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Where there's a will, there's a well

Grace Lutheran Church in Detroit Lakes has joined other ELCA churches across the U.S. in their efforts to bring fresh drinking water to the villages of developing projects. This wishing well was placed in the church last April for members to toss in their loose change. By December, the church had raised $2,500 -- enough to dig one well for the 100 Wells project. Submitted Photo

Osmosis. It's the tendency of fluid, usually water, to pass through a semi-permeable membrane until there is an equal amount of fluid on both sides.

That's the scientific definition. The human definition is when a group of empathetic, caring individuals with ample water pass through their own barriers to make sure water is distributed to people on the other side of the world who will certainly die without it.

The big difference is the scientific version happens naturally. The human version happens only when there is a will. And for members of the Grace Lutheran Church in Detroit Lakes, where there is a will, there is a well.

The congregation just joined other ELCA churches across the country in their efforts to bring fresh drinking water to the villages of developing countries. A wishing well was placed in the church in April for members to toss their loose change, and by December, the congregation had raised $2,500 -- enough to dig one well for the Christian-based project called 100 Wells.

"The second largest killer of children is unclean water, and that's what really touched our group," said Grace Lutheran Pastor Rob Nelson, who says the well will likely be drilled either in the Central African Republic, China or Sudan sometime in the next six months.

"And we've asked them that when they designate the funds we be notified of the exact local because our hope is that if possible, we could develop a relationship with that village or community," said Nelson, who says if that happens, they may be able to continue to help their newly found "sister" community with other needs as the new well will provide enough water for 250 people.

"If they don't even have water, you can about imagine all of the other needs they must have that we could possibly help with," said Nelson.

But according to the ELCA World Hunger Department website, clean water can clear the way for so much more. It states that on average, women (and often times children who are forced to skip school) must walk about three miles a day (or 660 hours a year) to find water, and even then it's often dirty and contaminated.

That means about half of all people in these developing counties suffer from some kind of illness from unsafe water.

One out of every four to five children never make it to their fifth birthday because of this.

"So we knew, we just had to do something," said Nelson, who says it's made many of his church members think twice about the ever-plenty water we have here and how it's taken for granted and wasted.

"And I think it's gotten people here feeling really excited that our efforts are really going to impact a village and its people like this -- our little church up on the hill," said Nelson, adding that the project has planted a seed and given them the confidence that they can do much more.

"Our stewardship committee came up with so many ideas because they're all so motivated now," he said, commenting on how much people can do when they band together.

"It's like my change and your change in our pockets doesn't seem like a lot, but when you start grouping it together, it's like one candle lit and then another and another, and that's when it begins to really radiate."

For more information on the 100 Wells Project, go to the website,