After we received such positive feedback to our last post, Saving Souls… One Bottle at a Time. I thought it might be valuable to show you another piece of our evangelism strategy: building bio-sand water filters. Like building cisterns using bottle-brick construction, this method has the same clear advantages:
- It meets a felt need: for clean water & good health.
- It’s sustainable: anyone can do it with local materials.
- And it provides a lot of relationship-building time between the local church and the non-believers who want to learn.
In July, we attended a workshop in Anacortes, WA, on bio-sand water filters. One of the big lessons we learned is that this is a community effort! You can see how everyone was working together in each of these pictures.
All the time we spent shovelling and sifting sand, mixing concrete, pounding the mold, we were building relationships with the people we were working with. We started our total strangers. After a week of sweating together and eating together, we had become close friends.
As we worked on this, it became clear to us that this could be a great tool for evangelism. The Maasai understand that dirty water can make them sick; they are constantly looking for maji saafa–clean, safe water. When they come to help build their own water filter, or a filter for their child’s school, they will be building relationships with Christian men and women.
So how well do the filters work?
As you can see from our graphic, they work very well. They work as well as most commercially available filters, but they can be built by local people, using locally available materials. With a simple modification, they will remove arsenic from water!
Consider the effectiveness of the filters in Goma, in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Since January 2015, there have been more than 100,000 documented cases of cholera, with over 2,000 deaths. Our friends at Friendly Water for the World (who trained us) trained two teams of BioSand Filter fabricators (one made up entirely of women rape survivors from the war.) They installed BioSand Water Filters in 26 orphanages, and taught basic hygiene and community sanitation. Since installing these filters, they have completely eliminated cholera: As of September 2nd, there is not a single case of cholera in any orphanage in Goma.
This gives us an opportunity to be a blessing to the community, and a method to spread the gospel. Matthew repeatedly tells us that Christ went about healing people, teaching and proclaiming the news about the kingdom. We emulate His model in our work in Tanzania.