SAMARITAN’S PURSE IS DRILLING WELLS AND INSTALLING WATER SYSTEMS IN AN AREA WHERE WATER PIPES WERE DESTROYED IN THE CONFLICT.
How do you survive without clean water? This is the difficult question some residents of a Ukraine town grappled with after attacks on their water supply lines.
One church gathered whatever containers they could find—ranging from buckets, iron barrels, and a 500-liter plastic container—and began hauling water from wells on the outskirts of the city. Loading up two vans with their hodgepodge of vessels bearing the precious commodity, they brought water back to the city and began distributing it to people in buckets or other plastic containers.
Some elderly, disabled, and sick individuals could not leave their apartments to come get the water, so the church began bringing it to them by car. The difficulty of the situation intensified with a shortage of fuel that was only available at skyrocketing prices.
“It was not an easy period,” said Pastor Andriy*. He said these circumstances caused people reassess their values. “We began to really appreciate things we did not before the war.”
A bit like the Biblical widow whose oil did not run out, but continued to flow to fill all her containers (2 Kings 4), the church rejoiced to receive a fresh water supply provided by Samaritan’s Purse.
“When people found out that a well would be drilled and a filtration system installed, they couldn’t believe it,” Pastor Andriy said. “You have to see the people to understand how grateful they are, they won’t stop expressing their gratitude. Even in the outlying neighbourhoods, people stop us to say thank you for this water.”
Using Science to Share the Love of Jesus
Pastor Andriy’s congregation is one of nine Ukrainian churches for which Samaritan’s Purse has provided clean water, with nearly 30 more to be added throughout the country in the near future.
The advanced water treatment systems are capable of handling up to 2,000 litres an hour in a three-step process. First, as water comes in from the well that is drilled, it is put in a 500- to 1,000-liter storage tank. There it begins a pre-treatment process in which sand and charcoal filters remove sediment, odour, and colour. The water is then put through a reverse osmosis system that takes out dissolved salts and bacteria. From there it goes to a larger storage tank that is connected to a tap stand where people can come and fill their jugs with the safe, fresh water.
Early in the Ukraine conflict, Samaritan’s Purse supplied its own water filtration systems, but now we are partnering with a Ukrainian company to create them, contributing to their local economy and allowing for greater ease of maintenance on the systems in the future.
“We are leading in providing new sources of water for [this area],” said our Ukraine program manager for water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH). “Samaritan’s Purse ministry is to reduce suffering, save lives, and share the love of Jesus. This clean water program fits all of those categories very, very well.”
Spiritual Fruit from the Conflict
Pastor Andriy’s church is just one strong example of how clean water is bearing fruit for Christ’s Kingdom. Back in March, they had less than 10 people attending their Sunday services, while today, after the water system was put in place, they have two services of 200 worshippers each. This growth would be remarkable anywhere, but is doubly so when over 40 percent of the population has fled the area in roughly the same time period.
“People are seeing the Gospel in action and the Lord is speaking to people’s hearts in a special way today,” he said.
One woman in her 60s had never attended church before the war began. Three months ago, she attended a service for the first time and asked about the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. “She started asking questions and two meetings ago, she brought up the subject of repentance,” said Pastor Andriy. “It’s amazing she had gone her whole life without being interested in the Gospel, and now she can’t help but think about Him.”
In addition, one man has repeatedly asked to help at the church ever since the war started. “To this day, he comes to help every day, we talk a lot, [and] he asks questions. And more recently, his wife has been coming,” Pastor Andriy said. This couple is now reading the Gospels and praying together—a practice that is not common in Ukraine.
The fact that so many people are coming to hear God’s Word and pray testifies that the Lord is moving in a special way within their hearts, Pastor Andriy said.
Equipping the Church for the Future
Through the nine wells Samaritan’s Purse has supplied, we’ve already provided nearly 3.5 million litres of water to the people of the Ukraine. Most of these water systems are located at churches that represent many different denominations. Six of these congregations also partnered with us in distributing food, blankets, and other supplies to the citizens of Ukraine.
Our Ukraine WASH coordinator said, “People will remember that it’s the church they got their food and water from.”
”People will remember that it’s the church they got their food and water from.”
“We pray constantly that the war will end tomorrow. The second the war ends the need for infrastructure development will be very high in the locations we can’t get to yet. This is just the beginning of projects that will be needed after the war settles and the smoke clears and we look at what is left and what needs to be rebuilt.”
Please continue to pray that God would protect the people of Ukraine. Even as they receive this life-giving water, there was recently a missile strike not far from one of the collection points.
*Name changed for security