I couldn’t believe how steep the incline was. It was my first trip to the well, in the community of Murindi, Rwanda. I joined an incredible team, from Mission Hills Church, in Littleton, Colorado, as we scrambled/slid down the side of a steep hill—there is a reason they call Rwanda the Land of a Thousand Hills!
On this particular trip, several members of the team from Mission Hills jumped in to help bear part of the load. It was an honor for this team to offer even a little help getting water back up the hill that day. This well in Murindi, Rwanda, was surrounded by women and children and I was deeply moved by the effort that many of these women make for their families. Children get involved as well, working hard to carry “jerrycans” full of water up the hill, to help care for their families.
We were witnessing daily life at a community well, and I couldn’t help but recall the variety of biblical accounts about wells. In the Bible, there are several stories about wells. We read about Moses at Midian’s well, David longing for a drink from the well near the gate of Bethlehem, and Jesus reaching out to the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well.
My favorite ancient story about wells is Abraham’s servant observing the well in Nahor, on the lookout for the perfect wife for Isaac, his master’s son. He was blown away by a lovely young lady, Rebekah, because she was literally the answer to his prayers. The servant prayed specifically that the young lady who not only agreed to give him a drink from her jar, but also offered to draw water for his camels (imagine how much a camel can drink!) would be the perfect mate for Isaac.
In Genesis 24:18-20, we read, “Drink, my lord,” she said, and quickly lowered the jar to her hands and gave him a drink. After she had given him a drink, she said, “I’ll draw water for your camels too, until they have had enough to drink.” So she quickly emptied her jar into the trough, ran back to the well to draw more water, and drew enough for all his camels.” What a clear answer to prayer!
There are a couple of things that I love about this story: First, God showed up in the middle of the daily struggle, before the servant had even finished his prayer. It’s tough to get water from a well every day just to care for your family. And, right there in the middle of the struggle, the sacrifice, the uphill challenge, God showed up to answer a prayer.
Secondly, Rebekah had a servant’s heart. She was willing to sacrificially offer water to a bunch of stinky camels—and that is part of what made her so beautiful. This story reminds me of what attracted me to my wife, Kimberly, more than 25 years ago—she has a servant’s heart, always on the lookout for the needs of others and willing to jump right in. Who is God calling you to serve today? It may not involve carrying five gallons of water up a steep hill, but is there a specific way that you can serve someone today? May God help us all to be sensitive to the needs of others…around the world…and right next door.