PIPELINE PROVIDING A CUP OF WATER IN JESUS’ NAME WINTER 2008
HELPING HAITI REBUILD
UPDATES ON INDIA, NIGERIA, & CAR
OPENING THE DOOR TO THE CANDOSHI
EDITORIAL: THE SECRET OF JOY
FACES OF RWANDA
JOIN THE ADVENT CONSPIRACY!
A CLOSER LOOK: HEALTH & HYGIENE
A WORD FROM THE PRESIDENT
PIPELINE VOLUME 7
For several years now, Living Water International has organized what we call
LIVING WATER INTERNATIONAL
“Share the Vision” events around the country. They are usually small lunch or
Chairman of the Board
dinner meetings, or sometimes informal receptions in restaurants or homes,
hosted by people who are excited about helping the thirsty. We tell the story,
share photos, show videos, give updates, and introduce the mission and vision of LWI.
Many who attend these events are touched
Living Water International Headquarters PO Box 35496 Houston, TX 77235-5496 877.594.4426 www.water.cc
in their hearts and moved to embrace LWI’s vision, mission, and values. They enter into the story, becoming champions for the
Living Water International Canada 290 Lawrence Ave W. Toronto, Ontario Canada M5M 1B3 Phone: 1.877.988.4688 www.livingwatercanada.org
thirsty. In a world where we dull our senses by all the “noise” our culture throws at us, it’s
Living Water International exists to demonstrate the love of God by helping communities acquire desperately needed clean water, and experience “living water”—the gospel of Jesus Christ—which alone satisfies the deepest thirst.
amazing to watch people become truly passionate about something meaningful, like taking clean water and the good news about Jesus to the most desperate people on the planet. I pray that you will catch that vision, too.
PIPELINE is published quarterly by Living Water International to raise awareness about the global water crisis and to inspire Christians everywhere to respond with compassion to the needy of the world.
As you take in the stories and photos in this edition of PIPELINE—as you see the opportunities that God is opening for us to share clean water and the love of Christ with people thirsty for both—I hope your heart will be stirred.
We welcome your stories, comments and/or address changes. Send them to: The Editor, Pipeline, PO Box 35496, Houston, TX 77235-5496 or email the editor: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Celebrate transformed lives and communities with us. Have compassion for those still waiting for transformation to come. Hope with us. Pray with us.
Living Water International is a nonprofit Christian organization and tax exempt by the IRS under code section 501(c)(3). Gifts are tax deductible as allowed by law. Contributions are solicited with the understanding that the donee organization has complete discretion and control over the use of all donated funds.
Rejoice with us. Become an advocate for the thirsty, “Sharing the Vision” with your family, neighbors, co-workers, and friends.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations in this publication are from the Holy Bible, Today’s New International Version™ TNIV Copyright © 2001, 2005 by International Bible Society. All rights reserved.
(( IN THIS ISSUE )))))) 4 6 8 10 14 15
All photos by staff and volunteers of Living Water International unless otherwise noted.
| A CLOSER LOOK: HEALTH & HYGIENE
COPYRIGHT © 2008 BY LIVING WATER INTERNATIONAL INC.
| OPENING THE DOOR TO THE CANDOSHI
Combined Federal Campaign # 10788
| FACES OF RWANDA | STORMSTRUCK: HELPING HAITI REBUILD
| GLOBAL UPDATES | EDITORIAL: THE SECRET OF JOY
BE INFORMED • GET INVOLVED • GIVE
3.22.09 IS WORLD WATER DAY. COME THIRSTY! Back in 1992, the United Nations declared the first World Water Day, designating March 22 as a day for bringing attention to the great need for clean, safe drinking water around the world. We think it’s a great idea. This year, invite your friends to “Come Thirsty!” From black-tie affairs to barbeques—any gathering can bring attention to the global water crisis. Organize a community walk, sell t-shirts, wash cars, have a bake sale, plan a neighborhood garage sale, hold an auction—the sky is the limit. Whether you’re a student, a teacher, a cub scout leader, or a domestic engineer—you can be part of the movement. For more ideas and information on observing World Water Day in your area, check out the “Get Involved” section at www.water.cc, or contact Cheryl Thornton for event ideas and resources (email@example.com).
