Water for a Thirsty Soul
(Note: Names of people have been changed for safety concerns)
The man pulled me aside, away from the table where a group of us had gathered to enjoy a meal together. He pulled me into a secluded area of the courtyard. He looked at me intently, and started speaking. “I have heard much talk of Jesus, and there is much I still don’t understand, but I have heard much, and I am understanding more. And I am no longer able to ignore it. What I have heard is swirling in my head. I can hardly sleep at night. I want to talk more about this. I want to learn more about this Jesus. Pray for me!”
My heart leapt for joy. This was totally unexpected. Yet why was I surprised? After all, the prophet Isaiah reminds us in chapter 55 that the Word of God is like rain falling from heaven. As the rain waters the earth and produces life-sustaining food for the eater, so it is with God’s Word. As it goes forth, it is used by the Holy Spirit to accomplish the purpose for which God has designed it. Scripture tells us that the Word of God is a powerful tool. It is useful for training in righteousness, and, by the power of the Holy Spirit, it creates faith. What a blessing it is to see God at work. And he was working in this Bagirmi man, in the corner of a humble pastor’s home, in central Chad. And I was there. Oh, joy!
His name is Muhammad (name is changed for safety concerns online). I first met him in 2005, when my family was living in a remote Chadian village. We had been gifted with a submersible water pump for the well in our yard. Powered by our solar electrical system, it would pump water into a small elevated water tower, allowing for the luxury of gravity-fed water into our home. I needed someone to help me install it. Enter Muhammad. He lives in Bousso, a large town 26 kilometers east of our village. He is a Muslim, and he works as a well technician, installing and repairing hand pumps in the region. From that day on, our relationship began to grow. In the following years, in partnership with Bethesda Lutheran Brethren Church in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, a ministry blossomed. He and I worked together, along with a local pastor and missionary, installing wells in communities that previously had very limited access to good water. Together, we’ve enjoyed seeing the relief on people’s faces as they receive a well, because they can now enjoy abundant and clean water just a few steps from their homes. No longer are they obliged to spend hours a day hiking to the nearest water source—often a dirty river—to fetch one bucket of water. No longer are they worried about their children and livestock falling into crudely dug open wells that often cave in on themselves.
Over the years, the installation of these wells has created an “open door” to share with these communities the living water that Jesus offers, that quenches spiritual thirst in the eternal sense. Through the years, we’ve sat on countless mats under the shade of countless trees, drinking countless cups of hot, sweet green tea, surrounded by the residents of these communities. There we’ve had opportunities to share our faith, to share the Gospel, to share the words of Jesus—and Muhammad has been sitting there with us on those mats, listening and observing.
Now fast forward to March 17, 2014. Muhammad had once again been faithful, working with Lutheran Brethren International Mission to install fifteen new wells. I was there with the local pastor and Marcos (missionary to the local people) and representatives from Triumph LB Church in Moorhead, Minnesota and Bethesda LB Church in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Our trip was nearing its end. We had just visited a village that had received a well, and once again we shared their joy over clean water, and once again we sat on mats under the shade of a tree and shared with them the living water that Jesus offers. Marcos told them a story about the first Adam, who had no earthly father and who introduced sin into the world. He told them how we have all inherited that sin. Then Marcos shared with them a story about the “second Adam,” Jesus, who also had no earthly father, and who took away the sin of the world. Muhammad was sitting there, listening.
Later that evening, we were sitting around a table at the home of the local pastor. Marcos and Muhammad were sitting together and he asked Marcos to explain to him more about what it meant that Jesus had no earthly father, and how he was related to Adam. Muhammad said he knew of Adam, the first man, and he knew of the man and prophet named Isa (Jesus) from his learning as a Muslim, but he had never heard how Adam’s fall into sin enslaved all mankind, and how Jesus’ righteousness and sacrifice freed all mankind from sin. So Marcos and Muhammad talked and he heard more about Jesus, and the water that gives abundant life started soaking in.
Later, he pulled me aside and told me of the impact that the living water of God was having on his parched soul. He said: “Pray for me!” And so now I ask you: “Pray for him!”
Dan serves as Mission Mobilizer and Recruiter for Lutheran Brethren International Mission (Last name removed online for privacy concerns).