Surprised by Water
I sat on a log along with hundreds of others both standing and sharing the log with me in a remote village in Zambia. We all had our eyes glued on the large drilling rig, hoping to see water gush up from the ground. The day moved on and no water. Each time the cups from the earth came up through the rig, the cups were filled with dry soil and sand. Things looked a bit hopeless.
One of the women from the community tapped me on the shoulder and asked if I would join some of them as they made their usual trip to the river to get water for drinking and cooking. I was honored to join them in their 5K trek. When I got to the river, though I felt appalled. We shared the river with animals already in the water, bathing and defecating – and some women were doing their laundry in the same water and laying their clothes on rocks to dry while children played in the river. The women I’d accompanied dipped their buckets in this water, filled them to the brim, and put them on their heads before we headed back to the village. I resumed my place back on the log and they went on to their homes to begin preparing food and doing their daily duties.
As I sat on that log, waiting and waiting for the water to come gushing from the ground, I pondered on my experience at the river, thinking about the number of children who die before the age of five from diarrhea and other waterborne diseases. I could see now how easily illnesses could plague people without access to clean water and how death can be prevented with clean water. It was easy in that moment for me to understand why the UN declared that clean water is a fundamental human right.
Well, we finally had some good news in the cups of soil and sand coming up from the ground with the drilling rig; there was moisture. Then, suddenly there was a large gush of water that shot 10 feet up in the air and kept going! The drilling team immediately began to make furrows in the ground for the water to be contained. But the crowd around me was silent, surprising me.
Sitting beside me was the pastor of the local church. I turned to the pastor and said, “Someone needs to do something.” He turned his face toward mine and that is when I saw tears unabashedly gushing down his cheeks – which was culturally atypical, at that. I realized then that I needed to be quiet, too. He was already doing something and the people were following him.
He stood and walked over to the water running over the ground. He put one hand down on the water and the other hand up. to the heavens and said, “Today folks, this is Resurrection Day; God has heard our Cry.” And with that, the dancing and singing started with genuine thanks to God.
Several things went through my mind at the words of the pastor. Yes, God had heard their cry and had provided the funds for this clean water through a church in South Dakota. I was also reminded of Moses at the burning bush as noted in Exodus 3. God said to Moses that He had heard the cry of the people and was coming down to rescue them. I am sure Moses was thinking, “Finally at last some relief for my people.” But then God had a bit of surprise for Moses when he said, “I am sending you.” (v. 10)
This, I think, continues to be how God brings opportunity, dignity, and hope to people in the 21st Century: by bringing us as individuals and communities into each other’s lives at the right time. I am so grateful to the thousands who have responded over the years to God’s call in being the people “sent” through generous giving of finance, themselves, and relationships.
Today, clean water continues to be one of the areas that World Hope focuses on – whether it be through drilling wells, desalination, or affordable tap-water solutions. Learn more about our clean water projects.
To support our work around the world, you can make a gift to The Hope Fund, which allows us to respond where and when it matters as, together, we work to alleviate poverty, suffering, and injustice.