((( ON THE WEB Want to stay in touch with the story of the thirsty between issues of Pipeline? Check the LWI News Center for regularly updated features, notes from the field, compelling photography, and then join the conversation yourself. Click on “News Center” at www.water.cc, or go straight to www.lwinews.com. Oh, and don’t forget to sign up for our monthly eNewsletter.
GOD IS LOVE, LOVE IS WATER. LWI community “colored the world with love” this fall, raising more than $1.6 million at LWI’s tenth annual Houston gala. More than 700 guests attended the event, which was chaired by Joe and Hollis Bullard. In his report to the LWI community, Chairman Gary Loveless focused on God’s blessings over the last 10 years. Field personnel from India and Haiti shared stories about the transformation that happens when the most desperate people on the planet experience clean water and the good news about Jesus. The audience was entertained and inspired by the music of Houston’s Robbie Seay Band. LWI’s Stan Patyrak finished the evening with stories and video that evoked joy, compassion, and righteous indignation; he invited guests to step into the lives of the thirsty, and gave a moving challenge to give time, money, and presence. Missed out on the fun this year? Make plans to attend next year’s Houston gala—September 25, 2009.
THE GIFT OF WATER IN HOLLAND (MICHIGAN, THAT IS) Laughter and love filled Central Wesleyan Church during Michigan’s first annual fundraising event. The audience was delighted by desserts and entertained by comedian Rick Merrill. Focusing on Haiti, field representative Rick Hutchinson reported how LWI teams are working to repair broken pumps while sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ. Rick shared stories of lives that have been changed both physically and spiritually because of the gifts given towards these projects. Through these stories, those listening fell in love with the people of Haiti. The event raised $73,000. For more information on getting involved in the Michigan area, contact Jodi Mohney (firstname.lastname@example.org).
((( ON THE COVER Pastor Adler Dorvilien stands in front of Bethel Evangelical Church in Gonaives, Haiti. During the flooding that followed Tropical Storm Hanna, 200 people crowded onto the church’s roof for three days without food or water. For the full story, read “Stormstruck” (page 10).
A CLOSER LOOK:
HEALTH & HYGIENE BY PAUL DARILEK
Germs, terror, glitter.
The World Health Organization says the single most costeffective health intervention in the world is handwashing with soap, which alone could cut incidence of diarrhea in half! ¹ This year WHO declared October 15 “Global Handwashing Day.” Handwashing with soap at critical times (before eating, after using the bathroom, etc) would save more lives than any single vaccine or medical intervention known to humankind, but it’s only very recently being seen as a life-saving opportunity. ² It sounds simple, but changing behavior is enormously difficult. LWI’s Jodi Mohney has been looking at this issue for years. Jodi’s interest in health and hygiene was born out of a passion for working with other moms. Her perspective was a great place to start because in the world of health, hygiene, and behavior modification, a knack for talking to moms can be worth more than an advanced degree in medicine. LWI’s resulting health and hygiene course combines playful, memorable teaching techniques with tried-and-true hygiene practices appropriate for developing communities, and integrates the message of the gospel. It is taught by trained short-term missionaries as well as by our in-country nationals. Some of our teams in Africa and Latin America are even training others in their own countries to teach hygiene.
Germs kill many more people every day than terrorists do, but they don’t grab our attention. How do you teach people to beware of something they can’t even see? One way is to put some glitter on your hand, then shake hands with someone. Then they shake hands with someone else. Next thing you know, the 10th person down the line has glitter on her hands. Now, you’re not just talking about disease transmission, you’re seeing how it happens.
Big teeth. Remember the dental hygienist who came to your elementary school? Remember those red tablets we chewed that stained the spots we didn’t brush? Well, that hygienist didn’t make it to the developing world. So we teach people on a larger-than-life set of teeth. We’re not sure what is so funny about brushing gigantic teeth, but people laugh and proper tooth brushing habits get seared into their memories.
