According to Dr. Tom Armiger, CEO of World Hope International, World Hope is completing its 800th deep-drilled water well in Africa in September, 2012. This incredible accomplishment is providing clean, disease-free water for nearly 600,000 people. These are people in difficult locations who had no potable water or had to walk hours to get it. World Hope personnel received many requests for wells for each one that they could respond to. In some cases bridges had to be built just to get the deep drilling equipment to the locations. And wonderfully, the living water of the gospel came along with the drilling teams and with the dedication of the wells.
For the last eight years, World Hope has averaged a brand new well for 500-1000 people every 3-4 days. And they are doing it at a cost of only about $10 per person. What does it mean to people in Liberia or in Sierra Leone, in Mozambique or in Zambia to have access to wonderful, clean, disease-free water every day?
Karwyn Bursma, from Daybreak Community [Wesleyan] Church in Hudsonville, MI, can help us understand. Karwyn was part of a Daybreak church team to Zambia this year to observe a well being drilled and to check on a community where they had sponsored a well five years before. This provided a “before-and-after” look that was shocking in its contrast. For days they prayed earnestly that they would strike water while they were there. In Karwyn’s own words:
“The most beautiful plume of clear water shot up from the ground just as the sun was setting. We witnessed a true blessing from God. The head man from the village took the first drink as women danced and sang praises. This is a moment I will remember all of my days. The next day, we traveled to the village of Maambo, which received their well five years before. It was amazing to see how healthy the people were, how clean their clothes were, and how prosperous the village had become. All from having something as simple as clean water available to them without having to walk two hours one way to get it. What struck me the most was the brightness of their eyes, the whiteness of their teeth, and the smiles on their faces. It was such a dramatic difference from the previous village. They told me there was a much smaller incidence of all kinds of diseases, that the children were healthier. Praise God!”
One person who saw more than just a few wells “come in” was Larry Marshall, former Wesleyan missionary and World Hope worker. Larry was once traveling in Mozambique while working on a World Hope livestock project. He came to a village where there was a long line of mostly children stretching for nearly a half mile, all waiting for hours in the heat and dust with their water containers, and then facing the burden of carrying the heavy loads long distances. The expressions on their faces so broke his heart, that Larry began drilling wells for World Hope, and spent several precious years drilling wells in Africa. He always used the well-drilling as a wonderful opportunity to share the gospel with the people. Some of those same villages now have Christian communities in them as a result.
Larry's life ended as a result of a tragic well-drilling accident in South Dakota, but his widow, Cindy Marshall, returned to Africa and has been overseeing well-drilling in Liberia for the last 18-months. Larry and Cindy Marshall contributed greatly to many of the 800 wells by their sacrificial labor.
World Hope is to be congratulated for continuing the Marshall legacy, and Wesleyans who are partnering with World Hope International as our humanitarian ministry partner should be encouraged.
(Photos show Cindy and Larry Marshall, and a water source before a new well was made available. )