The Wake-Up Call from Jackson, Mississippi

Repeated occurrences of water failures indicate neglect, and call for long-term solutions.

#FaithfilledFridays #FaithwithWorks #Faithworks #handsandfeet

Because of my work in Disaster Response as well as my love of travel, I have been blessed to see many wonders of the world. I’ve witnessed God’s magnificent creation. And, unfortunately, I’ve seen  devastation. I’ve witnessed the aftermath of typhoons in Saipan and hurricanes in New Orleans. I’ve also witnessed the despair caused by man-made devastation after mass shootings in Parkland, Florida and Buffalo, New York. However, at no time have I seen such helplessness as witnessed on my recent visit to Jackson, Mississippi.

Yes, the damage to their water system contributed to their recent crisis. And yes, this frustrating crisis once again interrupted everyday life. The lack of clean water causes panic. Anger simmers because answers to the many legitimate questions come so slowly. But what I saw here in Jackson, Mississippi was deeper than that.

What I saw was a sadness reflected in the eyes of the homeless congregated on the doorsteps of my hotel. What I experienced was children who appeared barren of curiosity and joy. A sense of hopelessness started to envelope me. It wasn’t because of contaminated water, but because of years of oppression, injustice, and neglect in everything, including the water system on which these people depend.

Resignation and Acceptance of the “Crisis”

As I walked around the parking lot of the E. E. Rodgers Elementary school where three local churches had come together to distribute 20,000 bottles of water, I sensed a certain acceptance of the current situation.

I listened to horror story after horror story from church members who were volunteering as well as from the locals in the community, and each story concluded with an attitude of “oh well, that’s the way it is.”

One of the long-time residents, Belinda Jenkins, shared a memory of boiling the family’s water as a little girl years ago.  Brown water, low pressure to flush your toilets, and particles in your bath water were par for the course in Jackson, she said. Not a new phenomenon, rather an everyday occurrence. This truly saddened me, and I found myself wanting to scream at someone! We are in the year 2022 living in the United States of America and there is a city within our borders that can’t guarantee clean water to drink, brush your teeth or even flush your toilet.

To address the current “water crisis” in Jackson,  I, along with local, state and federal leaders,  participated on a conference call. Organized by the State of Mississippi to discuss this current situation, each entity detailed how it was assisting. And, while I like to see these organizations spring into action I often leave the calls still frustrated.

I can’t help but wonder why I feel this way because like every crisis before this one, people are stepping up and are working hard to get water to the people. Volunteers are coming forth. Monies are being donated for warehousing and water. Attention is being given.

Perhaps I’m more frustrated this time because very few seem to be listening to this problem. Perhaps I’m more frustrated because the challenges are so deep rooted and so complex.

What will happen to the people when the spotlight dims and the public attention is averted to the next crisis? How can these short-term solutions solve the deeper issues of poverty, numerous injustices, and despair? Few conversations taking place consider long-term solutions. If we just concentrate on the long-term solution to the water problem, that alone will cost upwards of two billion dollars.

And that just addresses clean water. We haven’t even tackled the challenges of quality education, access to nutritious food, housing, employment and a huge infusion of hope.

I know that one person, nor one organization can meet all of the needs for the people of Jackson. But my hope is that because we have now been made aware of the needs, each of us can commit ourselves to making a difference, yes during this immediate crisis, but more importantly, in the long-term transformation. Maybe too much for one, but if each one of us work together, I know that we can make a difference. Here are a few ways that you can support in Jackson.

 

 

Support the people of Jackson, Mississippi

Monetary Donations

Financial donations can help those on the ground respond to the changing needs more efficiently and are greatly appreciated. Financial donations can be sent via and all monies sent will go directly to 715 Youngs Lane, Nashville, TN 37207

 

Water Donations

Water can be sent to the Adventist Community Services (ACS) Community Center at the following address: 1066 W. Woodrow Wilson Ave Jackson, MS 39213

 

Prayer

Pray without ceasing for:

  • The residents of Jackson. Pray not only for clean drinking water, but that the city of Jackson will experience an outpouring of the Holy Spirit and will have their fill of the Living Water so that they may never thirst again.
  • Those on the ground working daily on behalf of those in Jackson. Our local ACS team led by Co-Directors Lillie Buckingham and Barbara Barnes rely on the Central Mississippi Federation who is working through Berean SDA Church, Pastor Edward Harden and South Jackson SDA Church, Pastor Michael Mickens. These local groups on the ground are delivering water three times each week for the foreseeable future. While they have the support of the Adventist Church on a local, regional and national scale, they will need more for the mammoth task that lies ahead.
  • The local, state and federal leaders. Pray that they see beyond the immediate crisis and that they resolve to provide the necessary funds and support needed to make meaningful and lasting change.

 

On God’s Program

My visit to Jackson was certainly a wake-up call for me.

I remember that while there is poverty and suffering everywhere, we serve a God Who is the originator of sheltering programs (Isaiah 25:4, Psalm 27:5 and 91:1-2), emergency food assistance programs (Matthew 14:13-21, John 6:48-51), no child left behind (Matthew 19:14), and poverty eradication programs (Proverbs 50:10).

We know that it’s in our weaknesses and frustrations that God works best (2 Corinthians 12:9) and I have renewed my trust in Him. Knowing that all those who are helping and giving are making a difference strengthens me. So, it is my prayer that each of you not lose hope, remembering that God loves, sees and hears His children in Jackson, Mississippi.

Now let’s go be the hands and feet of Jesus, as we bring forth light and hope.

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