Many stories in the Bible involve a water hole. This is the place where Jacob met his future wife, Rachel. Joseph’s saving of the people of Israel started at a well. Then we have the story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman who also met at a water hole. Through a number of events I experienced how Jesus also met some people at a water hole. The group of students from Canada had worked on a small spring where members of a certain community in Swaziland were fetching their water from for daily use. Through their efforts they were able to help the people to get much cleaner water than they had in the past. Word spread of their work and another community approached us for help. But this situation was totally different and we realised that it would take a much greater effort to enable them to get clean water. I asked that we meet the community members on Thursday morning to discuss a possible solution with them. When I arrived with the team of Canadians at the water hole, people from all over were coming closer. I then explained to them how important it was that they have clean drinking water. With HIV breaking down so many people’s immune system, unhygienic drinking water could very easily lead to diarrhoea and even death. One old man confirmed that what I was saying is the truth.
I then said to them that the young people from Canada were willing to assist them with a way to get clean water, but that they were unable to do all the work necessary in the two available days. If the community members were willing to assist in digging a large hole, carrying stones and doing other work, we would help them to carry out the plan to get clean water. They agreed. But there was one problem: We needed river sand – lots of it – for our plan to work. And we had no way to get the sand to that particular place. This was interesting to watch, as the students were making all kinds of plans to get the sand there and I was waiting for the community members to make a plan. First of all they said that they had no way to get river sand there. I responded that we would then not be able to make our plan work. They talked to each other and then asked how many wheelbarrows of river sand we needed. We told them that 20 wheelbarrows would be enough. The women then agreed to take wheelbarrows to a nearby river and to bring the sand in wheelbarrows. Shortly afterwards the people stood up, some to get spades, others to get wheelbarrows and the work started.
Due to other responsibilities I could not go the water hole on Friday or Saturday, but I went there today. The plan seemed to work. They now have fairly clean drinking water for the community and I was informed that they want to make an appointment to see me to show their appreciation for what the students did.
But the most amazing thing happened when I went to church today. A young man was sitting there whom I had never seen before. Afterwards he came to me, introduced himself and said that he was one of the people from that community who gets his drinking water from the water hole. And he came to church today to see the students who had done this work for them.
And I realised: If those Canadian students had been the hands and feet of Christ for that community, then, without even saying a word, the members of the community had experienced that Jesus had met them at the water hole. This water hole may become the way in which Christ could become a reality to them.