[In the audio podcast of this service, the sermon begins at 21 min 20 secs.]
Elder Paul Soskey spoke about his experiencein Ghana.
From today’s scripture reading we hear Jesus saying, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water. Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
Christ describes living water leading to eternal life. Today I will be speaking of another kind of living water, that which is found in most areas of the undeveloped peoples of the world, and does not lead to eternal life. In fact it does lead to pain, suffering and in some cases even death.
I want to share with you my recent service trip to Ghana to help improve the health situation of remote villages in the Lake Volta and Ashanti regions. The “living” water there. is one of bacteria, viruses and parasites that live either by themselves or in host organisms in untreated surface streams, ponds and lakes where people directly get their drinking water. Even rainwater collection systems and pumped ground water can be further contaminated by poor hygiene practices and storage conditions.
One such parasite is the Guinea worm. Guinea worm eradication efforts spearheaded by the Carter Foundation in the 1990s has eliminated the condition in many of the affected countries around the world, going from hundreds of thousands of cases a year down to thousands and in some countries actually to zero. Ghana has not eliminated it completely and in fact has had a recent increase in the problem, especially in the drier northern region where dammed ponds are created to collect and store the scant rainfall.
Education to filter drinking water is a big part (slide of building) of the effort. Microscopic water bugs that host the worm larvae get ingested from unfiltered water and then can grow up to a meter long inside the human body, eventually exiting at painful burning wounds, usually on the lower limbs. Affected people often will then go back into the water to alleviate the burning sensation where the worm will then release millions of larvae to renew the cycle. The only way to remove the worms is by pulling them out which is very painful and can take weeks to fully remove, leading to lost time to work and provide for one’s family. Other ingested organisms cause diarrhea, which although less dramatic than Guinea worm, can lead to death, especially in young children.
This year I was able to return to Ghana and serve by installing water filters in villages.
John Ayayee my Ghanaian friend and colleague who I worked with in Ghana the last two years is here visiting the USA for the first time. He would like to share some thoughts at this time.
- People in need always have a great way of welcoming solutions no matter how small or big and good or bad. That is what makes them more vulnerable.
- The people of Ghana will show case their best, in most cases the best of their culture, to show appreciation for your decision to spend time to help them.
- An idea, such as the water filters, that fits the resources is all we need and sounds great towards a common solution and maintenance.
- Because we believe in one dream, here which is survival or hygiene, we will work together to achieve the desired results.
- When your solution works, when all attention has been on humanity, we make you one of our own and make you look like us!
- The reward is always in heaven but the least we can do in our community is to accept you and make you one of ours. It is really coming straight from the heart.
- After your sacrifice of time, passion, care, attention and solution, the memories you carry with you will always leave with you and leave a footprint to be remembered by generation after this cute child.
My service this year was more personal in nature as I was able to reconnect and work more closely, on a daily basis, with the Lake Volta people that I worked with last year and other villages in Bonkwaso. This year I was able to meet their families, see their villages and be welcomed into their homes to install the water filters where we knew they would directly impact the people’s health by improving their access to clean drinking water. Even though some villagers have access to hand pumped groundwater, which is free from most organisms, many do not and get their water directly from a lake, stream or pond. As we helped to install these water filters, the villagers would show their appreciation with small gifts of dried fish, fruits and gestures of true gratitude such as the man who shook my hand then kissed the back of it saying he was truly blessed to have us come and serve them.
This service was reiterated by the local district chief, Nana Bonja, whom I was able to meet again this year. We had the opportunity to talk at length on many topics including his seeking education as a young child, his strong commitment to servant leadership, trust in the Lord and asking blessings on his people. We were also able to make stronger personal ties, where last year we met as strangers, this year we became friends and by the end of our stay I have been invited back as family! I hope to continue our connection to his district with continued service activities in the years to come.
Each one of us came back with our own personal experiences. Gail, a member of our group for two years, shared her most personal take away: “I went there thinking I was going to change Ghana, when in fact it was Ghana that changed me!”
I would like to close with a quote from Oswald Chambers,
“If I am devoted solely to the cause of humanity, I will soon be exhausted and come to the point where my love will waver and stumble. But if I love Jesus Christ personally and passionately, I can serve humanity…
Oswald Chambers, My Utmost For His Highest
John and I look at our opportunities to serve, in whatever capacity, as furthering our personal journeys towards Christ. I then ask each of you: How will you continue your personal journey to Christ and where will you find Christ’s living water that will become a spring, welling up inside you?
Let us pray…
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