RESPONDblogs: Fresh Water for Africa + a Faith Upgrade for Us

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In the 13 years that Kingfisher has been visiting Africa, I have seen firsthand the devastation that dirty water wreaks on human life. Dirty water holds every manner of disease for those with no option but to drink it. The effect on human life is sobering. Suffering – hardship – sickness – death. On the other hand – I’ve also seen the joy and the health that flourishes when a fresh water supply is made available to a community of people.

 

This year at Kingfisher Church Network – we are investing in fresh water for African communities. We are investing in LIFE. We aimed at the target of helping 13 villages in Malawi and Mozambique to find their own fresh water supply. We smashed our target – so we will be able to help many more people than originally planned. This is so exciting. But you know – the background to this project is also interesting in itself.

 

Back in 2010 – the Kingfisher National Director for Malawi – Charles Mithowa – challenged us to think about how Kingfisher could enable fresh water supplies for various remote villages where a water well did not exist. The remote community of Mulanje – close to the border with Mozambique – was one such community crying out for fresh water.

 

In my naivety – I returned back to the UK with intentions to get water wells built for the folks in Mulanje. Did I have the first idea what was involved? Beyond digging a big hole and suddenly finding fresh water at the bottom? No. Not at all. I had no experience – no information – just a heart to help.

 

That heart to help led me to seek help from charities like Pump Aid and World Vision. Both of these organizations were incredibly helpful, spending time helping me understand the issues. The long and the short of it was this. They had a schedule for building water wells in Malawi. If I wanted to get on THEIR agenda – and contribute funds – I would be sure of helping many communities in Malawi. Unfortunately – the Mulanje community did not qualify. What a shame I had rashly promised fresh water to them!! Despite my disappointment – we contributed funds towards a Water Aid water pump for Malawi. Water Aid built the pumps – people in Malawi benefited. And I resigned myself to the fact that – we had failed in getting a water well built for our friends in Mulanje. Yet I made the decision to leave the problem in God’s capable hands.

 

That was a good decision because the story was not over. The end had not yet been written.

 

While I was wrestling with NGO’s and Charities…Charles Mithowa received word that his Malawian  Government was offering a practical training course in the creation of sustainable water purification systems for remote villages. The purification system uses easily accessible materials combined together in a particular way…and the Malawi Government teach key community leaders exactly how to build this purification system themsevles. As long as these leaders were willing to pay their way (in Africa – there is NO free lunch). Charles Mithowa – a wonderful and inspirational man – jumped at the chance.

 

He galvanized Kingfisher Church into action. Kingfisher Centre in Limbe allocated a field for Maize cultivation – they grew the crop, harvested it and sold it at market to raise funds. Once the funds were raised – Charles contacted the Malawi Government and informed them he could pay his way to learn how to build water purification systems.

 

Fast forward to summer 2012. We returned to Malawi. And Charles showed us how a bucket, a car battery, a filter, some sand and some chemicals could save people’s lives. I met folks whose lives had been changed by the use of this new water purification system in their villages.

 

At this point I realized that my weaknesses and my lack of knowledge and wisdom was no barrier to God’s wisdom and his plans being worked out. My limited capabilities are clear. But God’s unlimited resources make my  lack of resources insignificant. When he plans to change lives for good – it happens one way or another. The question is – will I get on HIS agenda.

 

Mulanje got fresh water – just not thru my little plan of digging them a water well. Instead today they use a filtration system that they look after and manage.

 

And the great news is that – Kingfisher Church in Malawi is working to share this basic but life changing technology to many many more villages across Malawi and Mozambique. We in Kingfisher Church UK have the privilege of contributing funds to help make it happen.

 

So where is the response to the spiritual skeptic in this blog? I think this time it might be a bit of insight into my own journey of faith…

 

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”  Proverbs 19:21, NIV

 

What impossible goal are we facing? What dreams are in our heart?  If He wants it to happen – He will bring it about. He is not limited by our lack of wisdom or resources. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills, He cares for the flowers in the fields and His eye is on the sparrow. But He has his own timeline and His own way of bringing things about.

