Burkina Faso Drilling Team Report
Why did four men from Northern Ireland head out to Burkina Faso to subject ourselves to Africa’s intense heat, the sweat, the dust, long hours of travel often over very rough roads, to live rough, camp and sleep under the stars?
As I reflected on this on our return to temperate weather and civilised living, my thoughts turned to what the Bible has to say. Ancient Israel was commanded (and Jesus repeated the command) “Love your neighbour as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18, St. Mark 12:31). St. John wrote, “If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?” Jesus’ words at the last judgement to those who are ‘blessed by (his) Father ‘are appropriate, “I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink” (Matthew 25:35). Many people go abroad for the sake of the vast numbers of people in need in our world. Followers of Christ have a deeper reason than others to volunteer like this. We go because we love our Lord Jesus and show our love by obedience to Him.
Vast areas of the world, especially in the tropics, are short of water. Burkina Faso, in common with many African countries, lives without rain for six months of the year and, for villages without a well, getting water means walking or cycling miles to collect it. The village where we drilled first is in an area where, before September, there were no wells. The well drilled by our team was the last of several drilled this season. The second village where we drilled had a well but needed another, not least because the next village about four kilometres away was also fetching water from their well. We drilled a well for the latter too so that there are now three wells instead of one.
It was a joy to watch the people gather at each drilling site to watch and wait for the water to appear. They were excited about it all and so were we. Our arrival with large trucks, a huge and very noisy compressor and several 4x4s was a big event for people who rarely saw white people and anything bigger than a small motor bike. We were so glad too to see the local pastors mingling with the people and sharing the gospel with them. The people were so grateful, bringing us gifts of chickens, eggs, peanuts, and, even goats. They helped too bringing sand and gravel and mixing and shovelling the concrete for the base of their pump on their new well.
We had lessons in faith. When the drill truck sank in soft ground, in getting it out the differential gearing was severely damaged. In God’s perfect timing, Dean and Ryan from Canada were still with us and were able to do a welding job which allowed the truck to travel again. But several days of drilling lost and fewer wells than we’d hoped were drilled. But we learned that the most important thing is not to achieve an expected success rate, such as drilling four or five productive wells. What God really wants is to walk with us through the times of apparent failure as when machinery is out of action, the activity grinds to a halt and spare parts are not available anywhere close or even in the country. Wherever we are and whatever our situation, God longs for our trust and confidence in Him, our willingness to bring everything that is happening in our lives to him so that he can provide and help us learn that always and in everything he will work for our good, whether that is deeper faith and a closer relationship with him, or in addition, the meeting of the particular need we have brought to him.
We did not achieve the expected four or five good wells but we did manage three, the second and third being drilled in our last three full days, two of which, were very long days indeed.
We were privileged to live and work among God’s people, the church in Burkina Faso. What a blessing it has been and what joy it brought to our hearts to meet with God’s people, pray with them on the drilling sites, and help and encourage our brothers and sisters in Christ by what he enabled us to do. We had the most wonderful “privilege of sharing in this service to the saints” (2 Corinthians 8:4).
Continue to pray that many people will join the number of God’s saints because they received as a gift water in an often dry and thirsty land.