Set Free’s annual event – Stories from Beyond the Well – was a great evening of storytelling and sharing. Throughout this week, we’ll be sharing those stories that were presented in the storybook of Set Free. We hope you enjoy!
Thirteen years ago, a man sat on his back porch. He gazed over his newly planted tomato plants as the sun set into the warm breeze blowing from the west. Sipping his lemonade, he sighed into his chair. Memories flashed back from his recent well drilling expedition to Honduras. His newly formed nonprofit had just returned from another trip but something felt unsettled.
On his first mission trip to Central America, he felt God calling him to make an impact in the world’s water crisis. He had now made several trips and drilled several wells, but it just didn’t feel right. True, the people he served certainly needed clean water. But there were also missionaries everywhere. Most of the people he met counted themselves as Christians or at the very least, had heard of Jesus. He felt God stirring again in his heart – this time to reach the unreached. Reaching the bottom of his lemonade glass, he prayed the prayer that had become all too common in recent days, “Lord, use me however you choose. Just please don’t send me to Africa.”
But as well as we all know, that’s typically not how God works. So flash forward a few months, and this same man found himself sighing into a new chair. But instead of relaxing on his back porch, he was sitting on the west coast of Africa. The afternoon air was thick around him in this war-torn country. He had never been to such a place. Thinking he had seen poverty in Central America, it was nothing compared to what he saw here.
He didn’t know what Liberia was like before the civil war, but everything he saw now was destroyed. Road were torn up, and water wells were smashed. But what pulled at his heart most of all was the lifeless glow that radiated from the eyes of the people. He could tell that the people surrounded him had lost all hope. This was never a place he wanted to go, but he knew Liberia was where God was sending him.
This was confirmed almost as soon as he met Dennis Aggrey. Dennis was a man on a mission from God but he was hitting walls at every turn. He founded the Christian Revival Church Association that trained pastors from Liberia to plant churches in Liberia. Even using local pastors, villages were shutting them out. The shared calling of reaching the unreached united Dennis, his pastors and Roland – but tribal religion runs deep. Village chiefs were often the religious leaders in the village, they wanted nothing to do with these Christian pastors. That is until these pastors offered their village the gift of clean water. Roland had found his partner in Liberia and his true calling from God. Dennis had found the answer to his prayers in a clean water partner.
Secret religious leaders or not, these village leaders still saw their people, their families, even their own children suffering from disease. They knew that a clean water source would fix this almost immediately. And the fact that it was being offered without price, only as a gift from Jesus, made it an easy decision. If their village could get their own water well, even if it involved Christian pastors, so be it. But over time, trust was built. As the drillers worked in the villages to drill the well, curiosity was naturally piqued. Why are you doing this? What do you want in return? The answer was always the same – Jesus sent me.
From there the conversation flowed naturally. They shared of God’s unending love for His people. The stories of Jesus’ healing miracles and of His ultimate sacrifice on the cross were told. They shared that just like receiving this free gift of clean water, there is nothing they have to do to earn God’s love. It is offered to all. Free. Without price. Roland saw God working through the well to change hearts. Dennis saw a much needed evangelism tool in the water wells. Both knew this was going to be a partnership that works.
Looking to the Future
The rest is history. 13 years after that first well was drilled in Liberia, Set Free has reached over 1.5 million people with clean water and the gospel of Christ. Want to read even more of the Set Free story? Check out Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, Chapter 4, Chapter 5, and Chapter 6.