Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Flint, Michigan: I Was Thirsty And You Gave Me Drink

Flint, Michigan is thirsty.
Right now, Flint, Michigan's people are thirsty. They are unable to walk to their faucet and take a drink of water without poisoning their bodies with lead. The infrastructure that allows Flint residents to receive water from Lake Huron is contaminated and needs to be replaced, but there's no money in the city's budget to do it.

Where It Began

The state was supposed to be helping Flint's residence to replace the infrastructure two years ago. Instead, to save money, they diverted the pipes so that the water would come from the Flint River instead of Lake Huron.

The Flint River was already known to residents as being contaminated with pollutants, but nobody knew just how bad the situation really was until the brown water began flowing from the taps.Lead, iron, and a whole host of other pollutants were pouring out of the faucets exposing children, the elderly, and everyone else to the contamination.

Even after Virginia Tech Institute proved that levels of contamination were 19 times higher than acceptable levels, the state was reluctant to change the city's water back. At first, they insisted there wasn't a problem. That their tests showed the water was safe. Eventually, they changed the water back, but by then it was too late for residents.

The residents were sick and the pipes themselves were contaminated.

The 1.5 Billion Dollar Problem

The Mayor of Flint estimates that replacing the pipes and updating the infrastructure appropriately will cost about $1.5 billion dollars. That's money the struggling city does not have. People are bringing bottled water as a temporary fix, and those who can afford it are buying water filters for their faucets, but that doesn't solve the health crisis that has come because of this and it isn't a long term solution.

What Would Jesus Say

When a friend who lives in Michigan drew my attention to this story, my heart went out to these residents, but at first all I did was share the news.

I didn't know what else I could do. I'm struggling for money and unemployed at the moment. And I certainly don't have $1.5 billion dollars.

But then I remembered that I am a writer, and I have the power to use my words and a duty to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves. And I thought about what Jesus would say if He were here in my place.

He would say, "What you did for the least of these, you did for me."

This Is Our Problem, Too

We are the wealthiest nation in the world. $1.5 billion dollars is a problem easily solved for us. We can do this, if we care to do this. If we remember that this isn't just a problem for Flint, Michigan. This isn't just a problem that will impact some people we've never met. 

This is our problem, too. Because someday it could be our town needing money that no one will give. Someday it could be our children whose bodies are now sick because the water wasn't safe to drink. 

And it's our problem, too, because those people are members of the Body of Christ and what affects one of us affects ALL of us. We NEED them. Humanity is a jigsaw puzzle, and each piece matters. We can't afford to lose any of them. And we have the power to help.

Are We Truly a Christian Nation?

I've heard a lot of Christians who are upset because of the 10 Commandments being taken down from walls and lawns of government buildings, from schools and offices. But maybe it's time to ask ourselves if our outrage is justified. Are we truly a Christian nation?

How we handle the situation in Flint, Michigan will answer that question. Every individual that lives in Flint, Michigan is an image of Christ. If we can know that these people are hurting and still choose to look the other way, then I say we should be honest with ourselves and admit that our nation is no longer a Christian nation.

Atheists, This Is Your Chance

Atheists, I may be writing to Christians and especially Catholics, but this is your chance. You've told me you don't need God to be good. This is your chance to show the world what you've been saying is true: that you are more willing than Christians to do good for your neighbor. Let's start a friendly competition to see who can give the most, help the most, and love the most.  I think that's a competition that would make us all winners.

If You Can Help

If you are in the position of Bill and Melinda Gates with your own private fortune and access to a private foundation, or you're George Soros or Warren Buffet, and you can donate a cool $1.5 billion dollars today, please do. If you're a celebrity like Brad Paisley, maybe you could consider donating the proceeds from your song Water to the people of Flint, Michigan.

But if you're just an average person like me, I hope you'll listen to what I'm about to say and take it to heart.

I Can't Do Everything, But I Can Do Something.

Maybe you're like me. Maybe you don't think there's anything you can do. Maybe you feel overwhelmed by the problem and you don't know what to do. I hope you'll realize what I did. I can't do everything. I can't solve the problem in Flint, Michigan. But I can do something. 

I can speak out and encourage those who can do to step up and to help out. Give what you can, do what you can.

If you want to help, you can visit this link for places that are accepting donations: http://www.ibtimes.com/how-help-flint-water-crisis-michigan-residents-call-donations-bottled-water-2267503

Maybe together we can raise the money that's needed for Flint, Michigan not to need bottled water or water filters but to get their pipes replaced. Maybe together we can bring help, healing, and comfort to those who are struggling in Flint, Michigan. Maybe we can restore justice to a people who have been gravely wronged, and bring peace to hearts that are hurting.

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