This article was originally published in the October 2016 edition of ITMI Monthly.
It was a discovery that surprised me. There just isn’t that much space west of the Zambezi River in Zambia. There aren’t that many people there.
Yes, there are several hundred thousand villagers spread out amongst plethora of small villages that dot the desolate land mass wedged between the river and the Angola border.
But still, they all pretty much live the same, eat the same and display many of the same beautiful physical features.
The people display many of the same beautiful physical features.
People in the villages live similarly - in grass or mud huts.
And yet they don’t speak the same language.
So many villages and so many heart languages.
We came across the realization and challenge last month. In partnership with our new and valued partners, Johan and Lesley Leach, ITMI had just finished 5 new boreholes (water wells) in 5 isolated and impoverished villages west of the river.
A village watches as clean, safe water is made accessible for them!
ITMI's Johan Leach with one of the new boreholes.
Our main purpose is much bigger than giving these villagers “easy” access to water.
I quote “easy” because for these mostly forgotten villagers, “easy” is waking in the morning, walking across the sandy village soil with water container in hand, to reach the borehole where “all” they have to do is pump a large metal handle to extract clean water from the ground.
If that’s “easy” what is hard?
Hard is hiking - sometimes miles - to the river each day, dodging crocodiles to fill their large container with the day’s water, then lugging gallons of water back to their mud hut in the punishing Zambian sun.
The hike to gather water can be long with something heavy on your head!
If you are too far from the river, hard is digging a small hole in a swampy area and then extracting the dirty water that slowly seeps into the mud hole.
Your work will undoubtedly be appreciated by local animals, who will not have the manners to refrain from making “deposits” into your drinking water.
Dirty, dung-filled water hole, used by villagers too far from the river for drinking and cooking.
You said the main purpose isn’t their comfort and ease, so, what is?
Water bore holes are one of the very best ways of meeting physical needs sustainably. That’s important. But our purpose is bigger than that. We also want to meet spiritual needs.
Johan Leach shares Jesus with villagers.
Johan planting Gospel seeds.
Johan teaches the village about the God who provided clean, safe water for them!
In addition to their new borehole, the village leader receives a black box the size of a loaf of bread. The box has a few buttons, a small solar charging panel and a speaker that will clearly broadcast the New Testament in audio format for all the villagers to hear.
Since they have no technology of any kind, the villagers are excited to sit and listen to the Bible being spoken to them by this special box. Since most have no ability to read, these villagers gather and process information on an “audio” level.
Studies show that auditory-based cultures have an uncanny ability to capture and retain information that is heard, even just once.
Our challenge was to get the audio Bible box in the right language in time for me to deliver them when I visit Johan and the 5 villages next month.
I’m reminded that unless we - who are so blessed to be born where we were born, live where we live and worship where we worship - share the blessings of God’s Word with the many who don’t yet experience them, there’s a chance they never will.
Please will you pray with me as Johan and I and a few of his trained leaders, travel to each of these villages in early October, live among the villagers, camp in tents, cook by campfire and dedicate the bore holes to God as we share the good news of Jesus Christ.
Our vision: that the shores of the Zambezi would be dotted by devoted followers of Jesus!
Our camp West of the Zambezi River a couple years ago.
In His Service,
About the Author
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 4 years. Steve lives in Arizona with his wife, Darlene.