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Teen campaigning for fresh water in Sudan


JACKSON, Tenn. (BP)–Joshua Guthrie has a message for teenagers: they can do something to make the world a better place.

Guthrie, 16, is leading by example. The Southern Baptist teen — a high school sophomore who’s also dually enrolled at Union University in Jackson, Tenn. — has launched an initiative to raise money for a freshwater well in Sudan, Africa.

Called “Dollar for a Drink,” the campaign also is intended to help provide clean drinking water for the Sudanese people as a demonstration of God’s love for them.

“The concept is extremely simple,” Guthrie said. “Give up one drink, and instead give that $1 to help build a well in Sudan. Our objective is for one well, which is $8,000, by Christmas 2008.”

The son of George Guthrie, the Benjamin W. Perry Professor of Bible at Union, Joshua Guthrie said more than 12 million people in Sudan lack adequate access to clean water. Digging wells is also expensive, because the dry climate requires deep digging to get to the water.

In addition, Guthrie said the lack of water leads to tribal conflicts.

“So, in a way, putting in more wells not only eliminates the thirst, but also wars as well,” he said.

Guthrie is working on the project with Baptist Global Response, an international relief and development organization, which has set aside a specific well for which Guthrie is raising money. Once the money is collected, BGR will send in a team to dig the well, and the workers will use their time in Sudan as an opportunity to talk with people about the love of God.

The project launched in September. Though larger donations are welcomed, Guthrie is asking people to donate $1 — what it would cost them to purchase a soft drink — to the effort. Though some may think their small donation doesn’t matter, Guthrie disagrees.

“I like to think of every dollar as a droplet of water,” he said. “By itself, that droplet can’t do a whole lot of good. But if you combine them all, you really have this large power source that really can make a large dent in the situation in Sudan.”

Joshua has collected about $3,855 so far.

“This is a way all of us can be doers of the word,” Guthrie said. “Right now, in the next few minutes, we can act on Jesus words’ where he said, ‘When I was thirsty, you gave me a drink.’ Our Sudanese brothers and sisters are the least of these, so we hope that people will not delay giving, but act now if the Spirit is prompting them.”

He especially hopes teenagers will get involved in the effort, perhaps adopting it as a project for their church youth groups. Guthrie is a member of Northbrook Church in Humboldt, Tenn.

“I really hope to be a motivation to other teenagers that it really doesn’t matter what your age is, you can make a difference in the world and overcome the low expectations of the culture,” he said.
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Tim Ellsworth is director of news and media relations at Union University. For information on how to help with Joshua’s campaign, visit www.dollarforadrink.org.

    About the Author

  • Tim Ellsworth
    Tim Ellsworth is associate vice president for university communications at Union University in Jackson, Tenn. BP reports on missions, ministry and witness advanced through the Cooperative Program and on news related to Southern Baptists’ concerns nationally and globally.Read All by Tim Ellsworth ›