Peter Baklinski

Wells of Hope: affirming life with every glass of clean cold drinking water

Peter Baklinski
Peter Baklinski
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GUATAMALA, 6 November, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – What is a pro-life good Samaritan to do when many mainstream charities to the third world — allegedly basing themselves on Gospel values — have been exposed as having damning connections to the abortion industry?

The answer is simple: find and support truly pro-life charities that affirm every human life that they, or their partner organizations, come in contact with.

Wells of Hope is one such organization.

Photojournalist Ken Fast from Derwent, Alberta recently traveled to Guatamala where he filmed material for a forthcoming documentary on Wells of Hope. LifeSiteNews sat down with him to hear the story of his journey.

Wells of Hope, founded by Ontarian Ted van der Zalm in 2004, is a Christian organization that drills wells in Guatamala. The goal is to provide clean reliable drinking water to the poorest of the poor. Well-drilling rigs have made the long haul from Canada to Guatamala to make this goal a reality.

Wells of Hope has already completed 11 wells that are estimated to be serving 35,000 individuals.

When van der Zalm first visited Guatamala a number of years ago, he found that people in the mountainous regions of Santa Maria and Jalapa collected water in the rainy season to use in the dry season. The water, sitting in open ponds and waterholes, often served a whole village.

But the open-air reservoirs easily became contaminated. Animals drank from them and defecated into them. Women washed clothes in them. The dirty water quickly became a carrier of disease and parasites. Chronic diarrhea was a killer dreaded by everyone.

Van der Zalm, a school teacher with well-drilling experience, was dismayed that the muddy brown water was the only way that the indigenous people could sustain life.

The polluted water sustained life, but it also took life.

Fast explained that in some places in Guatamala, the infant mortality rate is as high as 50% due to contaminated water.

“These are the little kids that will die in their first two or three years of life from all the complications of bad drinking water,” he said.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that diarrhea caused by polluted water is the “second leading cause of death among children under five globally”. The disease claims nearly 1.5 million young lives each year, one death every 21 seconds. According to WHO, the disease “kills more young children than AIDS, malaria, and measles combined.”

Fast, who had once lived in Guatamala, said he was passionate about filming the documentary on Wells of Hope because of how the people in the organization “attend to the most basic needs of these [poor] people”.

Through the documentary, Fast hopes to raise awareness of how clean water can change lives. He hopes to inspire people to take action.

Fast explained that providing clean drinking water is truly “pro-life.” Being pro-life, he said, is more than being “against abortion”: it’s also about supporting and sustaining a child’s survival after it has been born.

For van der Zalm, providing clean drinking water to the poor is “all about the culture of life”.

In an email to LifeSiteNews via Fast, van der Zalm pointed out that “without water there is no life.”

“Wells of Hope has always maintained the providing of clean, reliable sources of water as the first priority. [...] In a culture that encourages large families, abortion is not an issue. The greatest killer of children, in the first delicate years of life, is the bacteria infested water that the poor have no choice but to consume.”

Fast followed van der Zalm with a camera as he entered villages with plans for a new well.

In one piece of footage, van der Zalm meets with community members and says: “We are here because we believe in God…And He calls us to give water to those who are thirsty.”

“Ted starts every meeting like that,” said Fast.

“He talks about the Gospel. He tells the people that if they are thirsty, it’s as if he is thirsty too.”

In one portion of raw footage viewed by LifeSiteNews, van der Zalm says that “love of God” is what compels him to “reach out to people we don’t even know”.

“It’s all about really answering the Gospel challenge: ‘When I was hungry, did you give me to eat, when I was thirsty, did you give me to drink? (Matthew 25:35),’” he said.

Van der Zalm believes that Christians “have an obligation to nurture life, to take care of life to the best of our ability because that is the presence of Christ amongst us.

“We cannot claim to love God if we do not love our neighbour.”

“So, the testimony of the greatness of our love for God is to what degree are we willing to love and go out and support life, to support the families who are struggling, trying to grow, trying to mature.”

Find out why LifeSiteNews is a proud sponsor of the Wells of Hope documentary project.

Support Wells of Hope. Earmark donations to see Ken Fast’s documentary completed.

View a short Youtube video on Wells of Hope by Ken Fast.

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Lisa Bourne

‘You can’t have’ marriage equality ‘without polygamy’

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne

July 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Motivated by the U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing homosexual “marriage,” a Montana polygamist has filed for a second marriage license, so he can be legally wed to two women at once.

"It's about marriage equality," said Nathan Collier, using homosexual advocates’ term to support marriage redefinition. "You can't have this without polygamy."

Collier, who has has appeared on the TLC reality show Sister Wives with his legal wife Victoria, and his second wife Christine, said he was inspired by the dissent in the Supreme Court decision.

The minority Supreme Court justices said in Friday’s ruling it would open the door to both polygamy and religious persecution.

“It is striking how much of the majority’s reasoning would apply with equal force to the claim of a fundamental right to plural marriage,” wrote Chief Justice John Roberts.

Collier and his wives applied for a second marriage license earlier this week at the Yellowstone County Courthouse in Billings, a report from the Salt Lake Tribune said.

Collier, who was excommunicated from the Mormon Church for polygamy, married Victoria in 2000 and had a religious wedding ceremony with Christine in 2007. The three have seven children between them and from previous relationships.

"My second wife Christine, who I'm not legally married to, she's put up with my crap for a lot of years. She deserves legitimacy," Collier said.

Yellowstone County officials initially denied the application before saying they would consult with the County Attorney and get him a final answer.

Click "like" if you want to defend true marriage.

Bigamy, the holding of multiple marriage licenses, is illegal all 50 states, but Collier plans to sue if his application is denied. Officials expect to have an answer for him next week.

