This article was originally published in the November 2016 edition of ITMI Monthly.
The Unimog-style truck was a necessity. ITMI partner, Johan Leach’s four wheel drive Toyota just couldn’t handle the task of taking us deep into the bush west of the town of Chavuma, Zambia.
Between the roads and our unique cargo - multiple weighty bales of used clothing, 120 pound bags of maize, all our camping equipment, water tools for clearing the “road” and handmade linens for the usually forgotten villagers - Johan and I needed something heavy-duty for this trip.
A rented Unimog-style truck was necessary to get Johan and I to the villages with all our cargo.
The rains had started in western Zambia. Heavy rain mixed with deep sand made crossing this terrain more miracle than possibility. The oxen-cart tracks in deep, soft sand on the west side of the Zambezi River were now degraded to 12-18 inch ruts.
Add to that the intersecting mud pits with varying levels of murky and stagnant water, and you have a recipe for ministry travel disaster. But nonetheless, Johan Leach and I set out to visit and dedicate the five new water wells just completed last month in the remotest of remote villages in far western Zambia.
The villagers didn’t believe they would get a water well. They wouldn’t allow themselves to. Their hopes had been dashed by broken promise after broken promise in the past.
For generations they’ve been promised infrastructure, roads and wells. But politician after politician has “forgotten” their promises and these villages were still without clean, safe water.
The abusive trails have about destroyed Johan’s four-wheel drive Toyota. On the outside, it still looks nice.But Johan opened the hood and showed me where the uni-body frame is cracking and splitting from the suspension shock towers down toward the wheels.
A mechanic made Johan use a tow strap to ratchet his battery into place. He thought it likely that the battery would drop from the engine compartment. It would fall in front of the front left wheel and surely cause a disastrous loss of control putting lives in danger.
Yet Johan continues to zip-tie and wire his vehicle together so he can continue to evangelize and disciple these forgotten Zambian villagers.
Johan's field vehicle is zip-tied together after enduring the abusive trails west of the river.
Johan nursed the rapidly disintegrating field vehicle back and forth between these five privileged villages during the weeks before the drill rig arrived, working logistics, and communicating with villagers.
Seeing small village children, barely big enough to reach the water well’s pump handle, raise and lower the handle to bring clean, clear and refreshing water to the surface was a joy that has to be seen to be comprehended.
They joyfully grab the “village” cup from its place on the flat top of the pump and fill it with fresh cool water. They gulp it down - something most had probably never done before because water was so limited.
Seeing small village children bring clean, clear and refreshing water to the surface was a joy that has to be seen to be comprehended.
A new well in one of the 5 remote villages.
They are so happy to have access to clean, safe water!
The water was so clean, I was able to drink all I wanted straight from the well myself. It’s cool, fresh, sweet tasting refreshment was worth all the challenges and difficulties we have had finding a quality partner and driller in this remote part of Zambia.
We dedicated these wells in each village by sharing how much God loves them. They matter to God so much, He spoke to His children all the way across the ocean and led them to provide funds for a village of people that they may never meet face to face. These villagers learned through your help and obedience that there is a good God that hears and sees their cries.
He is powerful enough to orchestrate all the logistics and unsurmountable costs to give them water.
We have now earned a place around their campfires and been invited to tell them about this God we love and serve. Please pray for Johan, Pastor Davy and Pastor Colin as they continue to teach and disciple in this area. Pray for God’s guidance as they seek which villages will receive clean, safe water and the Gospel next.
Villagers listen to Johan sharing the gospel with them.
Johan shares Jesus with the villagers.
We have now earned a place around their campfires and been invited to tell them about this God we love and serve.
We are not ready just yet, but I would really like to help Johan get a vehicle that won’t leave him stranded in a place where he might be forced to hike for days to get home.
We are so grateful for all our ITMI partners who help us empower the national leaders to reach their people for Christ.
We wish you could see firsthand what your sacrificial giving does to the lives and ministries of these worthy servants of God. We know many of you faithfully give each month to whatever project God leads you to partner with.
If, by some chance, as the year comes to a close, you might have a bit over and above your normal giving to help ITMI and our projects, we would be most grateful. We commit to being faithful stewards of God’s gracious provision of funds and help.
Your prayers are always the very most important gift you can give, and we know they are with us as we press on to the front line of the battle for the hearts and souls of those that don’t know God’s redemption and love.
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.