Experiencing renewed joy through water –
For over fifteen years, Global Aid Network (GAiN) has committed to providing deep-capped water wells to rural villages in such countries as Benin, Tanzania and Togo. Through the Water for Life Initiative, which includes the WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) program, GAiN not only resolves to give communities access to clean water, but also develop a culture of sustainability and wellness and an understanding of the love of Jesus.
Our team encountered Pastor Fidele and a few others in the village of Adjaho Vekpa. When we asked him about the community’s local water source, he informed us that the closest reliable source of water was six kilometers away. Although there were hand dug wells nearby, they did not always produce the amount of water needed by the village. Thus, women and children in the community had to travel six km to bring home water that was collected from swamps and standing water. The water was contaminated, as it was shared with livestock and was also used for bathing and doing laundry. Water-borne illnesses would often plague people as a result of being forced to drink this polluted water.
Previously, there was strong resistance to preaching and the gospel because the community was steeped in the practices of Voodoo. Yet, even before our team arrived, God was working in the hearts and minds of the villagers. Once the well was provided, people’s hearts slowly became open to hearing the message of Jesus Christ.
However, once a well was installed, an abundance of joy was brought to the community. The availability of clean water provided them with a means of living healthier lives that were no longer burdened by lengthy travel or disease. Partnering with the local church also allowed the hope of Jesus to be shared.
The pastor related to us the feelings of many villagers: “The God that provides the water is the God we want to know about.”
Our team worked with the Assemblies of God Church in Toffo to train six members of that church on how to share their faith, and they went door-to-door in the community, proclaiming the good news of Christ. Fourteen people made a decision to follow Jesus in one day, and a new church plant of 15 people now exists in this village, led by Pastor Fidele.
“Our prayer is that this village is gained for Christ,” shared Pastor Fidele. “The work that GAiN has done in this village has already opened doors for us to come here with the Good News of Christ and that has opened the door for us to preach to people and they accept Christ.”
This is just one story of how deeply grateful we are for how God continues to use GAiN’s WFLI to transform the everyday rhythm of villages.
We also witnessed the faithfulness of the Lord through the commissioning of a second rotary rig in Benin, which is already assisting in providing even more wells to villages in the country.
Additionally, we saw God’s continued faithfulness during the Director of GAiN’s WFLI, Steve Thompson’s, trip to Tanzania this summer. Steve met with the Tanzanian government, who are key partners in the provision of water to rural communities, and together with GAiN, they started negotiations for the next MOU (Memorandum of Understanding).
During that same trip, Steve visited the three villages that are part of the Maasailand project. One village leader shared how his community had lost hope in finding clean water, as thousands of dollars had been spent searching for water in partnership with other organizations, and all attempts had failed. When the villager heard that GAiN Tanzania had found water, he dropped to his knees and cried, shaking Steve’s hand and praising God for the water that had been found. We are moved by the Lord’s work in Tanzania, especially how he has strengthened the staff working there, enabled us to form a solid relationship with the government, and provided the tangible gift of water to rural villages.
AFA (Assa Fulfulde Anji) Project
In March 2021, GAiN partnered with a foundation to bring the gospel to three unreached people groups, including the Fulfulde and Anji peoples in Northern Benin, and the Assa people in Northern Tanzania. The goal is to plant 85 churches among these three people groups, and see 4,600 unreached individuals come to know Jesus Christ as their Saviour.
Over the past four months, we have witnessed the transformative power and work of God through the AFA Project. During our team’s trip to visit ten villages in Northern Benin that belong to the Fulfulde people, we saw how the provision of clean water and church plants had changed the atmosphere and livelihood of the community.
The Fulfulde people are cattle rearers, and were a historically nomadic group. They have been hated by other people groups in the past because their animals would eat other people’s crops. As a result, the Fulfulde people became extremely isolated and were known for being distrustful of others. However, our team was told that because of both the deep-capped water well and church plants, the Fulfulde are much more welcoming to outsiders. We observed this change through the warm welcome we received from the villages, and how in one community, the children came to play with us and touch our skin. Previously, this kind of interaction would never have happened.
During a conversation with Bertin, the JESUS Film director of Northern Benin, he noted that one of the reasons that the AFA project is so successful is because it targets specific people groups.
“These groups feel valued and chosen by GAiN. Therefore, they embrace the project enthusiastically,” he said.
In addition to providing communities with a well and hygiene and sanitation training, GAiN meets with local pastors to strategize about planting churches, teach discipleship skills, show the JESUS film and mobilize door-to-door evangelism. Several new tools have also been introduced, such as showing the Walking with Jesus (WWJ) Film series to new believers.
A member of our team had the chance to speak with several pastors who have used WWJ, and all agreed that it is very well received and incredibly useful for discipleship. Bertin noted that he “sees lifestyle changes in people and families after watching the WWJ film.” The film is shown with African actors and context as well as in the people’s own language, making it extremely effective in teaching new Christians more about Jesus.
The Discipleship Training Sessions are another tool that is being used as part of the AFA project. Bertin noted that this is like a small school for pastors, and is well received by those that attend. The pastors return to their churches feeling better equipped and ready to bring their new knowledge to their church.
One pastor named Daniel Gmanou said: “I thank God for this wonderful training. Each of the topics covered are important to me and also important to the faithful of the church. I have good memories of this because spiritual growth requires good training.”
Through this project, 34 churches have been planted in unreached people groups in Benin and Tanzania, and 26,000 people have heard the gospel. GAiN is thankful for all that God is doing through WFLI and AFA, and has faith that many more unreached communities will experience the life of hope and abundance that He offers.
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