‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.
I’ve been having some rich conversations lately about faith, skepticism, and social action (mostly) through the wonderful medium that is the Internet. In the course of conversation, I’ve made the claim that Christianity can be an incredibly powerful source of social change, justice, equity, and charity. As a Christian who’s been involved in the church for my whole life, such a claim is self-evidently true. I mean, I’ve seen it happen with my own eyes and contributed it to it in a variety of ways in my own life. But I take that experience for granted, experience that others with whom I converse regularly do not share.
So I began thinking about the people and organizations I was familiar with who were doing this type of work in the world, i.e., loving their neighbors altruistically – with no strings attached. Hence, the title of this post (and hopefully some more to come!).
The Water Project. Here’s who they are, what they do, and why they’re doing it:
Who We Are
The Water Project, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that’s bringing relief to communities around the world who suffer needlessly from a lack of access to clean water.
What We’re Doing
We help raise both awareness and the funds needed to provide the most basic and life-sustaining need of people…clean water.
We do that by connecting donors to water project implementers who are providing clean water to under-developed nations efficiently and sustainably.
We work closely with partners around the world who identify, implement, report on and follow up on each project. We share this information with our supporters through innovative tools online that inspire confidence in the work being done and the impact it has.
Why We’re Doing It
We believe that providing clean water restores hope by enabling our partners to make a "whole-life impact" in the communities they serve through their broader development activity. We desire to see access to clean water enable schools to thrive, people to get back to work, farming to provide enough food to earn a living, and suffering to be alleviated as health improves.
We believe the issues facing Africa, India and other under-developed parts of the world are not simply today’s problems. We know that a lack of clean water stands in the way of tomorrow’s hope. And we’re sure that together we can change that.
Are We a "Religious Organization"?
No. We are simply a Christian non-profit.
Religious organizations are organized and recognized differently than public benefit charities. The work we do through The Water Project is for the good of the general public. The reason we do this work is because we are Christians. We believe that important distinction allows us to work with people of all backgrounds and faiths for the benefit of all people. Our projects do not discriminate on the basis of race, creed, ethnic or religious backgrounds. We serve others.
We believe that bringing water to those who need it most is a natural expression of how Jesus Christ teaches us all to live. We believe these essential, life-sustaining projects will help enable our partners to demonstrate what loving one’s neighbor is all about. We believe these water projects relieve suffering, open doors to education, stimulate economic development, and most importantly introduce a true and lasting hope.
So simply put, we follow the teaching of Jesus who has called each of us to act, in this world, for peace and justice by loving our neighbor — however, whenever and wherever we can.
We exist to see the world changed through this love. It is a simple message of hope in an increasingly difficult world.
That’s a pretty clear picture of what it means to love your neighbor, I think. We love because we are loved, and love doesn’t distinguish among race, creed, ethnicity, or religious background (or lack thereof). And there are no strings attached – there is a need, and the need is being met, period.
The Water Project is on Facebook and Twitter, and you can follow them here. You can help support them by giving “Twollars” (I’m not kidding), which doesn’t cost you anything but a few seconds of time. Details are on their site under “Action Alert.”
What do you think? Do you have a favorite charity or philanthropic effort that you want to share? What about a personal story?