I’ve always believed there were two critical components, or “magic bullets” if you will, to the unique success of The Last Well in Liberia.
The first is the unabashed marrying of the water provision and the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Physical and Spiritual water. The second is the quite frankly ridiculous decision to lay out as our mandate the goal to reach the entire nation, every person, every hut, every village border to border with water and the Gospel by 2020. Not “Aid”. Not even 99%. 100%. Something rarely contemplated, even more rarely stated as a goal, and NEVER accomplished in the 3rd world in all of history. I don’t think people realize how truly impossible such a thing is, at least from an earthly perspective. Until I began spending time in Liberia I know I didn’t.
I’d like to share with you a story of provision that helps explain what I mean by “impossible from an earthly perspective” but which is rather easy from a divine one. Do you know why no ever goes for 100%? I’ve learned it’s because the last 10% to 20% is HARD! Actually it’s often impossible from a technological, cultural, educational or funding perspective.
To be brutally honest 18 months ago, some 6 years into our ministry efforts to get to 100% by 2020, we had no way to reach the last 15% and no ideas on the horizon for that matter.
Then last year we learned about Sawyer Water filters through one of our smaller ministry partners, God Water. They had been purchasing them and deploying them in small batches (think dozens) to remote areas. These amazing filters can be purchased at your local REI store and used while camping to purify swamp water. We realized they could be a perfect solution for much of the most difficult 15%.
So our founder and chairman Todd Phillips set out to get in touch with the owner of Sawyer Water filters to see if we could partner with them in our efforts and perhaps get a significant discount on the ones we purchased. The guys from God Water said “forget about it”. The told Todd they had been trying for 2 ½ years to get a meeting with the owner at his headquarters in Florida to no avail. Upon hearing this Todd, in what can only be in a fit of seizure by the Spirit of God told them “We are going to start praying and not only are we going to meet with him but we are going to get all of the filters we could ever need from him and on top of that we are going to get them for free!”
Sounds a bit, shall we say “unrealistic”? If you went to “delusional” I can’t fault you. So they set about praying their keister’s off.
3 weeks later Kurt, the owner of Sawyer Water filters, walked into his good friend Art Dykstra’s office in Florida, and informed him that he wanted to use his company and his filters in an enormous way to help the least of these, share the Gospel of Jesus and glorify God through this. Art, who is the Missions Pastor at Kurt’s church thought that was fantastic but informed him that none of his organizations could deploy the filters on the scale that he was seeking. He sat there thinking and said “You know something Kurt? I’ve heard about something this old friend of mine, Todd Phillips has been up to. I haven’t spoken to him in about 15 years but I heard about this ministry called The Last Well he heads and his organization might be able to do what you are looking for. Let me give him a call”.
I’ll pause for a moment to let you pick your jaw up off the ground. I’ll bet you can guess where this is going! Todd and Kurt got together and as a result I am writing you this story from Liberia where I and my crew have just finished moving and storing some 60,000 Sawyer Water filters and about 50,000 buckets for their use. We have already deployed around 40,000 of them this year and the remainder will go out by years end. 100,000 filters at $30 a pop. You know what is next. Yes those 3 million worth of filters came to The Last Well for free!!!!
So what does all of this mean in practical terms? Each one of these filters on average serves a family of 6. And we know that each year roughly 5% of people in Liberia who lack access to clean water die from preventable water borne illnesses, primarily children under the age of 15. That means that each year going forward some 30,000 Liberians each year will see their next birthday who otherwise wouldn’t. And each one of them will hear the Gospel of Christ and see in a real practical way that there is a God and that He loves them.
These incredible filters have a 1 million gallon life span so if used properly they should last about 15 years! We make no less than 3 visits to each family that gets these filters to give them repeated training and to ensure that they are using them properly.
So that is why I haven’t been doing any real estate business for the last 2 weeks!
I’m not sure where you are or what you are thinking as you read this post. Perhaps it’s a Friday morning and you are imagining what it would be like if your own kids were exposed to these types of risks. Perhaps this story has helped you realize there is a God and He is at work in our lives and maybe you’d like to play a part in literally transforming lives. If so would you prayerfully consider going to our site www.TheLastWell.org and sponsor a village for $79. Or two.
It’s a good life.
p.s. Please feel free to share or repost this if you like.