Diarrhea Doll. Nobody forgets their time with the diarrhea doll. She’s a great way to illustrate how dehydration kills and what can be done about it. Nearly everyone in the world has a cheap and easy solution in their kitchen. The doll opens the door for teaching people how to concoct their own oral rehydration solution with clean water, salt, and sugar. Everybody remembers the recipe because they get to keep the specially-made measuring spoon. In the hygiene world, where highly memorable is better than highly technical, a little diarrhea doll goes a long way towards saving lives.
Tippy Tap. When I was a missionary in the rural mountains of El Salvador, a physician came to our village and taught us all about washing our hands with soap. We listened attentively, but none of us started washing our hands—water was too scarce. Too bad we didn’t know how to make a tippy tap: a home-made hanging water-saving device (made from a plastic jug) complete with soap-on-a-rope. It’s ideal for handwashing when water is scarce.
Woman to woman, mom to mom. Perhaps most importantly, the health and hygiene course is about building relationships. Day one consists of knocking on doors and making friends. For many traditional people groups, a physician in a doctor’s office may as well be from another planet. But motherhood connects women across any cultural line. So when moms see their kids laughing and playing, engaged in games and crafts, they show
up because they see that we care about their kids. It’s important for the moms to be there; they have the biggest influence over household hygiene habits. It’s important for the kids to learn the lessons the games teach; children more easily change their habits than adults, and are the most vulnerable to hygiene-related illness.
Ladies? LWI strives to involve women in teaching health and hygiene. Women in the developing world have enough men telling them what to do; they tend to feel more at ease among other women. It’s important that they feel comfortable learning these lessons, because there are more lives to be saved through good hygiene practices than through the most advanced medical technologies in the world. The most important things to teach are often the simplest—like handwashing with soap. You can change the world. Register to take LWI’s Health and Hygiene course (visit www.water. cc), then sign up for a mission trip to go teach it. You’ll make friends and find new people to love.
65,000,000,000 germ-spreading fingers. LWI is acutely aware of the need for hygiene training as a mortality reducer—there are, after all, 13 billion hands and 65 billion germ-spreading fingers in the world. We’re constantly learning new ways to communicate these important lessons to the people we serve, and are excited to see the program expanding into new countries every year. Teaching hygiene is also a chance to share our faith. Biblical truths are integrated into the course, and people experience our Lord who motivates us to serve others. The love he taught us 2,000 years ago might be the only eternal component in all our work. Our wells and tippy taps may not be here in a thousand years, but you can be sure that the love we share will be passed along.
1. Lorna Fewtrell, Kaufmann R.B., Kay D., Enanoria W., Haller L., dan Colford J.M.C., Jr 2005. “Water, sanitation, and hygiene interventions to reduce diarrhea in less developed countries: A systematic review and meta analysis.” The Kancet Infectious Diseases, Vol. 5, Issue 1:42-52. Also, Curtis, V. and
Top Left: While in Sierra Leone, LWI volunteer Lael Kucera used the diarrhea doll to demonstrate what dehydration does to the human body. Top Right: Sudanese women use a tippy tap to wash their hands. Middle: Severely malnourished twins in Sierra Leone were given a life-saving dose of a homemade oral rehydration solution. Above: Though hard to see, this Salvadoran boy’s hands are covered with glitter, which represents germs.
