It is not every day that people can witness firsthand the fruits of their prayers and donations for a project overseas. But that is exactly the position several members of a small group from Orland Park (Ill.) Christian Reformed Church found themselves in this summer.
In 2011, 14 members of a small group were studying a book that ignited global awareness. They felt a call to make a difference in God’s world. Especially convicted of the role clean water plays in the life of a community, the group decided to partner with World Renew to provide a well for a village in Malawi. They established a fund called Streams of Grace to provide for the project.
By August 2013 the well was completed. World Renew, the CRC’s relief and development agency, invited the group to travel to Malawi to witness the work being done in partnership with other agencies. Nine members of the group embarked on a 20,000-mile trip in July 2014.
“The sights, sounds, dust, and most of all, the people of Malawi, are now etched in our hearts and minds,” Sandy Waterlander said. “The people have very little and work extremely hard to provide for their families. While they don’t have much, what was striking were their smiles, waves, and friendliness. . . . Many are Christians and they love to worship God and help one another.”
The trip focused on learning more about three program partnerships World Renew has with other agencies in Malawi, but a visit to the well was a must-see.
“When we saw the well we had partnered on, it was overwhelming,” said Bill Buikema, Jr. “I expected it to be somewhat anticlimactic but it was very fulfilling to see the well and how it was being used. To see people truly thankful for this resource, and how grateful they were, was very moving.”
Waterlander noted that the group marveled at the women who walked long distances balancing large five-gallon tubs of water on their heads. A couple of men from the group gave it a try.
“I was one of the men who lifted a bucket on my head, and it was heavy and awkward,” Buikema said. “The local women who were watching laughed hysterically, since the men do not carry water. To see us try it was most amusing.”
While there were lighthearted moments, the importance of the clean water was not lost on the group.
“Seeing the well and the happiness of the women who had come to fill their containers gave us a visual confirmation of how important this clean water is,” Waterlander said.
The group is looking forward to sharing the opportunities presented by this trip.
“We saw and felt God’s presence with us and in the people we met. We need to continue to work to provide opportunities to see God’s kingdom develop and thrive,” Buikema said.