Our copy of Pipeline arrived in the mail a couple days ago. Pipeline is “published quarterly by Living Water International to raise awareness about the global water crisis and to inspire Christians everywhere to respond with compassion to the needy of the world.” This edition of Pipeline is dedicated to LWI’s work in Peru, and especially to remember the work and vision of Tommy Head who was killed in a motorcycle accident on April 25, 2009. You can read the online edition of Pipeline at this link.
The lead article is called “A Light in the Darkness” (like that title!!) and it tells the story of the Candoshi people who live in the jungles of Peru, the people who Tommy and the rest of Living Water Peru were and are working to provide clean drinking water for.
Another article called “The Screaming Candoshi Lady” was written by Tommy himself, a few months before Tommy died. The core of the article describes the challenge of deciding which village will receive the next well, and a meeting with thirty village chiefs and some other tribe members to inform them how the selection process works.
A Candoshi woman who was present at the meeting started screaming at him (see the article title), and the two paragraphs from the article that I’m going to quote show Tommy’s response not only to her but to the entire situation and his approach to the necessary decision-making that is involved in work like this.
There were tears in her eyes. She was intense and passionate about whatever it was that she was saying. I just sat there. I did my best to stay cool and just listen — God gave me that grace, as that is not my nature. When she finished I looked at the translator and he gave me a 45-second rundown of what she said, obviously omitting some of the finer points.
I asked what village she was from and — this was the odd part — we had already done a well in that village. I was a bit confused, but her point wasn’t that her village didn’t have clean water, but that I was taking a “We’ll get to it when we get to it” attitude, and in the meantime, their children were dying. I know with every decision we make to do a well we are also making a decision NOT to do others. We don’t take this lightly and ask for wisdom from God in making these decisions.
What jumped out at me was their very practical application of James 1:5, which says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” What they weren’t doing was sitting around waiting for a sign, a call, an audible word from God, or anything of the sort. They saw a (great) need, they asked God for wisdom, they used their minds and God-given intellect and common sense, and then they acted on their plan, trusting God for the outcome.
At least, that’s how I interpreted what Tommy wrote. Do you see it differently?