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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

Water for Body and Soul

Sept. 7, 2014

The need for clean water is critical across the African continent. Randy Hurst recently spoke with Africa Regional Director Greg Beggs about the work of Africa Oasis Project and its impact on missions in Africa.

Hurst: Why is a water initiative so important to the Africa region?

Beggs: Someone in Africa once said, “Water is the new gold.” Water is tied to cultures and is a great tool to enter any given society. Not only does it open the door for evangelism, but it also gives an opportunity to touch people where they are hurting. Waterborne diseases kill hundreds of thousands of people in Africa every year.

Young women are especially vulnerable to difficult circumstances because of the lack of water. They usually are the ones who have to hunt for water, so they cannot go to school. They carry heavy water containers on their heads for hours as they go to and from rivers, which are fraught with dangers, such as crocodiles and snakes. As they go about these kinds of chores, they become targets for people who want to hurt them. A village well would make life much easier, allowing them to walk quickly to the well, fill their buckets, and go to school.

Hurst: What types of wells does AOP offer?

Beggs: The type of well varies according to the need in a particular village. A shallow well involves drilling down about 20 meters or so and finding water. These wells can be drilled with rigs that are pulled by a Land Cruiser.  A deep well requires drilling about 300 meters down to the water table. Specialized drilling rigs and high-pressure pumps are needed for these jobs and can cost $30,000 or more.

In addition to drilling wells, AOP assists in developing ways to conserve water. Some areas don’t need water wells; they need catchment systems that will retain rainwater so clean water can be accessed safely.

Hurst: Why should U.S. churches consider participating in AOP?

Beggs: First, every human being deserves access to good, clean water because they are created in God’s image. The simple fact is you cannot live without water. In Africa, the electricity often goes off, but you can survive without electricity. But if your source of water is cut off or is not safe, you suffer from much more than inconvenience. You’ve got to have water to survive.

Second, AOP gives believers an entrance into people’s lives because the drilling projects are always connected with sharing the gospel. We will never go into a place for a water initiative without linking it in some way to the gospel. Even in the hardest, most gospel-resistant places in Africa, we tell people only God can supply water. Then we pray in Jesus’ name and ask Him to help us find water. When we strike water, we tell the people that God has provided drinking water for their bodies as well as spiritual water for their souls. This provides a great segue to the gospel. And even if people don’t like the message of the Cross, they like the water. They will open their village to the message of the Cross for the sake of the water.

Hurst: Does AOP drill wells anywhere besides remote villages?

Beggs: Some of our Bible school campuses in Africa are located in places where clean water is inaccessible. AOP will drill a well or install a water system so students can bathe and have clean water to drink. AOP has also assisted churches that operate group homes for at-risk children. In Africa, the opportunities to assist with water needs are virtually endless.

Hurst: How many places still need water?

Beggs: Because of the infrastructure and economic conditions in much of Africa, there is no way to get an accurate count. In almost every rural area there will be a need for water. In most cities, the water is not clean enough to drink safely.

Hurst: How have national church fellowships responded to Africa’s water needs?

Beggs:  They have really rallied around us. The changes a single well brings to a village are revolutionary, especially among unreached people groups. When a well is drilled and producing water, it automatically becomes the center of activity. These wells give local churches the opportunity to bless people’s lives and add value to believers’ witness. Providing water creates an avenue to present the gospel.

GREG BEGGS is Africa regional director for AGWM.


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