1 in every 3 wells in Africa is out of order. Perpetually. Unable to be used. Even worse: there are very few people trained to repair them. Many organizations have been compelled to provide a well for people in Africa. But when they break down, nothing can be done. The donors and their equipment are out of reach. Very few wells 'gifted' to Africa turn out to be a sustainable water source.
Giving people access to water is not something new for our organization. It is, in fact, something you must be involved in if you work in Africa at all. But in the beginning stages of our work in Africa, we didn’t have the funds to provide wells. So, we did what we could: teach our friends to catch water, use it wisely, treat it, and eventually repair the wells that already existed.
In 1998, Gregg Garner and Robert Munoz dug cesspools, sewers and provided irrigation systems for two rural communities.
In 1999, Gregg, Rob and Jason Roufs installed a small water catchment system that gravity fed water to homes and gardens.
By 2007, our mission teams performed rain catchment repairs, familiarizing themselves with the many ways that water catchment breaks down.
By 2008, John and Josh Kurtz performed water testing and taught locals what filter options would best work for their needs. Soon after, the father-son duo taught the first Soil and Water seminars at our headquarters in Tennessee.
In 2010-11, we designed and installed home and school rain catchment systems and reliable cisterns.
Since 2013, we have trained 12 well repairmen who are able to re-establish water sources for hundreds of people in need.
In 2014, we created a grey water system to carry used water from homes to irrigate the ground. We began teaching "Soil and Water" at the Institute for G.O.D., and creating our own slow sand filtration prototypes to use around the world.
In 2015, we assisted a primary school by repairing their gutter and catchment system, re-incorporating water into their daily experience.
Now in 2016, we drilled two wells—establishing a water supply for a small community, a dozen farmers, and a primary school.
Jesus says, “Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much." We started with very little. Those humble beginnings pressed us to come up with solutions that would help our friends get by “for now, until there is more.”
Jesus continues, “If you have not been faithful with what belongs to another, who will give you what is your own?” A very interesting statement. Before you are given something of your own, you are tested in the way you treat someone else’s. Typically, human beings are concerned with what is theirs, and that's all. In regards to what belongs to another, a hands-off approach is the wisdom of our age: “Not My Problem.” But Jesus says we should even be faithful in what belongs to others!
For us, the thing that belonged to others was wells. Humbled by our lack of resources, and compelled by Jesus’ words, we overturned the advice “not my problem,” with the command “love my neighbor.” We did our best to ensure that the wells in the locality of our Ugandan hub were functioning well, including some very difficult repairs. Our empowered team of locals did this free of charge, happy to give of the skills they received to help neighbors who were gifted a well but suffered a lack of faithful upkeep. If we didn’t do our very best to ensure that the wells in the surrounding area were functioning well, why should we think we deserve our own well?
Our team of well repairmen were faithful. They repaired over a dozen wells, with only some sodas given in exchange for their service. Their faithfulness has been noted in the surrounding area. They still get requests to repair wells multiple times a month!
This year has been very exciting. The Lord has provided for not just one well, but two, that will directly impact the quality of life for people we’ve been working with for over a decade. The almost 200 garden beds they’ve dug will now receive the irrigation needed to thrive. The children at the local school will soon have access to water for their school garden, and not have to sacrifice their school day to fetching water miles away. Families will no longer have their days revolve around retrieving water. But we have not forgotten where we came from: very little.
The passage concludes, “No slave can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.” Serving the Lord often begins with the humbling task of preserving life without proper resources. Through that process, our loyalties are tested. The passing grade is not easy to come by. It requires faith in God, and faithfulness to do the work he gives. But the Lord has always been enough. He is our Master, and a very good one. We believe that he’s found us faithful to handle these two wells.
Before there was a well, there were well repairmen.
Before there were well repairmen, there was education on water catchment, filtration and irrigation.
Be faithful with little. For if you are, you will also be faithful in much.