This May, I took my first trip to Ghana with Young Leaders International. It was my first ever trip to Africa, and it was life changing. I am posting a series of snapshots with captions which share a unique aspect of my trip.

This post focuses on Water!  Young Leaders International began with a desire to do long-term discipleship with young leaders who will impact their world with the love and good news of Jesus. But as YLI began doing amazing work to spread the Gospel and disciple leaders, they could not overlook people’s desperate need for water. The heart of the Gospel is God’s love for us, and as we make disciples, love must be our primary motivation as well. And when you love people, you cannot overlook their suffering.

The North is hot and arid like a desert. Temperatures can rise above 110 degrees. Being so close to the Equator, Ghana only has two seasons, a rainy season and a dry season. Most people in Ghana are subsistance farmers and incredibly dependent upon the rains to live. Due to climate change, the rainy season has been inconsistent and hard to predict.


Water is a real challenge in Ghana. This bucket in a bath tub is the the norm even for city life. Foreigners shouldn’t drink the tap water. The water pressure can’t really flush a toilet. There were no showers. You simply fill a bucket with water and try to get clean as best you can. I love showers after a long day outdoors, but I got to the point where I almost gave up bathing because the bucket bath was so disappointing. But then I smelled myself and kept bathing. We take so much for granted. Without any effort, we turn on the faucet and have clean water to drink, cook with, and bathe in. Most people walk for for miles each day to carry buckets of water for necessary tasks in their house. In the picture above and to the right, I imagine Jesus asking the woman at the well for a drink.

We drank from the same calabash, a hard gourd used as a bowl and cultural symbol. This is a bore well in a village near Saboba that was repaired, thanks to a YLI donor. This water was safe enough for us to drink. And the water runoff is collected into a trough for the cattle to drink. Projects like this communicate the holistic work of the Gospel.

Although the Northern part of Ghana can be like a desert, it is not uncommon during the rainy season to find some natural sources of water. The lush green picture shows a creek that is teaming with wild pigs. As beautiful as this scene is, the water is unsafe to drink and there are no means of filtration. The hole on the right is a natural well that fills during the rainy season. unfortunately this water spoils as animals and debris fall in.



Many of our coaches work in villages that have very contaminated sources of water. This is Naamu. This reservoir is their primary water source. The cattle come to drink and defecate in the water. There was a crocodile in the water too. They must walk a mile down hill to get to the reservoir.

One of our Coaches, Zac, moved to this community to make disciples, he eventually planted a church and also started a school for the children. You can read more about his story here. Despite all of Zac’s efforts to show God’s love to the community, this is the water the kids have to drink.

Could you imagine your child drinking this water? This is what they use to cook food and wash clothes with. Look closer at the hoof marks in the mud. That dark spot in the water above my hand is cow dung.
This is the land the chief gave us permission to build a shelter for a church that will catch rain water in large tanks for drinking.
The finished site will look like this; one of our previous water projects to support the work of our coaches. These water tank fill during the rainy season and provide clean drinking water during the dry season. The church can meet under the shelter and fill in the walls with mud bricks later.

Thanks to YLI, Zac is able to have a greater impact on this community. And this water project will further his work to make disciples of Jesus Christ. We have a saying at YLI; when you invest in young leaders it transforms a community. God is transforming young leaders all over the world to be light and salt in their communities. Will you join with us in training and equipping these leaders to further impact their world with the love and good news of Jesus?



One thought on “Matt’s First Ghana Adventure: Part 1. The Need for Water

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