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Beleaguered church buoyed by water from ‘cursed’ land

WEST AFRICA (BP) — In the Bible, God demonstrates His power through water. Jesus turned water into wine and then walked on top of waves. He even compares Himself to water.

God still uses water as a conduit for miracles. Last year, He blessed a small well in the desert of West Africa.

Shadrach Black, West Africa project coordinator for the Baptist Global Response humanitarian aid organization, recounted the miracle a beleaguered church experienced when it partnered with BGR to provide its village with a fresh water source.

At the time, the pastor and congregation craved hope. “It’s difficult to endure in an area where you are not wanted and where you are mocked and scoffed,” Black said in a phone interview.

The small band of believers had suffered persecution from their surrounding community. Locals responded to the church’s message with scorn. Husbands mocked Christian wives for their faith. Black said the pastor, Adama Diallo*, did his best to encourage his congregation amid the oppression.

They believed a new well could make a difference in their bleak circumstances by improving life in the community and demonstrating the ability of the Christian God to meet needs.

The church had placed so much faith in the BGR project that its members felt overjoyed as soon as they saw the drilling equipment arrive.

“The women of the church are coming and greeting us,” Black recalled. “The pastor has tears in his eyes as we just bring in rigs … because of the hope that brought in.”

And the area desperately needed fresh water. Black described the ground in the region as sandy and insufficient for farming. There’s so little moisture that people slave to coax any vegetation from the soil. They mostly grow millet because it requires small amounts of water. People barely survive, living in mud-brick homes with thatch or tin roofing. The only significant income for villages often comes from young residents who find jobs in cities and send money back to help their communities.

Although the church was seeking to improve life for their neighbors, prejudice seemed stronger than thirst.

Instead of supporting the project, the community had given the congregation a “cursed” tract of land for the new well. Black said locals believed multiple spirits fought over that patch of dusty soil, and the supernatural struggle prevented anything from growing.

But the church decided to proceed anyway.

Supported by BGR funds, the drill team set up its equipment and began to work. Team members drilled 10 meters, then 20, and then 30. They found only dust. Finally, workers drilled 40 meters and still the well was dry. The team began the laborious task of packing up the equipment and moving it to another spot on the tract of land to try again.

The congregation began to despair, Black learned after his visit to the village. Christian women had to return home where unbelieving husbands mocked the failure. As a result, the project’s success became even more important.

“And so, the women are coming to the pastor as we’re trying to pull up the rig [and] giving these testimonies of what they’re enduring in their homes,” Black said. “And [they’re] just saying, ‘Pastor, we need this. We can’t endure without this.'”

The pastor responded by gathering these women together to pray. With renewed hope, workers began the drilling process again.

They saw signs of water before the end of the first day. On the second day, mud and water shot high in the air. God had provided!

“It was an amazing fountain of testimony to God’s power in this place,” he said. “And the celebration … of God’s provision wasn’t just one of physical relief, it was one of justification in the midst of persecution and of trial.”

While the miracle filled Diallo and the church with joy, it horrified some in the village. Their hate ran too deep. Black said one witch doctor began spreading the rumor that the well was “poisoned,” and its clear, clean water would turn anyone who drank it into a Christian.

Yet, the church didn’t mind the gossip. Their God had shown His might, and His love had flowed over them like the water from their well.

Baptist Global Response hopes to see more stories like this happen in the coming year as a result of its second annual Well Dig Dare, a six-week initiative challenging donors to raise the $1,000 needed to fund one well. Although the Well Dig Dare was slated to conclude at the end of April, BGR still encourages individuals and churches to support clean water efforts by gifts and/or prayer. Online gifts can be made at www.gobgr.org/welldigdare. Pray, meanwhile, that more drill teams will find fresh supplies of water for thirsty communities, demonstrating Christ’s love for those who have yet to experience it.

*Name changed.

    About the Author

  • Casey Watson