Cairncross, S. 2003. “Effect of washing hands with soap on diarrhoea risk in the community: A systematic review.” The Lancet Infectious Diseases, Vol.3, May 2003, pp 275-281. • 2. Lorna Fewtrell et al.
open ing t h e d o or t o BY TOMMY HEAD
The Candoshi people are by far the most distant group—geographically, culturally, and otherwise—that LWI Peru has ever worked with. There are two major river systems for the Candoshi people: the Chapuri and the Scwinda. The Candoshi on the Chapuri are feared, not only by their own people and those on the Scwinda, but by everyone else in the area—even government officials. The people have seen so much death that human life has little value to many of them. There are parts of the jungle where we need to work, yet we can’t get anyone to accompany us. Guides in the area won’t go past certain places on the Chapuri. Jungle pilots—some of the bravest men I know—won’t land their float planes here. As traditional “missionaries,” we would have never been accepted here. As well drillers, however, we have been granted access to this area where so many fear to tread. Here, among the Candoshi on the Chapuri, we have encountered a tremendously challenging cultural and spiritual darkness. Witch doctors rule by fear, keeping the people in bondage using the powers of what they call gods. When we first visited the area and looked into the eyes of these people, we saw sadness, fear, and an emptiness that I cannot describe. The look in those eyes testified to the true darkness only hopelessness can bring. The Candoshi are people utterly without hope. Hepatitis B has decimated their population. Today, there are fewer than 3,000 of them in the Amazon. Even though progress has been made in controlling the epidemic, almost everyone we see over the age of 19 has Hep B, and they know it is a death
sentence. No hope. And people without hope are without a doubt the most dangerous people in the world. We entered the area trying to be culturally sensitive, trying to feel them out. That was perceived as weakness, and the Candoshi can sense weakness at a glance. I was literally run out of one village. Later in the same trip, someone threatened to kill me because I wouldn’t commit to drill a well in a particular village at a specific time. At first I took the threat lightly, but our guides came to us and explained that this was serious and that we should leave. The man who threatened me had killed before. We returned later and drilled nine wells—and we plan to continue. We’ve had to change our attitude, if that’s the proper word. We had to let the Candoshi know that we serve a God who is not intimidated; therefore, neither are we. We know that there is always hope, don’t we? That’s why we are still working in Peru: we want to share the fact that “hopelessness” is not in God’s vocabulary. Jesus Christ is hope personified, and he can shine light even into the intense darkness we have encountered. Recently, we were drilling in a Candoshi village called Aguajal. At 3 a.m., we heard a great commotion. We didn’t know what was happening at the time, but we later found out that a father had strangled his three-month-old child in a drunken rage. The child was the chief’s niece, and, in this culture, you kill anyone who injures your family. The chief was away for a few days, so many villagers encouraged the father to flee. If he returned to his original village, maybe his own people could dissuade the chief from executing him. He got in his canoe and rowed away, but he came back an hour later. In this culture, it is better to die than to be thought a coward. At 6 a.m., we had our fastest well dedication ever and left the village. What happened to the man who killed his child? I truly don’t know. I have only heard of one man, a believer, who refused to take part in the revenge killings that often take place in these tribes. He is now an outcast, ostracized from his village for his refusal to participate in this retribution cycle. We believe that God can and has made a difference in situations like these. Although we aren’t sure if any of the Candoshi have accepted Christ since we started working with them, we remain hopeful. Maybe it will happen during our next drilling trip; maybe it won’t. But I do believe that it will eventually happen. That’s our prayer: we want to use well drilling, not only to improve the physical quality of life, but also to share about the love of Jesus Christ. More than the water, the Candoshi need hope. They need love. They need forgiveness. Whenever we “provide a cup of water in Jesus’ name,” we trust that these things can be restored, and that transformation can come to the lives of the Candoshi on the Chapuri.
Left: Six kids and two adults live together in this tiny, one-room shack. Two of the children are orphansâ€”their parents died from Hepatitis B, a liver disease that can be a mild condition lasting a few weeks, or a chronic illness that may lead to liver cancer. For the remote Candoshi, it often proves fatal. Below: Right after their new well was completed, this little boyâ€™s mother filled a tub with fresh, clean water for him to bathe in.
Above: Tensions were high in this community, after a father strangled his three-month-old child. LWI Peru hopes that their presence and clean water wells will be a light in the darkness for the Candoshi Indians along the Chapuri River. Far Left: Candoshi children loving the first clean water they have ever seen. Left (Top): A Candoshi mother, surrounded by relatives, holds her malnourished child. Left (Bottom): A little girl holds her baby brother.
