We finally began our long awaited well project! We have a team and a system to dig wells using a modified auger provided by the good folks at Hydromissions. We went down last Thursday and stayed through Saturday. I wish I could tell you we finished our first well but alas, I can not. This is going to be a long process and that is not a bad thing.
Sam and I went down with a couple of new guys and set up the pilot project in the village of Langstrand. We have been praying about this village for over a year now. It has an interesting history. Ten years ago another team went down to this village and showed the Jesus film in the local language. There was a guy named Golasgil who operated the film projector at the old theater nearby and they hired him to show the film all over the place. After about a year he and his wife came to faith in Jesus. They started a Bible study in their house with about 20 people from the village. After a few months however, the local Mullah through a fit. He condemned them and through them out of the local mosque (please understand that this has a huge social as well as religious meaning to them). The 20 or so seekers fled and one night a group painted a big red cross on Golasgil's gate. It was meant as a threat. After that the team that had been going down to Langstrand went elsewhere and Golasgil and his wife were on their own for several years. Sam ran into them last year and now we intend that this project of bringing clean drinking water to their village will also be a way of bringing the living water there.
The ground is rocky. We struggled to get through the first six feet and when we did we hit a two foot thick gravel pack. Drat. We tried in a couple of different places but found the soil the same everywhere. So, we started pulling rocks out of the hole. It was slow going. We thought we were stopped cold several times but each time we prayed and the way was made clear again. We have gone down 45 feet in this manner and have not hit water yet. The team goes back down tomorrow to continue the work and we hope that soon fresh drinking water will be enjoyed by all.
The first day I stood up in front of 30 or so villagers and prayed a blessing for the village and for the project. Golasgil told me later that man after man came up to him and asked him if I was a Muslim because only a Muslim who really knew God could pray like that. He laughed a told them that I was a follower of Jesus. They all know that he is still a Christian and they now know that he has invited our team to share the truth there in Langstrand. That first night Golasgil looked me straight in the eye and said, 'Strider, I am glad that you guys are here and are digging the wells. But the real reason I asked you here is to share the truth about Jesus with these people. I have invited many of them to come by and talk to you guys tonight but no one has come. We have to keep praying that they will listen.' I was very moved by this poor, uneducated man's dedication to the Kingdom. The next day as we were digging the well a two year old boy fell in an irrigation canal nearby. His older brother was screaming and crying, 'He fell, he fell!'. He had fallen right near a culvert and had been swept down the two foot in diameter pipe. Golasgil ran to the spot, stuck his arm down the hole and miraculously pulled the crying young boy out! The boy was taken away, the people who were shaking a crying with fear walked off to their homes and Golasgil sat down in the shade letting his heart rate slowly return to normal. I was the only one to walk over to him and thank him for saving the boy. No one else said anything to him at all. These villagers don't like his faith in Jesus and they don't like us coming to tell them about Jesus. We have more rocks to pull than just in that hole! Still, the Boss has us there for a reason. Saturday before we came back to Minas Tirith one of the chief men opposed to us had us all over for lunch. I was very surprised. He prayed for us- or against us, I wasn't quite sure- and he chanted a Surah of the Koran for us I think to make sure we knew where he stood.
It is good to be back working in the villages again. I am excited about the new team and the work that God has for us to do in this difficult place. As we were pulling out the rocks one by one I was for a while praying that the work would get easier. As I prayed the Lord said, 'It isn't going to get easier. Will you do it anyway?' Yes, I will and gladly.