The best drinking water I’ve ever tasted is from Kamloops, B.C. I might be biased, since that’s where I mostly grew up. Edmonton tap water is not too bad; that is what we drink now. Our house in the country has a very good well, but the water, while potable, is not that pleasant to drink, so we have been bringing in tap water from Sonya’s parents’ house in the city.
The situation in eastern Nigeria, as in many places in the majority world, is not half as good. I remember giving a ride to one woman from a rural village on her way to the city. She had with her a bottle of grey, murky, floaty-filled water and I rudely told her she could not drink from it while in my truck; she would have to drink from my water instead. I most likely offended her when I said that, but I thought I was going to be sick if I saw her take a drink of that awful stuff.
The thing about the Mambilla Plateau is that it is full of good water springs, but most of these are up in the hills, far away from where the villages are situated. That means the villagers get their water from out of the way sources that are often muddy, used for washing and to water the cattle. It does not take a medical genius to recognize that the health hazards from such a situation are many and dangerous.
One of the ministries that the Friends of the Fulbe Society is engaged in is tapping these springs and bringing the clean, fresh water down to where the people are. The leader of “Springs for Life” on this side of the pond is Mr. Bernie Lemke: architect, builder, former missionary, and – with his wife Lily – having a heart of gold.
Bernie lost his Nigerian counterpart to cancer last year, so earlier this year he and Lily travelled to Nigeria and Cameroon to find a new partner who would be able to oversee the work of building catchments for the springs. They managed to find such a man, and they figure the water projects will go ahead even better than before.
Of course, when a water source is ‘caught’ and brought down to a village, it is not just the health of the people of the village that is improved. Their whole way of living may now progress. It is usually the young girls who are tasked with fetching; often the water will be kilometers away from where they have to take it. If that distance means they have to miss school, so be it. Water is more important than school.
We know today that a young girl getting an education is one of the key factors in a community rising out of extreme poverty. Our “Springs for Life” projects are helping whole communities do just that.
Just a week or so ago one of our water projects was completed. I have seen the pictures of Bernie’s proud partner there, of the excited villagers drinking the clean water, and of my friend Pastor Aminu speaking to them on behalf of the Friends of the Fulbe. “This spring catchment has been built,” Aminu said, “by Christian people who have the love of Christ in them. Though they do not know you, they know Jesus, and He has given them this love for you that has brought this clean water right to your village.”
These Muslim people, he said, were amazed at these words, and we are praying that here, as in so many other places, the clean, fresh water brought to them will open doors in their hearts to the Living Water which God wants for them.
There is more to say about this ministry, but I will keep that for the next post.