A community gives thanks to God for a water storage tank from Samaritan’s Purse.
by Robinson Masongo, sub-base manager in Kwale County, Kenya
October, 2014—The Bible in Luke 17:11-19 tells us about an experience that Jesus had with ten men who had leprosy. All of them were healed, but only one of them went back to give thanks for the healing. Jesus then asked in verse 17: “Where are the other nine?”
The questions that come to mind from this story are: why didn’t the nine go back and why did only one return?
Recently, I found myself reflecting over this story after I received a phone call from Pastor Solomon Nyamawi of Kibandaongo Church in Kwale County, Kenya. Pastor Solomon’s church is one of the churches that benefitted from a water tank constructed by Samaritan’s Purse’s water and sanitation project. Pastor Solomon invited me to a celebration to commission the water tank at the church. I honored his invitation because this was the hundredth tank and I had never received any other invitation of this kind. So I found myself asking a similar question to that of Jesus: “Why didn’t the 99 come back?”
I travelled to Kibandaongo on a Sunday morning and joined the celebration. The church was also commemorating a dark day in its history—not everyone had been happy with the presence of the church in this community as I came to learn. A female member of the church had gone to the only water pan in the community to draw water. There were many people there, it was getting dark, and everyone wanted to draw water and go back home.
“She was pushed into the water pan and almost drowned,” Pastor Solomon said.
That incident led to many members of the church avoiding going to the water pan. Since then, they have had to travel many kilometers to a water pan in a distant village to collect their water. The construction of the 10,000-liter tank was an answered prayer for this church. It has become a symbol of unity because everyone from the entire community draws water from it. It is beginning to heal wounds created by years of suspicion and rivalry.
“Those that did not want the presence of the church now see the value of the church through the water tank that has been constructed here. We invite everyone to come and drink from this water but also drink from the word of God,” said Pastor Solomon.
As I stood to deliver the sermon for that day, I understood why they were celebrating. Perhaps those that did not return may have had similar experiences but were too proud to come and give thanks, or they were overly excited to receive a water tank and forgot to give thanks for it. Could it have been the same with the nine lepers in Christ’s time? Perhaps some of them were too confused about their new look and did not know what to say. Others may have been in a hurry to go back to their homes and pay back those that ridiculed them as lepers.
Regardless, the people of Kibandaongo Church have discovered how to use their water to deepen their relationships with Christ and with their neighbors. I was challenged to continue giving thanks and to daily seek a closer relationship with Christ through everything that is done or given to me.