Active Water Ministry

Kelsey Sternberg talks about one of the speakers during Social Justice Week.

Speaker: Daren Wendell – Tuesday, February 26, 2013

            As a part of Social Justice Week, Tuesday focused on water scarcity. That night, Daren Wendell from a ministry called Active Water showed the documentary Zambia Song and spoke about what the ministry does. I thought the talk was interesting and informative, and I noticed several ties to subjects covered in Walking Gently on the Earth, which we read for Honors Colloquium this semester, and in When Helping Hurts, which I read for Short-Term Missions.            The documentary gave an informative perspective on water scarcity and safety in Ndola, Zambia. According to the quote at the end of the documentary from the U.N., “more people die from unsafe water than from all forms of violence, including war.” Seeing and hearing the story of Abigail and other Zambians gave me a new perspective on the urgency and severity of the situation. All sorts of diseases and deaths are being caused by something that we take so for granted. I’m reminded of a conversation I had a while ago about the fact that we have all the drinking water we want from sinks and drinking fountain and even bottled water. But not only that, the water we use in showers, and likely toilets (although I wouldn’t test that theory), is at least potable, although maybe not necessarily meant for drinking. I still can’t help but wonder at the idea that others die for the lack of this commodity which we not only have in abundance for drinking, but wash ourselves with daily.

            I really appreciated Daren’s discussion of Active Water’s focus as a ministry; it’s not just about water; it’s about active water. This went along well with what I’ve been reading recently in When Helping Hurts. If we want to truly help the poor, it is essential that we help to build up communities that will invoke change for themselves, rather than giving them resources or doing work for them that they could do themselves. Active Water funds a ministry underground of about 65 Zambian men and women that work to drill wells in Zambian towns. Another staggering statistic Daren offered was that there are 185,000 broken wells in Africa. If water is so badly needed, why are these wells going unfixed and unused? Active Water trains pump repair teams of Zambians that learn how to fix these broken wells and pumps. These strategies not only provide the necessary clean drinking water, but they provide Zambians with jobs, and remind us all that they are capable of helping themselves; we don’t need to rush in just to do things for them.

I also felt that the discussion of water went along with the conversations on natural resources in Walking Gently on the Earth. Although water is a renewable resource, it still pays off to be good stewards of it and to be conscientious of our water usage. “God’s design in a box” was one name for a certain type of sand filtration system. These systems are built by Zambians and given to homes only after the family members attend sanitation and hygiene training, which is essential to ensuring change and health. They are called “God’s design in a box” because it uses the idea of water being filtered down through sand, as in nature, to filter the water. This was another reminder to me of the beauty of God’s creation, as talked about in Walking Gently. If we pay more attention to this beauty and these natural systems, we find that God really is very creative, and natural systems he’s put in place, even rotating crops in fields to simulate plant diversity, really are effective and good for everyone involved.

Lastly, I thought the way Active Water does fundraising was really cool. They involve all kinds of people, doing whatever they love to do, in order to raise money, awareness, and support for the cause. After hearing Daren speak, I was very impressed with their ministry, and in my original reflection on the event, I stated that I hoped to maybe even get involved someday.

As I said before, they make it exceedingly easy to get involved. By going to their website,, you can read more about their ministry and about many ways to get involved in fundraising. You can even create an account and create your own personal fundraising page. So that’s exactly what I did! This summer, I will be organizing the arts and crafts for middle school students at a summer camp in my hometown. As I began planning, I realized that my hobby of making friendship bracelets could benefit more than just my summer job. My goal is to raise $50 for Active Water this summer by making and selling friendship bracelets. For more information on this particular fundraiser, visit my fundraising website.

Even if friendship bracelets aren’t your thing, I highly encourage you to find some ministry somewhere, be it local or global, to support in some way, whether with your time or your resources or by simply raising awareness. If you’re looking for one to support, and ActiveWater’s ministry has struck a chord with you, then go ahead and get involved!

Check out some other blogs of Honors Guild students here:

Paula Weinmann:

Suzi “Sushi” Rhee:

Diana Meakem:

Melinda Patterson:


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