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Community Engagement: Bringing Water and New Life

Community Engagement: Bringing Water and New Life

Eddie* was expected to build a temple. His home village was one of eight on an island in Southeast Asia that had together agreed that their community would be purely Hindu, with no churches or mosques. There, cultural norms dictated that Eddie, who earned a good living through his job on a cruise ship, establish a Hindu place of worship—and he did, spending $5,000.

But then, while cruising the Caribbean, one of Eddie’s coworkers challenged him that he was really worshiping idols. Through this coworker’s witness, Eddie became a Christian—a decision that didn’t go unnoticed in his community, especially since his wife and children soon became believers as well.

Over the next few years, Eddie’s children began consistently failing classes at school, though not due to poor performance. The village leaders were making it clear that the family was no longer wanted there, and by giving Eddie’s children failing grades, they eventually pushed this family to move to a nearby city where they could experience greater religious freedom.

After leaving his village, Eddie was discouraged from sharing his new faith with Hindus and Muslims by other believers who were afraid to do so. This is common among believers on his island. Christar worker Nate, who served there, explains, “When people come to faith, they tend to extract from their home area, not incarnate plant back where they were.” But, despite being cautioned against it, Eddie longed to reach his extended family at home and be of service in his community.

Around the time Eddie accepted Christ, Nate and his Christar coworker Liam had arrived with their families on Eddie’s island to join an intra-organizational team there. Eddies attended one of this team’s earliest trainings about evangelism, discipleship and multiplication, and he longed to learn more.

The nonprofit Nate and Liam had stated on the island provided a prime opportunity for Eddie to learn from experience. This initiative gives villagers easy access to clean water, as well as provides physical therapy to people living with disabilities—all while training local followers of Christ, who work for the nonprofit, to serve as church planters. Liam explains, “While they serve as Christ’s hands and feet through caring for people with disabilities and providing clean water, they also try to start spiritual conversations.”

In partnership with this nonprofit, Eddie and several other Hindu-background believers started reaching out to his home village. “Helping people with wheelchairs and physical therapy was a really tangible way for Eddie to communicate his heart for his village,” Nate commented.

The team also brought water to the village, piping it from a forest spring a little over a mile and a half away—a project that required eight months of effort and provided yet another opportunity to demonstrate God’s love in a practical way.

While working on these projects, Eddie intentionally gave his teammates opportunities to share their hearts and how they came to faith with his former neighbors. He sensed that several of the villagers were watching each other, waiting to see who would be brave enough to take the first step in believing. “To do it by yourself would be kind of dangerous,” Nate explains.

Evidence of transformation in the community began to emerge as the villagers considered what to do with the excess of water that they now had near their homes. Eddie challenged his former neighbors, “We did this because God showed His love to us in a very clear and very direct way. … Now you’ve been shown that love, but it’s not yours—it’s from God. And so, what would God want you to do with it?”

Through Eddie and Nate’s coaching, the villagers decided to provide two more tanks to hold overflow from the main tank, and to let people from the surrounding area come to get water there for free! Nate calls their willingness almost miraculous.

Eddie himself was transformed as well, as he grew from someone seen as a young person to one honored for providing for his fellow villagers. Liam shares, “It helped to build the respect people had for him because they saw he was looking out for them and finding ways to bring in things that met the needs of the community.”

That respect and honor established a foundation that Eddie and his family could continue building upon. Within three to four years of the nonprofit’s arrival in the village, Eddie’s father and grandmother became believers and were baptized, along with a couple of Eddie’s cousins!

Eventually, the family decided to dismantle the Hindu temple that Eddie had built with his cruise career money. In its place, they built a room for prayer, to show their relatives and neighbors that they were not forsaking the worship of God. There, they hold a regular Bible study, and thanks to the outreach of the nonprofit, more than 10 families are showing various levels of interest in the gospel! Liam hopes that this study holds the seeds of a new church plant.

In the meantime, Eddie and his fellow believers continue to visit the village regularly, where they run an English club for the kids once a week, taking many of the lessons straight from Scripture. One couple even plans to move there to minister full time. “There's no hiding who they are,” Liam says.

Community impact paves the way for heart transformation! As this village sees that Christians seek to meet their needs, Eddie and the team are praying that they’ll be drawn to the Savior whose love they have experienced.

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