Water is a currency all of its own in arid Northern Kenya, but nomadic tribes there are also eager to receive the water of life.
Traveling through the Swari region of Northern Kenya is like stepping back through time. Here, access roads and modern buildings are nearly nonexistent. Here, mankind is small and fragile. The barking of hyenas in the evening gloom and coughing of lions before daybreak are a sharp reminder that hundreds of miles stretch between the nearest city or hospital and this unforgiving place.
The wild bush encompasses the entire horizon, only broken by lonely trains of cattle, camels and goats that are often driven by one or two youngsters in traditional tribal garb.
Here is where a tribe chief approached World Challenge workers and begged them to bring the gospel to his tribe.
A Dry and Thirsty Field
The only church in this area prior was Catholic with about 20 members, but biblical teaching was not spread to any of the nomadic tribes who did not permanently remain nearby.
World Challenge trainer Gerald traveled out to meet with several tribal leaders and preached the good news to everyone who was around. While he was there, he investigated the various issues that the local people dealt with regularly.
The most common problem was the lack of water.
Since growing anything would be difficult, if not outright impossible, without a reliable source of water, the majority of these tribes were herdsmen. They relied on camels for milk and goats or cattle for meat and income.
A well had been drilled in the area years before, but no one had shown them how to maintain it. The community felt very little ownership for it, and whenever the pump malfunctioned, they simply called the person who had facilitated the drilling to come fix it. In the meanwhile, they were constantly on the move, looking for fresh water sources.
Gerald knew they needed another well and a better facility for the water, but he also recognized that the local mentality about outside help had to be changed first.
Good News and Life-Giving Water
Over the next couple months, he worked with the tribal leaders to continue building them up in biblical knowledge but also to build local ownership of a new water project. Quite a few came to know Christ personally and began taking greater investment in improving their community.
Gerald taught lessons on sanitation and disease prevention in addition to relationship-development through training them how to all work together.
Soon, locals took over caring for their old well, learning how to repair it, hiring guards to protect the facility against misuse and appointing someone to manage water sales so that they could have the income to continue maintaining the pump. With the water available, everyone in the community asked Gerald and his church for help getting new tree seedlings.
Because of this work and the change it is already making for everyone, a group of about 50 or more local women started a church under a gigantic tree.
As the Word of God spreads and grows, Gerald and his team are preparing to dig a new well to bring more water to these people. As more nomadic tribes in the area are drawn to the transformation happening here, they too will have a chance to hear the good news and sip the water of life.