Residents of a village in Burkina Faso experienced malaria so frequently, they considered it inevitable.
“They just accepted it as a way of life,” said Dee Dee Wint, vice president of Texas Baptist Men’s water ministry.
That changed after a Central Texas layperson connected TBM to a West African pastor, and TBM secured a grant from national Woman’s Missionary Union to provide clean water for a hard-to-reach area in central Burkina Faso.
In the process, people throughout that region—including five tribal chiefs—learned about the source of Living Water, Jesus Christ.
A woman from First Baptist Church in Smithville who works as a year-round volunteer with Samaritan’s Purse Operation Christmas Child ministry attended a missions conference in Orlando, Fla., where she met Pastor Francis Sawadogo, national prayer coordinator for Operation Christmas Child in Burkina Faso.
Seated alongside Sawadogo at a dinner table one evening, she learned that when he arrived in Keongo, a village about 50 kilometers north of Ouagadougou, Burkino Faso’s capital, he was the only Christian there. In 2014, he established Temple Evangelique Jabnel in Keongo.
She also learned his village desperately needed a water well. Since she previously had helped support a TBM well-drilling project in Panama, she asked her contacts at TBM about the possibility of drilling a well in Central Burkina Faso.
Roy Stanford at TBM researched the possibility and discovered the project could be rather costly. The Central Texas laywoman explored multiple potential ministry partners, but she encountered several dead-ends.
However, God opened a door when she attended a WMU conference where she talked with Sandy Wisdom-Martin, former executive director-treasurer with Texas WMU and now leader of the national organization.
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Wisdom-Martin told her WMU made grants for well-drilling projects available through its Pure Water Pure Love missions initiative, a global effort to provide clean water in areas where people otherwise would lack access to it.
So, TBM applied for and received a $20,000 Pure Water Pure Love grant from WMU. Together with gifts from churches and individual donors throughout Texas, the funds enabled TBM not only to commission a Burkino Faso-based company to drill a well in Keongo, but also install a solar-powered pump, pipe water to a holding tank and provide three water-distribution points for 700 people in the area.
A Mennonite missionary based on Ouagadougou, whose ministry focuses on repairing well pumps in remote villages, worked in partnership with TBM to facilitate the logistics.
Although Keongo is located just 30 miles from Ouagadougou, a city of 2.2 million, it remains largely inaccessible.
“Due to the bad roads, it takes two hours to get there, and during the rainy season, the muddy roads make it impossible to reach it,” Wint said.
Previously, people in the area around Keongo relied on a dirty pond that became a breeding ground for water-borne diseases as the nearest water source, she explained. Several months a year, the pond goes dry.
Although the first two attempts to drill for water produced no results, the drillers reached water on the third attempt at a depth of about 130 feet.
Before the well was drilled, Sawadogo visited neighboring chiefs to let them know the well was a ministry of the church, but everyone would be welcome to receive water from it.
“Almost all are Muslim,” Wint noted. “Many were afraid to pass by this village because they knew it was Christian, and they were afraid that the Spirit would jump on them. Now, they see it is safe and come for water.”
In early November, Wint and her husband, Tim, traveled to Keongo to teach basic hygiene and participate in a worship service to dedicate the water well to God’s service.
Wint taught health and hygiene classes that drew 177 participants from throughout the area around Keongo. Many from outside the village also attended the dedication service for the well, including five neighboring chiefs. Both in the classes and at the dedication, participants heard a clear presentation of the gospel.
“The well has not only helped the health of the community and the economy, but most of all provided opportunities for evangelism,” she said.
Wint—the first woman to serve as a TBM vice president—became involved in water ministry several years ago after she and her husband already had been active with TBM’s disaster relief programs.
He understood water projects thanks to his background with the Army Corps of Engineers. She saw an opportunity to teach health and hygiene, growing out of her 37 years of experience as a home economics teacher. In recent years, they have traveled to a dozen foreign countries to drill wells, install pumps, distribute water filters, teach hygiene and share the gospel.
“We share Christ by meeting physical needs,” Wint said. “Water is the most basic of needs. So, it gives us an open door. We are invited places that other people are not.”
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