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F RWANDA Location: Nyabugogo Site B Name: Fromina Kabihongo Before LWI Rwanda provided a well for her community, Fromina had a skin disease--something like smallpox. The water she had been using was contaminated with bacteria, which caused her skin to blister and itch. She visited the hospital many times for expensive treatments and medications. Since she had no other water source available to her, she had no choice but to re-infect herself every time she bathed. It was an expensive and unhealthy cycle. If the water made her skin react like that, imagine the problems it caused inside her body when she drank it!
Location: Giti Cylinoni Site C Name: Didas Hakizimana
Locati on: Ki ovu, M Name: asaka Judith a Nyir abagui za Judith a is 7 5 years an LWI old. B pump w efore as ins home, talled she wa n ear he s walkin round r g 4 ki trip t l o o meters g et unc nated lean, water. contam Now, s meters ihe wal to have k s only 5 access Juditha 0 to clea told u n water s that much t . she do o say, esn’t only t God, a h a h v at she e nd pra thanks ys tha Living t he w Water i l l rewa Intern rd ationa l.
Didas told us that having a good water source was saving him money. He talked about how, in previous years, he had to take his children to the hospital several times a year as a result of waterborne diseases. Now, he and his family are strong and healthy, and are able to save the money they were previously paying for hospital visits and medicines. “It seems like now God is near us, because all these good things are happening,” he said.
HELPING HAITI REBUILD BY JONATHAN WILES
The rain just kept coming. In Gonaives—the fourth-largest city in Haiti—people had been told to expect a storm, but not when it would hit,or how hard. On September 2, at about 10 p.m., Tropical Storm Hanna arrived. High winds and driving rain weren’t the worst of it. The storm surge filled the city with water in minutes. In the pitch-black of night, most of the city was caught entirely by surprise. Jeffnie Desir, 18, was nearly swept away as she tried to leave her house. “The water was to my neck, and I can’t swim,” she said. “I thought I would die. Then a man came to me and pulled me through the water to a tall house, where I climbed on the roof.” Jeffnie’s story was a common one. Thousands of people in Gonaives spent the next three days on roof tops, without food or water, and exposed to the elements. In the eastern part of the city, L’eglesia Evangelique Bethesda (Bethesda Evangelical Church) was a safe haven to many, even before the water began to pour in. As floodwater filled the city streets, 200 people clambered to the roof of the
GONAIVES WAS LIKE A SEA OF MUDDY WATER.
church. Pastor Adler Dorvilien described the scene that night. “It was like a nightmare. People were screaming all around us in the dark. We helped the ones we could see, and prayed for the rest. Then all we could do was pray.” “I was there,” said Lebon St. Jean, a 22-year-old mother of four. “The water was up to here,” she told us, indicating her shoulder. “The people in the church—they saved me, and pulled me onto the roof. I was afraid, and then I got sick.” On the roof, traumatized people huddled together against the beating rain. “We prayed and prayed,” said Pastor Adler. The water kept rushing, throwing floating debris—including cars and trucks—into the walls of the building. “The church
was shaking. We didn’t know if it would last through the night.” When dawn finally came, the extent of the damage could be seen. “The water was higher than most of the houses,” said Pastor Adler, “Gonaives was like a sea of muddy water.” The people on the roof of Bethesda Church pulled sheets of tin from the roof to shelter the most vulnerable of their number from the sun. Then they waited. Adeline, one of the church’s other pastors, took the opportunity to talk to the people. She declared that their security did
Above: In what is an all-toofamiliar sight on the streets of Gonaives, a man shovels mud from his house. Weeks after the storms passed, the people of the city are still excavating their homes. On the front of the house is painted the word avendre—”for sale.” Left: Ebert, a member of the LWI Haiti drilling crew, prepares a new pump cylinder to be installed in a broken well.
