Soda, energy drinks and coffee. College students frequently buy them without a second thought.
But what else could students be doing with the money spent on those drinks?
Starting on Nov. 11, students from all over the country pledged to drink water as their only beverage for 10 days, giving money they save to Living Water International, an organization which builds wells for people in desperate need of clean water.
This year, a new CAUSE Ministry, The Wells Project, is hosting the event. The Wells Project is led by sophomore Ethan Zuck, who has been actively supporting Living Water International for the past few years.
“I heard about Living Water International through a video my church played that actually was for a Christmas program encouraging people to spend less on gifts, but give more to things that matter,” Zuck said. “From there I went home and found the video, researched more and became really passionate about the Global Water Crisis.”
Since hearing about Living Water International, Zuck has supported the organization through running two half marathons, organizing a 5K fundraiser race for his church and leading a Vacation Bible School fundraiser for three years.
After his passion for the organization developed, Zuck knew he wanted to bring the 10 Days Project with him to JBU.
For Zuck, this commitment is important. He says that statistics show 783 million people lack access to clean water right now, and of those people, 2.2 million die every year, which results in around 4,500 deaths every day.
“Unclean water also affects people’s time, which causes children to miss school days and causes high drop-out rates and women not being able to work for profit, in addition to its severe, detrimental impacts on people’s health, especially children,” Zuck said. “Most of those 4,500 deaths are children.”
Zuck explained how that is where Living Water International steps in to make change, and why he sees it as important for others to get involved as well.
“They not only respond to this crisis by building wells for these people and communities,” Zuck said. “They teach them health and sanitation, maintain well sustainability, and they tell them about Living Water, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which satisfies the deepest of thirsts.”
By meeting the physical needs to those they minister to, Zuck explained that the organization uses the water and wells they build as a tool to reach people for Christ.
After Zuck brought the 10 Days Project to campus last year, around 65 people committed to the Project, and the group collectively raised around $2,000.
This year, more than 100 students have signed up to take part in the project.
Junior Zach Lee is on the leadership team for The Wells Project and is participating in the 10 Days Project this year.
“I have always been interested in bringing water to the developing world,” Lee said. “In addition I believe that we are called as the Church to care for the poor and powerless, and bringing clean water to those who need it is one way to do this.”
After not being able to finish the 10 Days Project last year, due to realizing he was more addicted to caffeine than he thought he was, Lee began weaning himself off caffeine a few weeks in advance to be able to finish the challenge with the rest of those on campus who are participating this year.
“I am really looking forward to seeing JBU get behind something and run with it,” Lee said. “I have already seen so many people who are passionate about this project and I can’t wait to see even more.”
Lee also mentioned that we are called to be global Christians with hearts for the world.
“I can’t wait to see JBU display its passion for loving the ‘least of these’ during the 10 days,” Lee said. “I also hope that this project will ignite a passion for JBU to continue to seek out ways to show God’s love to the poor and powerless around the world.”
Lee knows that it will be a challenge to give up caffeine for the 10 days, especially when late night studying and schoolwork happens. But he says he knows it is worth it.
Once the 10 Days Project is over, the Wells Project CAUSE Ministry group will be hosting a celebration day. There will be a live webcast, broadcasted to schools all over the nation. The broadcast will feature speaker Bob Goff and musician Phil Wickham. The group invites all of campus to the event.
For Zuck, more than just giving up all drinks except water has gone into this commitment. He is able to confidently say he has learned more and benefited in quite a few ways, including gaining better leadership skills.
“But best of all, I’ve benefited greatly through the joy of knowing that real people, our neighbors across the worlds, are receiving, because of our campus’ sacrifice, clean water, in Jesus’ name,” Zuck said. “That alone is the greatest joy that any of our team could ask for.”