Water is essential for survival, but imagine if the only water you or your child had access to came from a dirty pond miles from home. This is the reality for more than 660 million people around the world who lack access to a safe water source.
A Birmingham, Alabama based non-profit has been a major player in working to end the water crisis around the world. Neverthirst was started in 2008. Co-founder and executive director, Mark Whitehead experienced a pivotal moment while listening to a sermon by Dr. David Platt at the Church of Brook Hills. Platt challenged congregants with a simple question: “Have you disconnected the blessings God has entrusted to you from the purposes God intends those blessings to be used for?” Whitehead considered the blessings we enjoy here in the United States and felt the call to share the gospel “to the ends of the earth” by first meeting the physical needs of impoverished people.
This year, Neverthirst is celebrating its ten year anniversary. In ten years the organization has served more than half a million people through more than 10,000 water projects. In places like India, Cambodia, Chad, Uganda, Nepal, and Myanmar, Neverthirst is working with local partners to provide access to clean water through bio-sand filters and wells with hand pumps. The gospel is shared with each water project through the pastors in the communities where Neverthirst is working.
The results have been staggering. When Neverthirst first started in 2008, 1.2 billion people lacked access to a safe water source. Now the number is 660 million. “It’s truly amazing to reflect on ten years as a ministry and all that God has done around the world,” Whitehead says. “We would have never dreamed that ten years into the ministry we would be able to help over 500,000 people gain access to a safe water source and ultimately get the opportunity to hear about the love of God.”
But still much work must be done. According to World Health Organization, every day more than 800 children under the age of five die from preventable diseases caused by poor water, and lack of sanitation and hygiene. That’s why Whitehead feels an urgency while looking ahead to the next ten years. “We’re committed to playing our part in ending the water crisis but we can’t do it alone,” he says.
On Thursday, September 13th at 6:30 p.m., Neverthirst will hold a 10 Year Celebration at Noah’s Event Venue in Hoover (2501 International Park Place). It will be an event that has come full circle for Whitehead. The pastor who inspired the mission, Dr. David Platt, will be the keynote speaker. In addition, dozens of virtual reality simulators will be available for guests to try on and feel like they are half a world away as they experience “virtually” what it’s like to be on a Neverthirst project. All are invited and the event is free; but, it is necessary to R.S.V.P. by visiting NeverthirstWater.org.
What does the future hold for Neverthirst and the people it serves? “It truly takes an army of people getting involved to make an impact,” Whitehead says. “We are so thankful for how God continues to move in the hearts of people that want to make a difference! We’re really excited about the years ahead and being able to continue to help families throughout Africa and Asia gain access to a safe water source.”
Whitehead believes there will be an end to the water crisis in our lifetime. But just as was preached ten years ago in that pivotal sermon, it will take men and women who have experienced God’s blessing to be obedient to His purpose.