Posted by: calloftheandes | October 14, 2010

Missionaries Tell How Faith Blossoms Amid Clean Water Project

Tucked inside the slick pages and glossy photos of the book, Zealous Love, are distressing details of dirty water, disease and unsettling accounts of human trafficking, refugees and other global challenges.
The book’s editors, Mike and Danae Yankoski, offer startling statistics of seemingly intractable problems, such as:

• 12.3 million people are still enslaved today.
• In the developing world, 1.1 billion people lack access to safe drinking water.
• Over 14,000 child deaths per day due to hunger-related issues.

The Yankoskis have personally witnessed some of these unsettling realities. For example, they probed people’s water needs in Uganda. In Ecuador, they investigated water needs and observed solutions offered by HCJB Global Hands. Their book unstintingly urges faith-in-action answers, and casts aside guilt as an inadequate motivator.

“Like a college student surviving on too much caffeine and not enough sleep,” the Yankoskis write, “a guilty Christian will eventually crash. Instead, we’re after something healthier and more sustainable — something we can live.”

Cherith and Bruce Rydbeck

Bruce and Cherith Rydbeck have been doing exactly that –living it– by serving as missionaries on a variety of development projects in Ecuador, Colombia and Kenya since 1980. The Rydbecks wrote A Community Transformed as an upbeat, hope-filled section of the chapter, Unclean Water.

Their story is set in Ecuador, where the Rydbecks live. Bruce directs Clean Water Projects at HCJB Global’s Community Development, even as Cherith mentors Ecuadorians in leading Bible studies. She also volunteers in hospice care.

Their account begins in a Quito neighborhood called Rancho Alto (High Chaparral Ranch), where a carpenter named Cesar endured death threats from neighbors because of his faith in Christ.

Eventually, these neighbors were convinced of his authentic faith and profound concern for the community. He spearheaded the clean water project effort by weaving his neighbors’ collective will for bettering their world with the engineering expertise of Bruce and his colleagues. Community members volunteered for dusk-to-dawn project work on weekends, and the project was completed in less than 35 days.

“When it was completed, they were wonderfully amazed,” Bruce said. “All they had beforehand was very dirty water, which of course was contaminated from the mountainside –lots of cow manure, mud and etcetera. And now they have pristine water they’ve enjoyed for the last eight years. They do the management of the water system.”
“When I was up there just a few days ago, I realized that they’ve added on another 100 homes in the community, plus another 84 homes in the next door community,” Bruce continued. “So there are 284 homes that receive from that water system. It’s just a marvelous benefit to those people.”

Changes to basic services in Rancho Alto however, were only part of more profound changes in what may be termed “transformational development” in the lives of all parties involved. “There were individuals who were affected by the Christian message and even (whole) families that were affected,” Bruce. Problems of alcoholism, abuse, and neglect diminished because the message of the gospel accompanied the communities clean water effort.

“We can’t transform people; God transforms people,” Bruce emphasized, adding that his ideas on development have matured over years of working in Ecuadorian communities, primarily in rural areas. “I have a very different outlook about the spiritual component and how this works — how God wants to participate in development,” Bruce said. “He wants to be the provider, and most certainly He wants to do his redemptive, transformational process in each one of us.”


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