the first opportunity to serve in a leadership capacity.

So you see, something as simple as a single well brings the promise of life, reduction of disease, access to education, relief of poverty, growth of economy, equality, and so much more.

As charity:water puts it, water changes everything.

Today is my birthday — and in the words of charity:water, this year I’m giving up my birthday. I am not asking for anything for myself this year; instead, I’m asking you to donate to my charity:water campaign so we can get this gift of clean water to more people in Ethiopia.

When the drilling rig you help buy goes out to drill wells, it’ll be tracked by GPS so we can all watch as it brings life to villages across that impoverished nation. Please, use the link below to donate. And please share the link on Facebook, Twitter, your blog, or however else you see fit and encourage other people to give.

I’ve got an abundance of stuff, including unfettered access to all the clean water I want. This year for my birthday, please join with me in giving clean water to Ethiopia.

Use Worldly Money to Make Friends

Luke records a strange saying of Jesus in chapter 16 of his narrative:

“I tell you: use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when the wealth is gone, they may welcome you into eternal dwellings.”

At first blush, this appears awkward to us: are we supposed to buy friends? But in the words that Luke records here (undoubtedly a snippet of a larger teaching on the subject), Jesus is actually laying out quite a complex and beautiful perspective.

Wealth is good if used properly. Wealth will eventually always fail or be gone. People are the most important thing in the Kingdom of God. God uses us to impact other people and help them put their worlds back together the way they were intended.

If all four of those statements are true – and I believe they are – then the end result is Jesus’ teaching: put into more modern terms, blow your money on impacting people for the Kingdom. It’s the best way to spend your worldly wealth.

Use it to make someone’s life better. When it comes time to pass into eternity, the folks you impacted will be there to welcome you.

And so that’s what I’m asking you to do by giving up my birthday this year: blow your money on people. Give someone the incredibly powerful blessing of clean water. Help make this world look more like the one God intended.

Go to the link below and donate. You can make a difference in somebody’s life by yourself. And together with everyone who reads this blog, we can make a huge difference. Let’s do this together!

For My Birthday This Year, I Want Clean Water

How much do you rely on clean water throughout your everyday life — to take a shower, to drink, to cook with, to wash things with? Can you imagine not having clean water? I mean, not having it at all?

In my house, we have three faucets, a spigot, and a water line hooked up to our washing machine and refrigerator. All six of them produce fresh, clean water in an instant. You probably have a similar situation in your house.

Now imagine needing water to drink or to give your children to drink, but imagine having to walk for two or three hours to get to the closest source of water — and knowing that water is teeming with bacteria that will kill a human being from the inside out. But if you don’t drink it, if you don’t give it to your children to drink, then they don’t drink anything and they die of dehydration.

It’s an impossible, heart-wrenching, painful scenario. And it’s one that is a reality for approximately 1 out of every 8 people on the planet.

30,000 people die every week from diseases contracted from unsafe drinking water. 90% of those deaths are kids under 5 years old. That’s my kids’ age.

One of my top-of-the-list, favorite, amazing charities out there right now is charity:water. This organization drills wells to provides water purification systems for villages of people around the world. Because of charity:water and the people who donate to them, many moms can now walk 15 minutes to the village well instead of 3 hours and pump clean water for their children almost as easily as you can go and turn on your kitchen tap. And the efficiency with which charity:water does it is impressive: they estimate for just $20, you can give one person clean water for the rest of their life. Twenty bucks and one person will not have to be included in that 30,000 statistic again. Twenty bucks — less than we spend on one meal out — and somebody’s life is transformed and set free forever.

Charity:water has this cool thing they call “giving up your birthday.” I’ve seen a few other bloggers I follow do this for their birthdays over the past couple of years, and I am excited to announce that I am giving up my birthday this year as well.

What this means is that for my birthday — which falls on Wednesday, October 26 — I am asking for just one thing: I would love it if you would donate to charity:water and give someone this gift of clean drinking water. In honor of my 32nd birthday, you can give $32, or $320. Or give $20 or whatever the heck you want to give! It’s so easy, and it’s such a life-changing way to spend your money.

I’ve set up a personal campaign page at charity:water so we, as a community of friends and family, can see our money being combined and put together for this amazing purpose:

Click that link to donate through my campaign page and help us reach our goal.

Speaking of goals, I’ve set a ridiculous one for this project: $3,200. On average, I have anywhere from 40-100 people read each post I write here at Reflected Riddles. If you divide that out, that’s a pretty high average gift needed to reach our goal. But I’m hoping this goes beyond our little community from this corner of the internet. Share that link above — or a link to this blog — on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and however else you want to. Let’s get a ton of people involved in this incredible opportunity together!

All week this week, I’ll be writing blogs about this topic — the work of charity:water, joining with God to restore his creation, and the beauty of taking part in something like this. Stop by the comments and let us know how you’re taking part by saying something like, “I just gave somebody clean drinking water” when you donate.

It’s my birthday week this week – and the only thing on my wish list this year is for you to give someone the gift of clean water. Let’s do this together!