The women, most balancing heavy jugs of water on their heads while carrying one in each hand, kept walking toward their village just a few steps ahead. They moved only their eyes toward the boy, who again heralded breathlessly, “Good news!”
“Coming...pipes...tools!” he stammered, still trying to catch his breath from tearing through the bush. The women quickened their pace, hurrying to set their water down and see what the boy had joyously reported.
As their eyes verified his story and the truth dawned on them, they began to speak in excited, sing-song tones, until their volume rose to an exuberant chatter, then an all out celebration.
Some danced around, unable to contain their joy. Others wiped tears, and still others stood staring with their mouths open in disbelief. They’d never seen such a beautiful sight!
Women in Lukulu carry a heavy jug of water from the Zambezi River.
The water from the Zambezi, where many people bathe, is disease-risen and filthy.
But it was true. They were coming with a large load of pipes and tools. The truck labored, carving slowly over the wilderness that was turning to a tumultuous two track “path” under its tires.
ITMI partner, pastor and visionary John Jere’s journey to Lukulu West, Zambia had its challenges. He was traveling with his wife Joyce and adopted son, Peter.
On the way, near the small town of Kaoma, one of their two vehicles hit a pothole that sent the vehicle careening into a bush. No one was hurt but the vehicle would no longer run. The only place to get the needed part was back in Lusaka, where they’d come from.
After spending the night at Kaoma, the vehicle was relieved of its load and towed back to Lusaka.
John drove the other vehicle the rest of the way to the Zambezi River, where they met the drilling company, who had been hired to drill five boreholes. The final section of bad road and the overloaded vehicle meant ten hours of laborious driving- a trip that would have taken about two hours on an American road.
One of the main challenges of travel to Lukulu West is that there are no bridges that cross the Zambezi River and vehicles can only be carried on a small barge.
The challenge of crossing the Zambezi River is one reason Lukulu West is so isolated.
The Keller's field vehicle crossing the Zambezi River.
Timothy Keller and Steve Evers help jack the drillers' truck up to free it from the sand.
One vehicle got stuck in the knee deep sand on the bank and couldn’t be pushed out. The Jeres and the drillers were forced to spend a sleepless night on the mosquito infested banks of the Zambezi. The following morning, the swollen travelers managed to push the vehicle out of the deep sand.
In addition to the water wells, the ITMI team was able to deliver used clothing, and brand new “pillowcase” dresses for the little girls from an ITMI supporter.
Clothing ready to protect and comfort new owners!
The girls immediately don their new pillowcase dresses with squeals of joy.
Two elated recipients of pillowcase dresses.
After such an arduous trip, let’s just say, no one had lovely pedicured feet, but they appeared lovely to those to whom the good news of the coming clean water was carried; good news of coming development to an undeveloped area; good news of safety, cleanliness and ease.
It’s good news because not only does it bring clean water and safe haven from the predators of the river, it allows other good things better access to reach this isolated area.
A traveling preacher won’t fear disease from drinking the water.
A doctor could be called and wouldn’t feel the need to bring his wife to draw water and risk her life under crocodile attack.
Clean, nearby water could easily be the best news these people had heard in their lives.
But the real good news was still to come.
John sat on the ground with them and told them, “It wasn’t the white man who brought this good thing to you. It wasn’t John Jere who provided clean water and safety for your village. God loves you and cares for you. He wants you to have a life that honors Him.”
Following the dedication ceremony and Steve’s delivery of a gospel message, three quarters of the men present indicated a desire to begin a relationship with Jesus, and the women will likely follow suit.
After demonstrating the gospel by providing clean water access, Steve declares and explains the gospel to a whole village.
Three quarters of the men present indicated a desire to begin a relationship with Jesus.
The head of the village had already set precedent. When water flowed from the borehole, the head of the village, an avid ancestral worshipper, threw his arms in the air and said, “If you’re a God that can give us water, then I want to give you my life!”
Discipleship began immediately.
John taught them to take ownership of and care for God’s creation and good gifts by setting up well committees that will collect a small amount of money for each use to maintain it. He called them to use their blessing to bless others by sharing it with surrounding communities and sojourners.
The word “Gospel” is a derivative of “good story” or “good news.”
In Jesus’ day it was a common word, not a phrase that meant a specific thing as we use it today. It carried connotations of Isaiah 52:7 for the Jews of Jesus’ day, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news...”
It is a picture of a town or village, anxiously awaiting news from the battle front. News on which their lives hung. “Good news!” the herald shouts, and all rejoice.
As God’s people, we are the heralds, bringing good news to those who wait desperately for it, their lives hanging in the balance. We have incredible news of a great story!
The story of a God who cares when we suffer. A God who provides good things, like clean water. A God who sacrificed Himself to usher in a kingdom where suffering, thirst, disease and animal attacks are banned.
It’s a story so beautiful and good that it makes even our feet beautiful if we tell it.
And tell you did, ITMI family.
Steve Evers has advocated for and served the ITMI partners as ITMI Director since 2001. Approximately once a year, Steve visits with ITMI partners in their countries and brings stories back to encourage supporters. Steve enjoys photography and mechanics, (both hobbies that have greatly benefited ITMI partners!) Prior to becoming ITMI's Director, Steve served on the Board of Directors for 12 years. Steve lives in Arizona with his wife, Darlene.