The gospel drop by drop
By Kerry Allan | Peru in South America
Demonstring water filtration in Peru. Photo by SIM.
Water engineer Lizzie White can often be found driving up precarious mountain roads for hours at a time, followed by an arduous trek, in order to reach rural communities in the Peruvian Andes - but it’s all in a day’s work for this dedicated mission worker.
Since 2014, she has used her specialised skills to help improve quality of life for hundreds of farmers and their families, who have their own culture and language, called Quechua.
Lizzie is based in Abancay, a large town about five hours south of the city of Cusco –once capital of the Inca Empire – and runs her ministry in partnership with a local Peruvian organisation called AIDIA, which does community development work in rural areas, including Bible translation, church support and church planting.
“The villages are scattered around and quite remote,” says Lizzie. “They’re often high up in the mountains and, although many have roads, the journey can take a couple of days.
“I accompany the local Quechua-speaking Christians from AIDIA on their trips and get to know the church (and the community gets to know me) before beginning my water teaching.”
Lizzie shows villagers how they can protect and maintain their water system properly to ensure water is clean. Parasites that lurk in unsafe drinking water cause a range of complaints, including anaemia, malnourishment and stomach upsets.
“I’ll also talk to individual families about how they can use water filters that remove microscopic parasites from drinking water in their homes,” she explains.
Over the years, Lizzie has made friends with her ‘water filter’ villagers and always receives a warm welcome when she makes follow-up visits.
Her ministry has also helped to break down barriers and change attitudes in some areas where there was initial opposition to the church.
“The water ministry work that I do and that of one of my SIM colleagues in dentistry, really helps people to see that the church is there to be a blessing to the community,” she adds.
During her time on the field, Lizzie has developed good contacts with the regional Peruvian government officials, who are keen to prevent the health and economic difficulties created by poor water quality and sanitation.
While they run projects and build infrastructure, such as reservoirs and toilet blocks, they’re grateful for Lizzie’s expertise and often invite her to teach water hygiene in schools and train district staff about the long-term benefits of water filters.
Excitingly, since February, three of AIDIA’s workers are now supporting Lizzie in her water ministry.
“An existing SIM project working with AIDIA has been expanded and updated to enable each worker to give part of their time for water projects,” she explains. “We’ve been praying for this for many years because it means we’ll be able to visit even more areas and I can train the Peruvian Christians to help with the work and eventually take over.”
“It’s a great encouragement to believe our work is making a difference, both in terms of healthy lifestyles and community relationships and it’s also amazing to be part of a joint project between SIM and AIDIA that’s led to many families coming to church on a regular basis where they hear the gospel.”
• For energy and safety as Lizzie undertakes demanding journeys.
• For wisdom in her role as SIM Peru Personnel Coordinator, as Lizzie takes time away from water projects to help workers to settle into their new context and team.
• For many Peruvians to respond to the Living Water and the promise of salvation through Lizzie’s ministry.
If you would like to support Holistic Quechua Ministries, Abancay, please click here. (Project Number 91151)