Laps, the Loo or La-La Land?

I have completed swimming 1,000 laps at 10 different Sydney Olympic pools in February. 

This crazy venture was to raise awareness about and to provide water for communities in parts of the world where people are at risk of sickness and death. It was also to provide bursaries for Bible training in Africa to better equip those who offer a quality of water that will quench our spiritual thirst forever.

I’ve been called crazy before - and a lot worse. But when a cynical friend suggested that instead of swimming a thousand laps in a month I could drink a thousand litres of water over the same period and write a book called, “My life In The Loo.” Or, “The Inside Story of Outside Toilets in Sydney,” I drew the line.

Crazy I might be but that’s just plain cruel.

February has been Anglican Aid’s Water Works For A Thirsty World month. Throughout the month and especially in Water Works Week (February 17-26) hundreds (thousands I hope) of Sydney Anglicans were doing personal water themed challenges and raising funds for the cause.

My challenge was to swim 100 laps of an Olympic pool at 10 different venues across the month. I finished the task last Sunday morning at 8:30am at the Kings School pool at Parramatta before the Kings School church service. Many agreed to join me for the   swimming challenge, urging me on from the blocks or swimming a few laps with me. One man, Ron Bowers aged 79, did 20 laps with me at Nowra. Two friends, Aiden and Bronwyn went the distance and also did a thousand. Some people have sponsored me for a cent a lap ($10), others for a dollar ($1,000), and some other amounts. They kept me motivated. But more than that, it is the people in water stress who kept me churning out the laps.

Other challenges that Anglican Aid friends have taken on include drinking nothing but water for a week, lapping a local lake several times on the walking track, 40 people from the same church swimming for 10 hours non-stop in a roster (15 minutes each) in an indoor pool while everyone else parties around the pool, car washes, windscreen washing, rationing a small quantity of water for a day to wash and cook with, a water pistol fight with a limited ration of water . . . . (the challenges are endless).

In the month of the challenge we have received news of several humanitarian crises. One email documented more outbreaks of violence in South Sudan, in a region which has been stable up till now and where we have had a range of development and Bible training projects. Hundreds of thousands of frightened people are flooding across the borders into Uganda. Archbishop Stanley Ntagali has cried out for help.

Another email came from the bishop of a northern Kenyan diocese, where Norm and Janelle Gorrie will soon return to serve with CMS. A severe famine is wiping out crops and livestock with emergency water and food needed for daily survival.

Yet another report came in about a number of Christians being executed for blasphemy in a Middle East country and still another report about 22 Christians on death row for blasphemy in another country.

Throughout the month I was reading through the Book of Revelation. The last book of the Bible is ‘book-ended’ by these visions:

    His voice was like the sound of rushing waters (Revelation 1:15).

    The river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb (Revelation 22:1).

The world is in La-La Land, and not the Hollywood version. That version has been and is chaotic enough. 

But water brings life and hope - both now and especially for eternity.