I was meeting with a group of graduate students from around the world. In a relaxed moment, the students started talking about what they found most striking about American culture. They brought up the size of our grocery stores, our religious and ethnic tolerance, and our friendliness.

One woman explained that she was from a small farming village on the Korean peninsula. When she came to school in the U.S., it was her first time out of her rural setting. What is it like to live in rural Asia for decades and then suddenly be beamed up to urban America? “What strikes me most,” she said.

“What strikes me as the most amazing thing is that in America everyone empties their bladder in gallons of pure drinking water.”

Her cheeks blushed, and she looked around the room to see what the reaction would be.

One flush of the average American toilet is more fresh drinking water than one third of the world uses in a day. As access to clean water becomes increasingly rare, followers of Christ must become better stewards of this precious gift.

For more of Dr. Sleeth’s reflections, see the Blessed Earth Hope for Creation Films and Guidebooks (Zondervan 2010).