My employment takes me to communities all over the world where people do not have access to clean water. Our group works with local governments and residents to provide maintainable sources of pure, life-sustaining water such as wells and spring or rain captures.
These water projects offer a significant improvement in the quality of life. Health drastically improves because clean water stops the contraction of typhoid, cholera, and other water-borne diseases. The economy also improves because parents and children who previously spent their time carrying water can now pursue employment and education. Even in communities with numerous and wide-ranging problems, people always say that clean water is what they would like most.
The Savior spent His earthly ministry in a time and place where people relied on wells for water. As He taught the woman at the well by saying that “whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst” (John 4:14), was He also teaching us that His gospel quenches—permanently—our most basic needs? I believe so.
I will always be grateful to a woman in Kenya, Africa, who taught me about willingness to work to obtain water. I met her at a celebration following the installation of a well in her community. With gratitude she told me that the new well would cut her daily nine-mile (14 km) trip to get water to a one-mile (1.6 km) trip. She was overjoyed at the opportunities that would now be hers.
I couldn’t help but think how I would feel if I had to walk a mile to get water. I was impressed that she put everything—from housework to gardening—aside while she made her journey to fetch water. She knew she couldn’t complete the other tasks without that water. I thought about how heavy her burden was. Carrying water takes strength and endurance. Yet, for the sake of her family, she was willing to walk nine miles every day to get it.
I wonder if we who get clean water from taps in our homes sometimes expect to come unto Christ with the same ease as turning a knob to get a glass of water. Or are we willing to put aside other tasks, even important ones, to seek to know Jesus Christ and His Father?
I know that the well of living water the Savior offers us never runs dry and is pure and life sustaining. When we come to Him with an empty cup, He will fill it, often beyond our capacity to receive. He is truly living water, a manifestation of the love of God.