What an incredible week in Colorado with eMi! This past week I was able to attend a Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Summit in Colorado Springs as a representative of eMi along with some of the foremost Christian organizations and advocates for reaching people with the gospel through WASH. I got to meet some incredible people, reconnect with people I have not seen in quite a while, talk vision for the coming WASH program with eMi, and learn a tremendous amount about the global Christian efforts and developments in WASH.
For those that are not familiar with WASH projects, below is some information on the basics of these efforts:
WHAT is WASH? The basic goal of WASH projects are to completely transform communities in the developing world by helping them obtain a sustainable source of clean water while teaching them basic sanitation and hygiene principles.
WHERE are WASH projects? Typically WASH projects are in developing countries in areas of extreme poverty where access to clean water and sanitation are not readily available. People in these areas generally live on less than $2 per day!
WHY get involved in WASH? One of the leading causes of death in the developing world is the lack of access to clean water and improper sanitation and hygiene practices. In fact, one out of five deaths of children ages 5 and under in the developing world is due to waterborne diseases. I should point out that these diseases are COMPLETELY PREVENTABLE, and developed countries (like the US) rarely see deaths resulting from this issue! Improving these conditions not only extend the life expectancy of the people, it can be an agent for complete transformation in a community where economic development is supported and the overall quality of life is enhanced.
WHO is involved in WASH? There are many Christian mission and secular humanitarian organizations involved with these efforts. The main difference between Christian and non-Christian groups that work in WASH is obviously the incorporation of the good news of Jesus Christ as a catalyst for transformation. In order for WASH projects to be successful, there must be a mental and behavioral shift that must take place within the community to foster continuation of the resources and the program after the aiding organization has left. Otherwise, they could end up right back in the same position they were in before “help” arrived. While it is certainly possible for organizations involved strictly in humanitarian efforts to be successful at establishing this community transformation from the outside-in without addressing the spiritual needs, it can be much more effective and less prone to breaking down if the people are changed from the inside-out through a relationship with Jesus. To bring this type of internal life change, Christian WASH organizations would generally incorporate Biblical teaching in their training and would even establish a local pastor to provide oversight to the community program. There are many models for successful accomplishment of WASH projects that highlight the strengths and innovation of the many individual organizations involved, but there are also industry wide WASH standards and practices that are being used. The WASH Summit that I attended has initiated an alliance of Christian WASH organizations and professionals that have also established standards of excellence for the Christian WASH community. Now one of the primary goals of this alliance is to encourage and facilitate partnerships and collaboration between the various organizations in order to efficiently use each others skill sets and knowledge base to accomplish the same ultimate goal without duplicating efforts. So, in essence, BE the body of Christ!
HOW is eMi involved in WASH? Currently, eMi’s involvement in WASH has been somewhat confined to project design strategy, where recommendations have been made in alignment with certain WASH practices, but in actuality do not always get built as designed. Let’s be honest, engineers have trouble getting American contractors to build per the design without stringent inspections, so you can imagine how a design in the developing world may get adapted throughout construction and implementation phases without certain levels of follow up and incorporation into a more holistic program. So, one of the tasks I will have in front of me as the WASH Program Director is helping develop a WASH program within eMi that ascribes to the standards of integral mission and becomes a valued participant in the Christian WASH community. We are the left brain (so-to-speak) of the body of Christ. We have technical expertise, but eMi is not necessarily best suited for everything else entailed by a holistic WASH program implementation. Other organizations are the hands, the feet, the eyes, the mouth, etc. and we need them! They also need us when they have technical issues that they are not equipped to solve. So, we are strategically positioning ourselves to be useful to the other parts of the body. The first step of this has already been initiated by my predecessor at eMi who has moved over to serve with an organization called Living Water International and has developed a partnership between these two organizations. The next step is seeing this partnership and other future partnerships take shape into real life changing results and I am excited to be in on the formative stages of this program!
This need for sharing resources has also been realized in eMi’s Disaster Response program over the past few years and partnerships have been initiated in that area, including some WASH support. So, I am also looking forward to working with eMi’s new Disaster Response Director where these ministry areas overlap.
…So, WHEN do we get started? We are still targeting January for making the move to Colorado Springs to go on staff with eMi and we need your help to get us there! The great thing is that God has made us all uniquely gifted to serve Him and to accomplish His work, and it is incredible to see our place in a much larger picture. We would love to have you partner with us in any way that God leads you to be involved with the work He is doing through our family and eMi. We certainly need and covet your prayers during this time of transition! You can also help us reach our target date by becoming a part of our monthly support team. To do that you can click here and set up an account on eMi’s secure donation web page. I look forward to seeing how God will accomplish His purpose in all of us in this great masterpiece!
Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ…Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. (1 Corinthians 12:12, 27 NIV)