Sunday, March 18, 2018

Clean Water, New Life

Bouncing on Land Cruiser seats for an hour and a half from Faradje, it seems like we’re continuously driving through a single village. There are mud huts lining both sides of the road, people walking, people riding bicycles laden with organic cargo, and motorcycles functioning as vehicles of merchandise or even multi-passenger taxis.

This is rural country, but one would expect an eventual city on this populated road serving as the single connection between the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan. Instead, Aba, our destination, is even smaller than the obscure but central town of Faradje in this remote region.

Clean Water, New Life

A cloud of smoke escaped from the borehole truck, a sign that it was ready to start work.

Although few and terrible, the roads in northeastern Congo still serve as the lifeline of commerce and communication and are much appreciated for the simple fact that they exist.

There is something else here that is also uncommon and of equal importance—clean water. We’re headed to Aba to witness the drilling of a new borehole that will renew the continual clean water supply of a historic missionary hospital.

When we arrive at the site, it’s already an excited commotion: the compressed water truck and the bore-holing truck are already positioned and gearing up for action. A crowd is assembling to watch.

Few have ever witnessed water drilling before, including myself. (However, I’m more impressed by the fact that these trucks could travel across such long and rough terrain. It took them two days to arrive.) After a detailed cleaning and oiling of the motor, the ignition turns for action, resulting in an explosive smoke cloud that lingers as proof of its success. The truck is soon positioned and sinking through the hardened topsoil in the whirling pursuit of safe and reliable water.

Providing an Opportunity for Spiritual Life

I’m not sure how long the hospital and adjacent homes had been without running water, but the old pump house, featuring a termite mound growing on an exterior wall, contains a West Berlin cast iron pump that was installed in the early 70s. It’s obvious by the rust and missing parts that it hasn’t been functioning anytime recently.

I imagine this hospital positioned on the hill used only seasonal rainwater from the roof, and in the dry season, hospital workers would carry water up the hill from a stream. Would they have boiled or filtered the water for every patient? Was there enough for daily functions? It would have taken great effort.

Clean Water, New Life

A new borehole at the hospital means that staff members will be able to focus on caring for patients rather than having to turn their attention to finding clean water.

Someone told me that pioneer missionaries built the original well here in 1952, but repairs eventually turn into replacements, and I was witnessing a full replacement. The best part is that this well is a continuous testimony of the Gospel and a lasting legacy of the original missionaries. Samaritan’s Purse often has the privilege to build upon the groundwork of many such missionaries.

Physical needs must not be separated from spiritual needs. Without physical life, one cannot have an opportunity to hear of spiritual life, and negligence of physical care will only produce a deaf ear to the Gospel. I noticed several churches in close proximity to this missionary hospital. They are likely a direct result of God’s work through these original missionaries who cared for the overall wellbeing of this population.

I envision 30 years into the future what others might say of Samaritan’s Purse and the Gospel as they see this well and the added worshippers of Jesus in this place. It’s amazing to me what can be accomplished in the Democratic Republic of the Congo despite its overwhelming lack of infrastructure.

Identifying needs and confronting them with compassionate determination can make an eternal difference. How much more amazing is it that Jesus saw our need and had compassion on us? Jesus voluntarily arrived though the most difficult road to offer us eternal life. He is the living water, the payment, and the gift.

This is why Samaritan’s Purse exists—to sustain life physically and provide opportunity so spiritual life, of sins forgiven, may also be gained.