But guess what, this wild, implausible God-sized idea is on the verge of being fulfilled! What most people thought a pipe dream, a crazy idea of a idealistic Christian, is close to halfway to becoming a reality and should be realized by 2020.
Liberia, a country on the west coast of Africa, established by Americans in the early 1800's, is the country. Todd Phillips, a Texas pastor, is the man with the vision of bringing "living water"to this African country plagued by water borne diseases because of internal wars, poverty and corruption.
I attended the premier of a movie entitled Thirst: Mission Liberia, Sunday night in Austin that documents Todd's vision and the incredible story of how this is being accomplished through Todd's non-profit organization, The Last Well. I'm especially excited about the project because of my connection to Todd, which goes back to 1994 just after he committed his life to Christ and moved from Colorado to Austin. I was the Minister to Single Adults at Hyde Park Baptist at the time, and had the privilege to mentor and disciple him during the first years of his Christian life.
A couple of years after Todd moved to Austin I was working with other Christian leaders in the area to get a singles city wide weeknight gathering started in Austin. We needed a speaker but could not settle on anyone. I saw something in Todd, a passion for Christ, charisma and a drive. He was a young Christian so there was a hesitancy to hand him the leadership. But he had started a Bible study at Dell and had grown it to over 40 people, so I thought we'd give it a go with Todd as our speaker. We began on a Thursday night with 12 people and within a couple of years with Todd's leadership and speaking, grew to over 700 single adults meeting every Tuesday night.
Phillips went on to pastor a young adult church for several years in the Washington D.C. suburbs where his God-sized vision of bringing water to a whole nation was birthed. He explained that these young adults were inspired by the movie Amazing Grace and wanted to achieve a "William Wilberforce accomplishment" - something akin to ending the slave trade in England. So with prayer and inspiration they came up with the idea of providing clean water and the Gospel to an entire nation, one that is on the list of the most needy countries in the world.
Besides being amazed at the scope of the task, these are some of the takeaways I received from the film:
- I often settle for good when God can accomplish much greater things through me. Ephesians 2:10
- You can not accomplish great things without God and without others. You must make connections and develop relationships.
- God uses the most heartbreaking and discouraging events to help us accomplish His tasks. When you get discouraged, take heart that the trial you face may actually be the path to victory.
- Don't get distracted from God's calling. There are a lot of needs in the world and Africa, but Todd has stayed firm to accomplishing the two things he feels called to do in a specific place, knowing many other good things will follow if these are accomplished.
- You never know the impact you will have on those whom you mentor and disciple. The one you lead to Christ might be the next Billy Graham.