While homosexual “marriage” supporters have long insisted legalization of same-sex unions would not lead to polygamy, pro-life and family advocates have warned all along it would be inevitable with the redefinition of marriage.

“The next court cases coming will push for polygamy, as Chief Justice John Roberts acknowledged in his dissent,” said Penny Nance, president of Concerned Women for America, after the Supreme Court ruling. “The chief justice said “the argument for polygamy is actually stronger than that for ‘gay marriage.’ It’s only a matter of time.”

In a piece from the Washington Times, LifeSiteNews Editor-in-Chief and the co-founder of Voice of the Family John-Henry Westen stated the move toward legal polygamy is “just the next step in unraveling how Americans view marriage.”

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Chris Christie: Clerks must perform same-sex ‘marriages’ regardless of their religious beliefs

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By Ben Johnson

TRENTON, NJ, July 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Chris Christie is not known for nuance. This time, he has turned his fiery personality loose on county clerks and other officials who have religious objections to performing same-sex “marriages.”

In a tone usually reserved for busting teachers' unions, Christie told clerks who hold traditional values, “You took the job, and you took the oath.” He would offer no exemption for an individual whose conscience would not allow him to participate in a union the vast majority of the world's religions deem sinful.

“When you go back and re-read the oath it doesn’t give you an out. You have to do it,” he said.

He told a reporter that there “might” be “individual circumstances” that “merit some examination, but none that come immediately to mind for me.”

“I think for folks who are in the government world, they kind of have to do their job, whether you agree with the law or you don’t,” the pugnacious governor said.

Since the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to legalize homosexual “marriage” last Friday, elected officials have grappled with how to safeguard the rights of those who have deeply held religious beliefs that would not allow them to participate in such a ceremony.

Christie's response differs markedly from other GOP hopefuls' responses to the Supreme Court ruling. Mike Huckabee, for instance, has specifically said that clerks should have conscience rights. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal signed an executive order granting such rights and ordered clerks to wait until a pending court case was fully adjudicated before any clerk issues a marriage license to a homosexual couple.

Christie gave up a legal appeal after a superior court judge struck down his state's voter-approved constitutional marriage protection amendment. New Jersey is the only state where such a low court overturned the will of the voters.

The decision to ignore conscience rights adds to the growing number of Christie's positions that give conservatives pause.

The natural locus of support for a Christie 2016 presidential run is the Republican's socially liberal donor class, for personal as well as political reasons. His wife works on Wall Street, and some of the GOP's high-dollar donors – including Paul Singer – have courted Christie for years.

However, this year Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and to a lesser degree Scott Walker have eclipsed Christie as the preferred candidates of the boardroom donors – who sometimes prefer Democrats to Republicans.

Christie also used language during a speech before the Republican Jewish Coalition last year, which concerned some major GOP donors.

Christie is reportedly spending this weekend with Mitt Romney and his family at Romney's New Hampshire home. Romney declined to enter the 2016 race himself and may be able to open his donor list to Christie's struggling campaign.

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After having a girl with Down syndrome, this couple adopted two more

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By Ben Johnson

LINO LAKE, MN, July 3, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – For most people, having five biological children would have been enough. In fact, for many Americans, large families are treated as a scandal or a burden.

But one family made the decision, not just to have a large family, but to give a home to some of the most vulnerable children in the world: Girls born overseas with Down syndrome.

Lee and Karen Shervheim love all seven of their children, biological or otherwise. Undeterred by having twin boys – Daniel and Andrew, 18 – they had Sam four years later.

They now have three daughters who are all 11 years old. All three have Down syndrome.

And two of them are adopted.

About the time their eight-year-old son, David, was born, Lee and Karen decided to adopt a child with Down syndrome to be a companion to their daughter, Annie.

They made the further unexpected choice to adopt a child from Eastern Europe with the help of Reece's Rainbow, which helps parents adopt children with Down syndrome.

“Between my wife and I, we couldn’t get it out of our heads,” Lee told the Quad City Press. “So many children need families and we knew we could potentially do something about it.”

After originally deciding to adopt Katie, they spent six weeks in Kiev, visiting an orphanage in nearby Kharkov. While there, they decided they may have room in their heart, and their home, for another child.

When they saw a picture of Emie striking the same pose as their biological daughter in one of their photographs, they knew they would come home with two children.

Both girls were the same age as their Annie. She would not lack for companionship, as they worried.

Lee said after the Ukrainian government – finally – completed the paperwork, they returned to the United States, when the real challenges began.

“The unvarnished truth,” Lee told the Press, is that adopting the Russian-speaking special needs children “was really disruptive to our family. They came with so many issues that we had not anticipated.”

After teaching them sign language and appropriate behavior, they moved to Lino Lake, Minnesota and found a new support group in Eagle Brook Church. There they found personal assistance and spiritual solace.

Every year in the past seven years has been better and better, they say.

“I think my girls can do almost anything they want to do,” he said, “and that’s what I want to help them become.”

The family's devotion is fueled by their faith, and it informs the sense of humor Lee showed in a tweet during the 2014 midterm elections:

It takes a special person to believe in the potential of the “mentally retarded,” as they were once labeled. Today, 90 percent of all babies diagnosed with Down syndrome in the womb will be aborted. The percentage is higher in some countries. Some have even spoken of "a world without people with Down syndrome."

Their God, and their experience, tell them that every child has infinite worth and potential, Lee told local media, and he would encourage anyone to follow his footsteps and adopt a Down syndrome child – or two.

“The message is that it really doesn’t matter where you started or where you came from,” Lee said. “There are endless opportunities for everyone, whether they have disabilities or not. They deserve a shot.”

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