(NOTE: If you are unable to view the videos in this post, click through to http://bhglobalblog.org/.)

Out of the 6.8 billion people on the planet today, approximately 1 billion of them do not have access to clean, safe drinking water. Lack of access to such water is the primary cause behind illnesses, diseases, and death in third-world countries. One child dies from contaminated water every 15 seconds, i.e., in about the time it has taken you to read this paragraph.

India is home to over 130 million of these people who do not currently have access to clean, safe drinking water. For this reason, when we as a church focused on India during the Radical Experiment, we knew that we wanted to work together with brothers and sisters across India to help remedy the water crisis. By God’s grace, He has raised up members from within our faith family to lead an organization called Neverthirst that is working throughout India (as well as other countries) in conjunction with local churches on water projects. As a result, we combined together with Neverthirst during the Radical Experiment to build 100 wells in some of the neediest areas of India, providing over 30,000 people access to clean, safe drinking water for the first time.

But the goal is not just clean, safe drinking water. The goal is the spread of the gospel and the advancement of the church. All of these wells were built in partnership with local churches. Our goal (and Neverthirst’s goal) has been to platform local churches in their communities so that Indian pastors and church members might share “living water” with those who now have clean “drinking water.” And it is working. Today, we had the opportunity to visit various wells across East India that were installed over the last year. I talked with one pastor who has led the church in his community for over 30 years, and he has seen countless people suffer as a result of contaminated water in the village. Now, for the first time ever, that village has clean, safe drinking water. Meanwhile, people who were previously hard to the gospel are for the first time trusting in Christ and joining the church..

We visited another well, built amidst a church and school that presently houses over 100 boarding students and educates over 300 additional students from Hindu, Muslim, and animistic backgrounds. The goal of the church was to start a school that would provide quality Christ-centered education for impoverished children in the villages. Over the last year, we built two wells on the campus of this church/school. Take a look at this video and see smiling faces of children who now have access to clean water from this well.

[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/21236641]

To think that there are 100 such stories across India as a result of your sacrificial giving is truly astounding. Church at Brook Hills, you can be proud in Christ of Spencer Sutton, Mark Whitehead, and a host of other members in our faith family who are tirelessly working in Neverthirst to help make this partnership with local churches in India a glorious, God-honoring reality.

But it gets better. We are currently working with Neverthirst on potentially expanding well projects to include a greater focus on church health and community development. We are exploring a new “Adopt-a-Village” program with Neverthirst that involves not only installing a well, but training women throughout the village to use the well properly for home hygiene and community sanitation. These women will also be trained with other skills that will help them prevent the spread of disease in their villages. And of course, these women, who almost all have Hindu or animistic backgrounds, will be taught about the beauty of Christ and His love for them.

We visited a village today that is one of the first to start this “Adopt-A-Village” program. We were greeted warmly with song and tribal dance. I regret to inform you that I wasn’t able to get myself dancing on video (ha!), but I did have the opportunity to capture Heather and Callie dancing through the village and then participating in a full tribal song and dance. You don’t want to miss this video…

[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/21236687]

You would think from the joy and excitement in their singing and dancing that these tribespeople in India were doing well. But unfortunately, this is not the case. This tribe is currently amidst a massive two-year drought. They have little water, desperately needing access to a well. They have hardly any food, each person surviving each day on one small meal of rice and dal (a sauce that goes over their rice). We have read before that over a billion people live on less than a dollar a day. Today, those numbers became faces. To make matters worse, this area is also malaria-infested, and many people have died (and are dying) in these villages as a result. Almost every family we met had someone in their home who was struggling with major sickness.

The physical poverty is only compounded by spiritual poverty. Most of the people in this village are animist, literally worshiping the trees and the rocks and the animals around them. Witch doctors hold spiritual sway over these communities. One boy in a nearby village was struggling with stomach pains. His family took him to the witch doctor instead of a medical doctor. As a remedy, the witch doctor took a rod of iron, heated it over a fire, and then singed the boys’ stomach.

This scene would be disheartening IF we were not, by God’s grace and in God’s power, doing something about it. This otherwise depressing scene was a wonderfully hopeful scene today. We talked with women who have already been enrolled in this “Adopt-A-Village” program. We encouraged them that clean, safe drinking water was on the way. Meanwhile, a multitude from the village gathered together, where Cory and I had an opportunity to preach the gospel to them. We told them how God loved them, how Jesus reigned over nature and disease and demons and death, and we urged them to trust in Christ alone for salvation. We went house-to-house, doing the same thing. We would ask members of households, “Have you heard of Jesus?” They would respond, “No.” And we would say, “Then we have really good news to tell you!”

Brothers and sisters, the gospel is advancing, the church is working, and people amidst urgent spiritual and physical need are gaining access to earthly drinking water while they hear for the first time about eternal living water. This last video sums up the entire day. After Cory and I preached the gospel, they asked Heather and Callie to sing a song (in English, of course). Though no one could understand what was being sung, as soon as they began, everyone else went silent. All the people stared and listened as they heard, many for the first time today, news of amazing grace.

[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/21236572]