One Important Word That Appears in the Bible 722 Times

Gary Edmonds is president and CEO of Food for the Hungry.
Gary Edmonds is president and CEO of Food for the Hungry.

What do these bible quotes all have in common? ...

I was thirsty and you gave me drink... [Matthew 25:35, 40]

But let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream. [Amos 5:24]

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If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, 'Give me a drink,' you would have asked that person who would then have given you living water. [John 4:10]

And whoever gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because that little one is a disciple, truly, I say to you, the giver shall not go unrewarded. [Matthew 10:42]

On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and proclaimed, "Let anyone who thirsts come to me and drink... [John 7:37]

After this Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the scripture), 'I thirst.' [John 19:28]

Water is named in the Bible 722 times. Perhaps it is no accident that water is the only symbol shared by all world religions. This sacred symbol cleanses and purifies. It baptizes our children. Yet for hundreds of millions of people around the world, water condemns generations to sickness and poverty.

Today is World Water Day. Perhaps there is no better time to appreciate the role water plays in our rituals and in our lives; and dare to take a look at what life looks like without it. Like for one a little boy whose name just happens to be Cristian.

Cristian turned up in a volunteer health clinic organized by American Baptists, with an eye infection. The doctors were quick to diagnose a preventable infection called a Neglected Tropical Disease. NTDs are common and because they spread through unsafe water, they target the global poor, especially children. Some 1.4 billion people suffer from NTDs, 500 million are children.

Cristian's family lives in the poor outskirts of the capital city of Honduras where water is a pathway to disease. Cristian's eye infection wasn't just preventable it was also treatable, but that required clean water. His parents watched his infection develop into a tumor that spread over parts of his face. Cristian suffered for two years and when he was 11-years-old, he died of complications from a preventable and treatable disease, simply because his family did not have access to clean water.

This problem is solvable. Since 1990, 2.3 billion people around the world have gained access to improved water. But if we are to meet the needs of the 663 million people who still do not have access to safe water, and the 2.4 billion who lack the safety and dignity of a toilet, far greater commitment is required by all of us.

Solving this problem is more than a moral call to give water to the thirsty. It's in all our best interests. Some fifty different diseases and illnesses are traced back to unsafe water. As we continue to rely on antibiotics to cure infections, rather than prevent them, we're all heading down a new and dangerous road that leads to a world before antibiotics. Drug resistance is a rapidly growing global threat. In fact, many of the common antibiotics we've all come to rely on are no longer effective and very few new ones are in development.

Every infection prevented is one that needs no treatment. Which means prioritizing access to safe Water, basic Sanitation, and Hygiene education are the very best ways to secure health security for all. The solution is called WASH.

At Food for the Hungry we work with communities to develop water systems for agriculture and clean water, so women and girls don't spend their days fetching dirty water rather than caring for families or going to school.

In this day and age, no child should die for the lack water, whether his name is Cristian, or you are Christian. When we commit to a clean glass of water in the hands of every child, it is then that we can transform water from the disease-ridden burden that it is, into the source of health, life and peace it is meant to be.

Gary Edmonds is President and CEO of Food for the Hungry, a relief and development organization of Christian motivation that works in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

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