From the World Vision U.S. president: Prayer delivers clean water in Ethiopia

World Vision U.S. President and CEO Edgar Sandoval Sr. visits the Well of Prayer in Ethiopia.

A few years ago in Durame, Ethiopia, I drank clean water from what locals call the Well of Prayer. The water was good, but the story of how the well got its name was even better.

Other organizations had drilled six times for clean water in this arid place, without success. When World Vision arrived to make our attempt, the people might have said not to bother, since everyone else had failed. Instead they said, “We must pray and fast, and the Lord will bring us water.”

So that’s what they did, for three days. The drilling started, descending 100 meters, 150 meters, 200 meters, 280 meters deep — no water. Undaunted, people kept praying. And the team resumed drilling, deeper and deeper, down 300 meters, and kept going.

Finally, at the significant depth of 318 meters, water gushed up! And the Well of Prayer got its name. Yes, there were water technology experts on the job, armed with the best drilling machinery. And clearly the water was there. But without faith, we couldn’t reach it.

Belief is at the heart of any important effort. Belief in God, that He is who He says He is, and that His promises are true. Belief in our identity as God’s creation, chosen for a special purpose. And belief that every last one of God’s children deserves life, hope, and a future.

Jesus himself told us, “Everything is possible for one who believes” (Mark 9:23).

Faith in Jesus Christ motivated World Vision to take a bold step 10 years ago, to stand up against extreme poverty around the world. In 2011, we set an audacious goal to raise $500 million and help 20 million people worldwide. We believed in the overwhelming generosity of our donors and in the hard work of the families we serve. By God’s grace and answered prayer, we exceeded our goal and reached more than 25 million people, half of them children.

Today, we’re aiming to reach 60 million* more people with practical help and tools to empower them to lift themselves out of poverty. Why go further? A better question is, why not? If we believe Jesus is “the same yesterday and today and forever,” as Hebrews 13:8 says, then we know Jesus was not only the Miracle Worker in biblical times but that He continues to work miracles today, through His people, for the glory of God.

We have unbeatable partners — supporters like you and the families we’re working alongside. You are all world-changers. Together, we can’t stop at “good enough” when we’re capable of so much more.

Even today, confronted by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, we must press on. We’ve seen the Lord’s faithfulness over seven decades of ministry around the world. That gives us full confidence that He will continue to use us today, in the here and now. To take on extreme poverty, a goal made harder by the coronavirus. To go to the world’s toughest places, where God is already at work.

The people of Durame, Ethiopia, exemplified that believers pulling in the same direction with persistence and prayer are a powerful force. That’s why I truly believe that you, I, and every last one of us can be God’s instrument in transforming lives. So let’s press into the miraculous, yielding to the Holy Spirit to do His transformative work around the world.


*Includes the number of unique participants in each of our Signature Initiative programs. Because of World Vision’s multi-sector approach, some people will participate in more than one program.

Edgar Sandoval Sr. became president and CEO of World Vision U.S. on October 1, 2018. Follow him at twitter.com/EdgarSandovalSr.

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