In the Gospel of John, Jesus cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink” (John 7:37). “Thirst” and “water” were two prominent themes in our mission trip to Kenya this past summer. 정길표 집사님and I had the privilege to minister to the people in Kenya, more specifically to the indigenous people of Turkana.
Based on information from Share International, a missions organization devoted to work in Turkana, Turkanaland is a dry desert region located in northwestern Kenya. Comprising an area of over 24,000 sq mi, it is home to over 500,000 people. Most of these people belong to the nomadic Turkana tribe. Their livelihood is extremely dependent on all aspects of their environment. Livestock is an extremely important resource as it provides food and wealth. The land is barren and nearly inhospitable. Famine and drought are prevalent. Disease wreaks havoc on the people.
Many people in the Turkana tribe still adhere to their traditional centuries-old religion. Witchdoctors hold a powerful influence over the people. In the midst of this chaos, Jesus Christ is redeeming the Turkana people.
We were tasked to preach God’s Word at the local churches as well as at several tribal villages within the region. One particular village we visited was a village called “bones”. The land there is literally bone dry and hence, their village is appropriately named “bones”. Nearly all of the Turkana people are living in extreme hard conditions with no water.
In Turkana, water is life. There is no other place that I’ve visited on this earth where this truth is more evident. During our drives from village to village, we travelled through treacherous roads, roads that were barren, empty and dry. But on one of these journeys, we came across something on the side of a road that took our breath away. In the middle of this dry and barren desert, we saw such a flurry of activity, with scores of people and animals gathered around. There was life here and the reason for that was water!
The Kenyan government had built a bore well deep into the earth and from this well flowed rivers of refreshing and clean water! What a sight that was. This water from the well brought life to the people. The flowing waters brought life to this dry barren wasteland. What a stark visual reminder of the life that Jesus brings through His living water.
Jesus says in John, “whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water”. (John 7:38). For those who believe in Jesus Christ, this living water will flow from their hearts. Yes, the water that flowed from the well in the middle of the desert brought life to that region. How much greater is the life that Jesus brings through His “living water”? Jesus’ water gives life! A life of hope, purpose, meaning , fulfillment, joy and true satisfaction. Let’s thank God for the life giving water that His Son, Jesus Christ gives to all who believe in Him.
Through the Gospel message, many in Turkana are coming to a saving faith in Jesus Christ and experiencing this very living water in their lives. They are discovering the joy of a life lived in Christ and leaving behind their sinful past. Our Heavenly Father is providing for their needs and giving comfort. Praise God indeed!
One of the highlights of this mission for me was the opportunity to preach at a United Nations refugee camp located in a city called Kakuma. This refugee camp housed over 180,000 refugees from the Republic of Congo, Sudan, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Ethiopia and Somalia. To these foreigners and non-citizens of Kenya, God spoke an encouraging Word reminding that we are all sojourners, that this earthly world is not our home, and that our true citizenship is in heaven through Christ.
I pray that through faith in Christ, our lives will reflect this truth, that our true home is not of this earth, but rather from above. I pray that this truth will dictate our lives, in how we set our priorities, and in how we come to make decisions and choices in this world. I pray that our hearts would flow “rivers of living water” and be a testament to those in this world of the living water that comes from Christ. As Isaiah 12:3 says, “With joy, you will draw water from the wells of salvation”. Let’s pray for the salvation of the people who live in Turkana and Kenya, that as they search for living water every day, they would find the true living water from Jesus Christ and never thirst again.
Soli Deo Gloria!