First came free healthcare. Then an evangelistic series. Now it is water.
A two-week initiative to share Jesus in the Zimbabwean city of Chitungwiza expanded Thursday with the inauguration of one of 12 ADRA-dug wells, providing drinking water to the community.
“We are practicing comprehensive health ministry,” said Seventh-day Adventist Church president Ted N.C. Wilson, who cut a ceremonial ribbon at the opening of the well, a thigh-high faucet standing on a pipe on gravel-strewn ground and festively decorated with a couple green-and-white balloons and ribbons.
Comprehensive health ministry describes an effort by the Adventist world church to meet both the physical and spiritual needs of communities.
Chitungwiza, a city of about 365,000 people located a 30-minute drive south of the capital, Harare, has become a center of Adventist activity in recent days.
A mega free clinic manned by about 180 volunteers opened to crowds of patients in a local shopping center on May 13, offering tests for diabetes and heart disease, cancer screening, eye exams, psychological evaluations, dental services, nutrition classes, a stop-smoking program, primary health care, minor surgeries including circumcision, and major surgeries at a nearby government hospital.
More than 13,000 patients had been treated by Thursday, five days before the event ends May 29.
“The number of patients is unbelievable!” Wilson said. “It is far more than what they had anticipated. It is a huge success to God’s glory!"
The clinic, which is open six days a week, celebrated its official opening Thursday with a visit by Minister of Lands and acting Health and Child Welfare Minister Douglas Mombeshora.
People who have been treated at the clinic have been invited to attend a nightly evangelistic series that began in a large, adjacent field on May 17. Many appear to be responding. The crowd of 12,000 people who came to hear Wilson speak about biblical prophecy on opening night has swelled to more than 20,000.
Other evangelistic meetings are being held simultaneously at 86 other sites in 17 towns and cities across Zimbabwe, the culmination of months of preparatory work that included about 5,000 Bible study groups in those areas. The evangelistic meetings will end with an anticipated 30,000 baptisms on Sabbath, May 30.
Minister Mombeshora also attended the opening of the well, where he thanked ADRA and the Adventist Church for working to improve people's lives.
The 11 other wells are located at various locations around the country.
“Building new wells can completely transform a village by bringing safe, clean water close to home,” Jason Brooks, senior technical adviser for water, hygiene, and sanitation at the Adventist Development and Relief Agency, told theAdventist Review. “Women and children don’t have to walk for miles to get water, so they can spend their days in meaningful work or stay in school.”
He also said wells drastically reduce chronic disease from unsafe drinking water because villagers no longer have to share their drinking source with bathers, livestock, and other contaminants.
With the opening of the wells, ADRA will now provide hygiene and sanitation trainings for the community, he said.