Don Graham reports for OneLife:
BIHAR STATE, India—Aaron Blanton rubs the sleep from his eyes as he slides from his bunk on an overnight train to Patna, India. The trip, scheduled at nine hours, has now dragged on for more than 13. Worse, Blanton’s suitcase didn’t make his flight into New Delhi. He’s been living in the same pair of clothes for three days.
It sounds like a travel horror story from his time on tour as the drummer for SONICFLOOd, or more recently, front man for the Christian rock group By the Tree. Aside from a few wrinkles and a bad case of bed head, however, Blanton seems ready to rock. But it’s not a gig that’s brought the 32-year-old Christian musician more than 10,000 miles from his California home — it’s clean water.
Blanton is part of OneLife, a student-driven movement sponsored by IMB. It challenges young adults to use their “one life” to make a difference in others’ lives for Christ’s glory, meeting physical and spiritual needs around the globe. Specifically, Blanton wants to raise awareness for OneLife’s “One Cup of Water” project. The idea is simple. Repair or replace broken, hand-pumped wells in 1,200 rural villages across Bihar, India’s poorest state. The payoff? Providing clean drinking water to thousands of men, women and children living in absolute poverty.
CLEAN WATER, CHEAP
It’s a cheap fix, at least by Western standards. Before heading to a nearby village for a firsthand look at the problem, Blanton stops at a roadside plumbing store (shack). He emerges with a pair of brand-new water pump handles, essentially 2-foot long, cast-iron bars. Broken handles are a common problem among village wells in the area, rendering otherwise good pumps useless. Together, the handles cost 400 rupees. That’s about $8 each — less than the cost of a movie ticket.
“We’re talking under 25 bucks to give a village clean water. That’s amazing,” Blanton says with a grin. He lugs the handles to the SUV and the OneLife team presses on. The village is at least an hour’s drive over rough, sometimes crowded, rural roads that wind through mustard farms and rice fields. It’s beautiful country, and Blanton’s excitement is palpable.
“Every time I come here it’s the same impression — that it is possible to change lives in a place that seems impossible. That’s what God’s grace does,” he says. “Water is one of those essential ingredients. … But they just don’t have the means.
“I hear the question, ‘Why can’t they do it themselves?’ a lot as I get into these kinds of humanitarian projects. But that’s not what the Bible says. … It says if they ask, give. It says if we see a need, fill it. … Why wouldn’t we want to help? That’s my question back.”
Read the rest of the story — and find out how you can help — by clicking here.
Watch Aaron’s powerful music video We Are The Hands.