 

The real question is – what about me? Am I getting past my own agenda, and aligning myself with His? This is the most sensible thing to do – because in the final analysis “it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” Wouldn’t we rather be on the prevailing side, rather than on the side of our own little plans and missions in life? The things that are so important to me, yet they are here for a little while and then like an early morning mist…they are gone.

 

In my experience – in this Water project, but in many more situations besides, He is trustworthy. He is creative. And He will never let you down when you put your life in His hands.

 

Kingfisher Church is here – http://www.kingfisher.org.uk/

You can find Pump Aid here – http://www.pumpaid.org/

World Vision is here – http://www.worldvision.org.uk/

RESPONDblogs: Abortion – How Might God Feel About It?

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I was shocked yesterday to read an article published by the Independent Website, Independent Voices Page. Ann Furedi is making a case for a removal of all legislation around abortion. But her core reasoning for this change of legislation is shocking to me.

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/abortion-is-safe-and-it-should-be-as-available-as-easily-as-contraception-9808803.html

 

Ann says, “Abortion should be recognized for what it is – a safe and necessary healthcare procedure that, usually, is no more complicated than many of the minor procedures carried out in general practice….Abortion is safe and it should be available as easily as contraception for women who need it….why have a law at all?”

Abortion has become safe for the mother – it is not safe for the unborn baby by definition. Why have a law? To protect the rights of the unborn baby – that is why. Do they not get a say in all of this? Do they not have any rights?

 

The response may come – the fetus does not have the same rights as the mother. Well – I think what the Bible reveals about God’s perspective may challenge our society’s perspective.

 

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart” Jeremiah 1:5, NIV

 

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”  Psalm 139:13-14, NIV

 

I’m sorry – but God loves the mother who is in a difficult position, the woman who has suffered unspeakable trauma and finds herself pregnant. And the mother who is caught short…and wishes she could wind the clock back a few days.

He also loves that developing person.

So the case that Ann Furedi is making seems SO contrary to God’s perspective on human life…it is breathtaking.

 

How should one respond? I think our response should be marked by two attitudes:

 

1 – Forthrightly Standing Up for the Voiceless One

God does not make a distinction between fetus and baby. All he sees is a conceived person.

And yet – I am a realist. I know the pressure on GPs today. And I know that the number of children aborted each year is climbing in the West. They are the silent suffering voiceless minority. This is the holocaust of our times.

It is important that the woman’s position is heard and understood. But that developing person has needs too. Clearly their physical needs are being provided by the woman carrying them – her body’s systems are nurturing them from conception onwards. But their right for respect and value needs to come from outside. From our society and the laws and the caring organisations that adhere to them.

Yet it’s not society that determines the value of anyone – whether it be a developing baby or a young woman. That job is God’s. And he stands up for these voiceless ones.  And I think he firmly calls followers of Jesus Christ to do the same.

 

2 – Showing God’s Grace and his Forgiveness Unconditionally to EVERYONE Involved

Perhaps we have seen the way that Abortion Clinics and their staff are sometimes persecuted by aggressive folks who seem to lack discernment or empathy for the people who work at the Clinic and visit there.

I think God’s heart for everyone involved was captured by Kathy Troccoli in a song she wrote called, “A Baby’s Prayer”. The song  cuts thru all the shouting, and all the raised emotions in the Abortion Debate. It gives a small voice to that voiceless invisible child whose future is to be cut cruelly short. It touches the heart of the God who created that child in the first place.

 

But if I should die, before I wake,

I pray her soul you’ll keep.

Forgive her Lord she doesn’t know,

That you gave life to me.

 

This is the heart of it. Life is a God given gift to each of us.  Let us do what we can to nurture and support each other through that life. Whether my life is just starting in the womb, or whether you already have some decades under your belt.