On my recent visit to Kenya, I was blessed to go to the Diocese of Lodwar, home of the Turkana people, to attend a blessing ceremony of a well. Lodwar is in northwestern Kenya, and the climate there is hot and extremely arid. The Turkana people are seminomadic pastoralists who travel from place to place to find water and sustenance for their animals. When we first arrived in the village and saw the local women in their beautiful traditional dress, I felt as if I had stepped into the pages of National Geographic feature story.
The Turkana women and girls have traditionally been tasked with finding and collecting water; and oftentimes, this grueling search occupies most of their time. Even when people find water, it’s not necessarily clean. When they can’t travel far enough to get to the river, young girls dig a large hole in the ground until they find water, but it’s muddy and often contaminated with waterborne diseases. That’s why our ministry partners the Society of African Missionaries and Fr. Fabian Hevi are drilling clean water wells throughout the diocese, bringing hope and life to an entire region!
As only God can orchestrate, the morning of the day we were to attend the blessing of a well in the village of Lochor, my morning Bible reading was in John 4, when Jesus encountered the Samaritan woman as she drew water. In the passage, Jesus tells the woman, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life” (John 4:13-14).
I was overwhelmed by the message of salvation that’s in this passage — and that God brought it to my attention the morning I was to witness a poor community receive access to water for the first time. Jesus has provided for the physical thirst of these villages, but also provides Living Water that gives eternal life!
Fr. Fabian agreed. He said that the gift of water gives him the platform to evangelize the Turkana people, “Until now, the Turkana did not have access to clean water that comes from the ground. Now they have the belief and they can experience that Christ truly is the Living Water, because these people have been dying of thirst, dying of waterborne diseases. Now with this clean water they will all be able to live happily and enjoy life to the full. Now the people of Lodwar understand Christ as the Living Water and they believe in him.”
In Kenya, water is changing lives on earth and for eternity!