My first month in Africa is still a kaleidoscope of images: war was just over but near enough to touch in Rwanda; we could hear the thunder of bombs as we waited with two of our children at the airport in Bujumbura, Burundi; and the roads in Uganda had craters, while stuccoed walls were sprayed with bullet scars. Yet for all the devastation the land itself was paradise. Banana trees showed off their huge blossoms even as they hung heavy with the ripening clusters of their 28 varieties. Bougainvillea was a blaze of color everywhere, coffee trees in full bloom perfumed the night air, and the jungle was an outrage of tropical fruit of every kind.
In each country the predominant and impacting sight was the women in extravagantly-patterned, boldly-colored fabric, bearing 20 liter jugs on their heads, filling the roads as they walked up to four kilometers to get water for their families, sometimes twice a day. When I walked with them I discovered the water often had no resemblance to clean and pure. The sight marked me, and Linda and I came home with the desire to bring clean water into villages. It took fourteen years before I could see that dream come to pass.
I returned in the spring of 2007 to explore the possibility of drilling wells in five villages in Kenya and Uganda. We raised finances in the States and were able to bring clean water to one region that had an orphanage, a school, and several villages. That in itself was extremely rewarding, but I learned something else.
I learned that there are underground aquifers beneath every nation on the globe. Where the land may be dying, if you drill deep enough you can find rivers flowing even under the desert. These rivers are invisible to man, and the earth suffers without their gift. “The River of God is full of water,” declares David of Judah, the prophet-king. This River of Heaven with all its abundance is also invisible to us, as we struggle in a world of lack and limitation. How do we access it? How do we partake of it and possess it? And how do we share it, releasing it for the benefit of others? That’s what my life is about.