not rest in their houses or possessions, but in Jezí (“Jesus” in Creole). “I did not know Jezí, but I know him now!” Lucienne Brezil is 48 years old and a mother of five. “I was asleep when the water came. Thank God someone came and woke me, and brought me to the roof of the church. I was there for three days, and was so afraid. The thing I did not understand was how these Christians could be singing songs to God the whole time!” On the third day, after the water began to recede, people began to wade to higher ground, carrying their children over their heads. The outskirts of the city, built into the surrounding hills, had stayed relatively dry. There, communities welcomed the refugees, but food and water were already short, and they had precious little to share. Cholera and typhoid quickly became the biggest problems, as desperation drove people to drink contaminated water from the river or whatever standing pools were nearby. With most roads and bridges washed out, it took a week before relief convoys began arriving with rice and bottled water to distribute. By then it was too late for some. When the water level finally dropped, the destruction could be fully comprehended. Several feet of mud covered the city, burying cars and buildings. Thousands of houses were destroyed or damaged beyond repair, leaving tens of thousands homeless. Weeks later, death estimates continue to rise. Hanna was third in a series of four deadly storms to hit Haiti this summer. The authorities say that as many as 1,400 people were killed during the storms of 2008. Makeshift road repairs were eventually made, and Gonaives finally dried out enough for trucks and equipment to get in. The LWI Haiti team was itching to go. I had the privilege of joining the repair team as they made their first survey trip into the disaster zone and began to fix broken-down wells. During the two days we spent in Gona-
ives, we repaired six hand pumps in the newly overcrowded outskirts of the city. Every place we repaired a pump, people would come and tell us about half a dozen other pumps—“just over there, where the people have no water.” We worked with local pastors and community leaders to find the areas with the most desperate need. At the first site, the local magistrate, a fellow by the name of Jean-Baptiste, spoke to the crowd that had gathered. “Even though water almost killed us, we need it for life,” he said. “Thank God for sending these people to restore our water.” These communities had suffered in ways that I could only imagine. In one place, 19 people died after the storm while waiting for emergency supplies to arrive. At the same site, a Christian school had set up a temporary building after the original facility was destroyed by Hanna. The 400 students had no clean source of water before we arrived. At each well that was repaired, team members talked to the community about maintaining the pump, and about the importance of good hygiene practices for preventing disease. And they talked about the reason they had come. “Tomorrow you will drink water out of this well—and the day after that, and the day after that. Each day your body will be thirsty again. Jesus can give you living water—water to satisfy your soul—so that you never need to be thirsty again.”
Left: Those with possessions remaining store them on their rooftops, often setting up temporary shelters there themselves. Below: A girl enjoys a refreshing drink from a freshly-repaired well. Bottom, left to right: The LWI team prays around a pump before beginning repairs; Boys gather to watch the team at work; Many of the streets of Gonaives remain a hopeless mess; Long lines and long walks are the only way people in the city can find water.
WHAT YOU CAN DO The way that faith communities like Bethesda Evangelical Church have responded to the terrible conditions in Gonaives is an incredible testimony to the people of their city. These communities of faith desperately want to help the hurting people around them. “The thing we want most,” says Bethesda’s Pastor Adler, “is to help people, the way Jesus would. But we are suffering the same way our neighbors are. We have nothing to give.” Partnering with pastors like Adler Dorvilien to provide safe, clean water in the areas of greatest need is giving them a practical way to minister to the tremendous physical need in Gonaives—providing a cup of water in Jesus’ name. The LWI Haiti team is doing all they can to repair wells in the hardest-hit areas. With current resources, they will be able to repair 50 broken-down wells in the coming weeks. Additional funds would enable the team to complete projects on 150 sites where water is desperately short. Would you be willing to be part of this project? Visit www.water.cc/haiti, or call 1-877-594-4426.
