Whenever we begin to feel that we are not and cannot do enough to help the poor, orphaned, and ill with whom we live, we remember that we are not doing this alone. Through our prayers and the prayers of many, many others, we receive blessings in abundance. We wanted the biosand water filters to take off and provide safe, clean drinking water to tens of thousands. Our efforts had only resulted in about 500 filters being placed (of course, that means 15,000 people are getting good, clean water), but then others who had been here for other reasons came back to learn more about the filters (see picture at the right). Now, we have groups not connected to us but who were trained and supplied by us making biosand filters in the Congo, Kenya, and all over Tanzania with one group (those pictured) having a two-week training session in late November in Mwanza to expand the project even more. We helped start one preschool for orphans and that has grown to nine schools in nine churches. We didn’t start the schools, but we did train the teachers and provide some basic materials. What we had forgotten was that we were living out an old story that many of you know, the story of “Stone Soup.” The difference is that we didn’t have to trick anyone. In case you have forgotten the story, here it is:
Many years ago, during the Hundred Years War in France, three weary soldiers were returning from battle. They stopped in a small village after two days of no food. The impoverished towns people, who had little food themselves, saw the bedraggled men and decided to hide what little they had from the famished soldiers. Everywhere they went, they heard the same story. There was no food in anyone's pantry. The soldiers were desperate and desperate men can be quite cunning. The three pitched a camp close to the center of town. They found a large cauldron and decided to make "stone soup." Over a campfire, they got the pot boiling with some water from a nearby creek. Into the boiling water they placed a few stones. The curious townspeople saw the pot boiling and started asking questions. The soldiers explained that they had made a "stone soup" but that it would be much better with some seasonings. Off ran some peasants to get some herbs to spice up the pot. As the aroma improved another peasant decided it would be better with vegetables. Still another thought, "what is a soup without meat?" and ran to get some. Eventually all the peasants had to get involved with this wonderful soup and everyone contributed something. With the cooperation of the whole town, the best meal everyone had had in years was provided. They all decided they would never go hungry again, now that they knew how to make soup from stones.
None of us can do what God calls us to do without help from many, many others. What we forget is that it is by trying that others see us and want to help. We came here with two suitcases, $8,000, and a lot of faith. In effect, we came with the pot, the water, and the stone. Ten years later, we have a mission, nine churches with preschools, twenty new churches, over 3,500 new Christians and church members, have allied with another 100 Methodist churches, and we are still expanding our outreach in spite of our age and physical handicaps. If you want to succeed, start making some “stone soup” for God. All you need is the pot and a stone, God will provide everything else—for God is good, all the time.