In a Kenyan village, Maranatha’s water project is helping to transform lives for God’s kingdom.
Published on: 07-15-2022
This is the fifth article in a series by Adventist Review news correspondent Marcos Paseggi on the Maranatha volunteer project at Kajiado Adventist School in Kajiado, Kenya. The project included several other initiatives across the country.—Enno Müller, news editor, Adventist Review
In a hotel near the town of Kajiado, Kenya, the latest team of Maranatha Volunteers International participants is having a special prayer session on July 3, 2022. A couple of hours west, in the isolated town of Tinga, a Maranatha crew is drilling down, foot after foot, in search of water. Maranatha volunteers, made up of North American Adventist students and professionals ages 10 to 83, have captured the importance of the moment.
“Finding water is essential to support the church-growing initiatives in the area,” a Maranatha leader explains.
The main issue, he adds, is not only to find some water — surveys have reported that there is indeed a chance there is water under the surface — but also that the water is good enough for human consumption.
“Tinga is in the Lake Magadi area,” Maranatha leaders explain. “It is a very salty area. In fact, trains loaded with salt depart every day from Lake Magadi to other regions of Kenya and beyond.”
For people in need of water, this is a problem. Tinga’s other water wells have produced salty water. For the local Adventist church to thrive, volunteers pray to God that the drilling crew can find water that is not salty.
God Answers Prayer
On July 5, Maranatha volunteers get the good news. The drilling crew has hit water at 84 meters (275 feet) below the surface. And the trickle of water being pumped out is not salty! The drilling crew was prepared to drill down all the way to 120 meters (394 feet), but God answered their prayer before they imagined.
Tinga might be an isolated village, but it’s not a place chosen at random. When Maranatha arrived in Kenya in 2018, crews built the first steel One Day Church building structure on a plot of land in Tinga. The plot, donated by a Kenyan Adventist businessman, is strategically located by the main road.
Since then, church members have managed to collect the funds to finish the walls with blocks and add chairs and a podium. With a water well, it is expected the place will become a hub for the town’s church members and their neighbors. And now church leaders are dreaming of an Adventist school in the area.
Celebrating God’s Presence
On July 6, Maranatha volunteers arrived in Tinga to celebrate God’s goodness and participate in the official opening of the water well. The medical professionals in the team also expect to offer a free medical clinic to area residents.
As the buses carrying the Maranatha’s volunteers arrive in Tinga, the local Adventist church choir comes dancing and singing to welcome the visitors. In a parched land, there’s nothing like the prospect of fresh abundant water!
The event is also a witnessing opportunity to town residents. “Jesus is coming, He is coming soon,” the Tinga Adventist church choir sings during the water well’s official opening ceremony.
The Maranatha drilling rig sits by the new well, a day after the drilling team hit fresh water at 84 meters (220 feet). [Photo: Marcos Paseggi, Adventist Review] Members of the Maasai community walking to the inauguration of a new water well in Tinga, Kenya. Unlike nearby water wells that produce salty water, this one has fresh drinking water, which Maranatha leaders believe is a miracle from God. [Photo: Marcos Paseggi, Adventist Review] A Maasai man drags a goat given by the Tinga community to Maranatha as a thank-you gift for the new water well. [Photo: Marcos Paseggi, Adventist Review]Maranatha executive vice-president Kenneth Weiss (left) chats with Adventist businessman Charles Wainaina. The Wainaina family purchased and donated the plot of land where the Tinga Adventist church and the new water well now stand. [Photo: Marcos Paseggi, Adventist Review]
Then the moment of truth arrives, as the drilling rig begins to prime the pump at the bottom of the well. After a few tense minutes, the moment comes when the fresh, drinkable water starts spurting as it bursts out from the depths of the earth.
There is more singing, more dancing now, and loud exclamations of joy. God has not failed the people of Tinga. Once more, He has come through, Maranatha leaders say.
“It happens all the time,” Ron Kedas, Maranatha’s country director in Kenya, says. “We arrive in a village in search of water, and we pray. Other water wells in the area deliver salty water, or scarce water, or no water at all. But then God comes through and provides abundant, fresh drinking water. This is not Maranatha’s doing. This is God in action!” he adds.
Focus on Physical Health
After the celebration, the medical team spends the rest of the day caring for the physical health of the people of Tinga. Under an open tent, residents wait for hours in the hope of seeing a professional and getting advice and medication for their ailments. These are people with no regular access to medical care. For many of them, it is their first check-up.
“There are women walking around with unbelievable high blood pressure markers,” a Maranatha volunteer comments. “Somehow, God has preserved their life to this moment, and we want to help them, so they learn to live happier and healthier.”
Other health problems result from chronic dehydration, something that, Maranatha leaders hope, will change now that residents will have access to abundant, free fresh water.
The Light of God Has Shone
Less than a hundred yards (90 meters) behind the Adventist church building and the newly inaugurated well, several impoverished Adventist members live. Their incredibly tiny circular huts are made with branches, plastered with a mixture of water, mud, and cow dung. Inside, the five-foot-tall (1.5-meter) structures include a tiny cooking corner on the dirt floor and a couple of cot beds. Outside, a few goats inside a fence made of thorny branches are their only material possessions.
It is an unusually dark, smoky place, which highlights those members’ daily plight just to survive in an area where life expectancy is often around 45.
“I promise I will never complain again about my daily inconveniences,” a Maranatha volunteer comments, chastised and shocked by what she is witnessing.
A group of community women and Adventist church members chat on inauguration day for the new Tinga water well, on July 6, 2022. [Photo: Marcos Paseggi, Adventist Review] Residents of Tinga and surrounding communities wait to be seen by a health professional at the Maranatha-sponsored pop-up clinic on July 6, 2022. Some of them walked for hours to reach the advertised place. [Photo: Marcos Paseggi, Adventist Review]Two Maranatha volunteers enjoy a playful moment with one of Tinga’s young residents. Volunteers used jump ropes to teach about the importance of physical exercise. [Photo: Marcos Paseggi, Adventist Review]Maranatha executive vice-president Kenneth Weiss (holding a wrench) helps set a pipe in place as the water-drilling crew gives the finishing touches to the new water well in the isolated village of Tinga. The well is next to the Adventist church, and members hope that a school will eventually follow. [Photo: Marcos Paseggi, Adventist Review]
At the hut’s doorless entrance, Maranatha volunteers are welcomed by an Adventist woman who shows them around. Only two volunteers at a time can come in to check the family living quarters.
“So, you sleep here and your children in the other bed?” a volunteer asks the woman as the volunteer points out to the two cots, barely four feet (just over one meter) from each other inside the hut.
“No,” the woman replies. “We have accepted Jesus and the light of God has shone.”
Before the volunteer can question whether the woman understood what she was asking her, the Maasai Adventist woman continues.
“Now, this is just for the children. Now that God is here, it is one husband, one wife, and in a different hut!”
Thanks to committed Adventist donors, Maranatha keeps reaching the most isolated places, transforming and building up people with the light of God and His Word. The recipe is simple: a set of custom-made steel beams, a few hundred cement blocks, and pure, fresh, abundant water.