Thanks to my dear friend David Bannister, I have about a thousand photographs from Africa loaded on my computer. But there is one image – not captured on camera that is more vivid and penetrating than the high definition images that stare back at me on the screen.
While playing with a swarm of about 300 children one afternoon, a woman quietly passed by carrying empty five-gallon buckets. About 30 minutes later, she passed us again, with a bucket in each hand and one balanced perfectly on her head. Only this time, they were filled with water. Some time later the scene repeated itself as she made her way back to the community water source. Her pace was slow and steady, stopping for rest on the return trip about every 50 feet or so. At the time, I tucked that image away as we played and loved on the children. After all, I was there for the kids, right?
Days later on the first leg of a 44-hour trip home, that image came rushing to the front of my mind, pushing through all the “feel good” moments one has at the end of a short term mission trip, and I began remembering the finer details. She was pregnant – in fact, she looked to be at term. Was she collecting water for her own delivery? The community water source is not “safe” water. Her baby’s first bath had the potential to cause lethal harm. I mentally counted the five faucets inside my house and three outside that pour fresh water on demand. That’s when I finally understood what God wanted me to see. And more importantly, what he wants me to do about it.
Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:13-14
In a continent of contrasts, there is the great beauty of the Serengeti and its magnificent animals forming the backdrop of the romanticized African experience. And then there is the true African experience, found in the villages – where the people are. Where everything is scarce and the search for fresh water is a daily battle.
The image of that woman, heavy with child, carrying the burden of bad water and a life of struggle, birthed a passion in me to do something about it – combining access to clean water with the message of Living Water. When God places a dream in your heart, He is faithful to light the way. Little by little He is showing me how the dream can be fulfilled in future mission trips.
In your prayer today, take a moment to reflect on what God is speaking to you about. What dreams do you have that are God-inspired? The bigger the dream the more glory God receives. Just the first act of saying “I’m in, Lord” is sometimes all it takes to open the floodgates of opportunity.