1998-Present: Beginning in Nicaragua, Samaritan’s Purse offered freshwater to communities through methods that we continue to use around the world today.
In the fourth chapter of the Gospel of John, Jesus meets a Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well and asks her for a drink of water. As they talk, Jesus tells her about “living water,” which puzzles her. “Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where then do You get that living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, as well as his sons and his livestock?” (John 4:11-12).
Aside from the depths of spiritual truth that Jesus was sharing, it’s significant to note that Jacob’s well must have been more than 1,000 years old, yet it was still flowing with cool, fresh water.
The same can be said for hundreds of wells and hundreds of thousands of household water filters that Samaritan’s Purse has provided over the past 50 years. In the 1980s, we began installing wells in drought-prone Ethiopia as well as alongside village churches that we helped build in India. In the 1990s, God gave us another tool to use, a BioSand Filter that an inventor in Canada licensed to Samaritan’s Purse so we could help families whose water came from polluted streams or other unsafe sources. The filters require no chemicals or power—just a God-given process that makes contaminated water safe to drink.
Samaritan’s Purse began installing BioSand Filters in Nicaragua in 1998 and has set up over 282,000 in 25 nations. These filters have been so popular and effective that nine out of ten are still being used today, all these years later. That means that Samaritan’s Purse has been able to provide filtered drinking water to 1.7 million people.
Clean water is foremost in many of Samaritan’s Purse’s projects around the world. We have also installed or repaired wells at refugee camps in South Sudan. When we respond to disasters, we set up community filters that can serve up to 2,500 people a day. On hurricane-stricken islands, we installed desalinization filters that make ocean water safe to drink. We’ve also set up systems to collect rainwater off the roofs of schools we build in Cambodia. Over the past five years alone, we’ve put in or repaired more than 4,000 water-gathering points for needy areas.
As we work in communities and households to provide them with dependable sources of clean water, God gives us opportunities to share the truth of Jesus’ message: “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:13-14).