Thursday, January 16, 2014

Thirsty in West Virginia

I'm a proud native of West Virginia.  I grew up in St. Albans, about 20 miles west from where a chemical spill impacted the drinking water for about 300,000 people in the Charleston area.  Although I now live in the Bluegrass State, I have family members who dealt directly with the water shortage.  In fact, my nephew parlayed the event into an opportunity to become a social media, "Johnny on the spot," and here.

I have been watching the situation develop from a distance via the national media and social media. What happened in the Kanawha Valley was tragic and extremely difficult for all involved.  But its a challenge to sort through all the stories, reports and rumors.

Emotional rants and rumors are unhelpful in crisis. But they have become so common with the rise of blogs, Facebook and Twitter. In a few seconds one can make an accusation or statement that millions might read and believe. [Btw, not everything on the internet is true.]  However, I get it, this was a situation that elicited extreme emotions.  But sometimes our emotions distract us from solving problems and engaging in helpful dialog.

What is helpful in a crisis like the one in WV is clarity, compassion and thoughtful suggestions offered in a calm and winsome manner.  This editorial is a great example. It was written by a high school classmate of mine.

As is often the case, there is also good that comes from tragedy.  From this water event we see neighbor helping neighbor, an awareness of our weakness and a recognition of how blessed we are by modern conveniences but so utterly dependent on them.

Additionally, tragic events offer an enlightening glimpse into our broken world.  Clean water is essential to survive in this life and not everyone has access to it.  But water is not our greatest need.  Although the water has been restored to my friends and family, there are still many thousands who are still thirsty, spiritually speaking.  This water crisis is yet another reminder that what we desperately need is the "living water" that will satisfy the deepest longing of our be reconciled to God.  My prayer for the thirsty in West Virginia, and around the globe, is that they will heed the words of Jesus to "repent and believe the gospel."

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