Today more than 2.2 million people call the area around Portland, Oregon home. One hundred years ago, the City of Portland was a bustling lumber town of just over 200,000 citizens. Stumptown, as the city was also called because of the many trees which had been cut in the area, had a big problem. At noon, the lumbermen filled the saloons and then terrorized the city with their drunken behavior the rest of the day.
One of Portland’s leading citizens, Simon Benson, had an idea. He donated $10,000 to the city to install drinking fountains on every street corner. The “Benson Bubblers” would supply fresh drinking water around the clock. Free drinking water, Benson believed, would keep the lumberjacks from getting drunk on booze.
Clean and free drinking water didn’t stop the growth of the saloons or public drunkenness. Human nature, because of sin, always finds its buoyancy at the lowest level openly accepted by a community; then what isn’t accepted openly is accepted under the darkness of cover. The hearts of Portland’s lumberjacks were not changed by fresh and free water. Only salvation in Jesus changes the heart.
Neither thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were set apart, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God (1 Corinthians 6:10, 11).
Fifty-four of these original 4-bowl bubblers are still in full-time operation in downtown Portland, and drunken people still wander the streets.