UPDATES INDIA Since the arrival of Juneâ€™s monsoon rains, flooding has overwhelmed the Indian states of Orissa, Assam, and Bihar, killing thousands and displacing millions. In many areas, access is downright impossible, slowing the progress of various water projects being implemented by LWI India. In addition to the floods, religious persecution and anti-Christian attacks have been on the rise in Orissa and at least ten other states since the August assassination of World Hindu Council leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati. Despite evidence indicating Maoist responsibility for the assassination, several extremist Hindu militant groups blame Christians. Sharing the gospel at some well sites has become problematic because of the wide-spread persecution. Still, well projects and repairs are continuing to develop in Southwest India. A new LWI initiative is beginning in far north India, near the Nepalese border. As God makes provision, our new well and rehab programs will expand throughout different areas of the country.
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC (CAR)
This fall, LWI worked on a five-well project in Zing, a region along the eastern edge of Nigeria. Each of Zingâ€™s villages has an average population of 5,000 non-migrant inhabitants, but during the dry season, thousands of nomadic Fulanis come to settle in the villages. The population for each village can surge above 20,000 during this time since they are home to the only source of water for miles. This project was funded by LWI and The Valley Springs Presbyterian Church in California. Because of partnerships like these, many other communities like Zing will be able to experience the love of Christ and the gift of safe drinking water.
LWI has been able to do great work in CAR this year, with 65 wells and 170 rehabilitation projects completed so far. In certain areas of the country, particularly the north, violence and unrest continue to present serious security issues. Civilian populations are threatened by bandits and rebels, while conflicts in the neighboring countries of Chad, Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo have driven hundreds of thousands of refugees into CAR. Still, the LWI CAR team is continuing to work in these desperate and difficult-to-reach communities in order to bring them the gift of clean water.
THE SECRET OF JOY BY ROBIN WEEKLEY
Pastor Freeman is bent over in laughter, rocking back and forth as we sit at a completed well site, telling riddles. For all the riddles he has heard and all the ones he tells (there is quite a catalogue), he has never heard of “What’s black and white and read all over?!” He asks if it’s a zebra. I say, “Nope.” The conversation continues and some of the other staff and village members join us. Everyone is in the midst of deep-belly laughter, covered in sweat from a long day of work, and full from a meal the village prepared in thanks for the well the team just repaired. There’s now clean water coming from a well that’d been broken for years. I met Pastor Freeman when I was in Sierra Leone a couple months ago—spending time with our team, experiencing their work and seeing a little of what they see every day. Many scenes, flashed large on screen before us, look awful—and many times they are. Men suffering the effects of polio and amputees marred by the war sit, propped up, working metal all day. Children live without parents in a cement boys’ school, moving on with their lives after years spent as soldiers. Women carry heavy loads of dried fish and other goods on their heads to sell in a crammed market. The times appear hard, maybe the hardest I’ve seen. I’m reminded of the complete lack of suffering in my life. Yet, I long for something many of the people we encounter have, something they know that I don’t—a secret of sorts. Paul speaks of this secret in his first letter to the Philippians, after he has been blessed by a gift offered by a friend. “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! … I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether
well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.“ (Phil. 4:4-12) It’s the secret of deep faith in the providence and love of our Father—a faith forged through knowing both plenty and want, being brought high and being brought low. My thoughts are interrupted by Pastor Freeman leaning over, “Is it a clock?” he asks, a sincere look on his face. “Well… no,” I say, before bursting out again. I take in the landscape spreading out before me, red and scarred by the rainy season, and I have that same longing I’ve felt all week. The Freetown Port is hazy in the distance with blue-green tributaries shooting their way inwards towards the hills. I think about to the polio and amputee workers who toured me through their metal shop earlier in the day. They are proud of the work they do—employed, making beautiful things and enjoying great fellowship. They seem to be rejoicing, not because they are in need, but because they too have learned the secret of faithful contentment. It is a blessing to sense the beginnings of the secret growing in myself, the release of control, the recognition of comfort, and the trajectory of faithfulness that leads to rejoicing. “Freeman, are you ready? Do you want to know?” He just laughs. “It’s a newspaper! Black, white and r-e-a-d all over!” Confused laughter busts forth and we begin another round, this time in the truck, headed back home. COMMENTS? We’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic, or any other that you found in this issue of PIPELINE. Send us an email: email@example.com.
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