Water is critical for existence. Used for cooking, cleaning, and bathing, water covers nearly 70% of the earth’s surface and composes 65% of every human being. In some places there is too much and flooding occurs, whereas in other areas not enough water is available or it is too contaminated to use. For many people who live near an ocean, river, or lake, the presence of water comes as second nature in their lives. In places of scarcity, it is highly valued.
In Laos the water is undrinkable. Bottled water is used, which is imported from Thailand. Many Lao people, usually in rural villages, still do not have access to clean bottled water and are more prone to illness. Water is often limited for cooking, cleaning, and bathing. At one of the homes in which I lived, we showered and washed clothes with a bucket, but at time we were without water for a few hours or more at a time. This is a common experience in many Lao homes. Living in Laos also allowed me to experience the monsoon season, often another source of water issues.
The Lao Evangelical Church, a Global Ministries partner, and the Lao Church in the United States are, however, bringing hope to this situation. Since 2000, the churches have been working together to install water systems in Lao villages. The water systems are important because they not improve the health and well-being of residents.
While access to potable water is vital for life, Lao Christians also find joy, peace, and love from a different type of water, the living water of Christ. They have the living water of Jesus in their hearts and lives, and their lives can be represented by John 4:14. In this passage, as Jesus speaks to the Samaritan woman at the well, he tells her that “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
During this time of Lent and in anticipation of Easter and resurrection celebrations, we are reminded of newness and hope. In this same spirit, the living water of Christ and the creation of water systems around Laos provide bright, promising, and hopeful lives for many people.
Nicole Betteridge serves as a Global Mission Intern with the Lao Evangelical Church.