Banding together with local church youth groups, contemporary Christian musician Matt Thien and the Beech Foundation are bringing "living water" to the lives of people in Nakuru, Kenya.
They’ll be putting on a benefit concert, along with artist Andy Hunt, next Saturday, May 15, 6 p.m., at the Olde Town Pavilion to raise money for a mission trip to help build a safe water supply for the residents of Dump City in Nakuru.
The link between Nakuru and Conyers began back in 2004 when local Jeff Beech and his foundation partnered with local churches as well as a few dozen churches across the country and six churches in Kenya and other non-profits to form the Tumaini Mission Center, which now encompasses schools, an orphanage and clinic. Fast forward to March of 2008 when Discipleship Now, a county-wide weekend youth rally, was taking place and snow interfered with Saturday’s scheduled delivery of inflatables and paintball activities. They had already planned to contribute money to Dry Tears, a student organization that donates funds to build wells in areas without clean water. Money initially budgeted for their entertainment together with love offerings from area churches and contacts and matching funds from Beech resulted with a well built in Nakuru.
Through a confluence of events, a special needs school there has a well that pumps 12,000 liters of water per hour, providing enough for the whole community. Previously, they received water twice a week from a drainage ditch pipe that was mostly contaminated, causing much unnecessary illness. A focus of next month’s mission trip is building water tanks in nearby Dump City to store some of the excess water for residents.
Dump City is exactly what it sounds like — a make-shift city on top of a garbage dump inhabited by those without hope for a better future, mostly refugees. Mark Walker, youth pastor at Rockdale Baptist Church, saw it first hand in January. "It’s not a place human beings need to live. They’re using trash to survive…it’s the worst living conditions I’ve ever seen," he said.
"The school is able to sell the extra water for medicines and other supplies. The well has brought life to this small town in Kenya all because God had a big plan and made it snow in another small town in March on the other side of the world," said Walker.
Brenna Beech, a Heritage High junior and Kenya mission veteran, witnessed the huge difference water — something most Westerners take for granted — made in lives there. "My spirit was hurt to see these kids with snot and flies stuck to them in the worst conditions possible. The year after the well was put in, the kids had clean sheets, a garden and were able to brush their teeth…it was an amazing transformation," said Beech. She’s excited to share her "second home" with three friends joining her for their first time this year.
In addition to putting in the tanks for Dump City, the multi-generational mission team will host a soccer camp and a few pre-med students will work in a maternity clinic during the trip next month. Jeff Beech encourages team members to use their God-given talents while in Kenya.
Enter Matt Thien, a Navy flight officer and musician who joined the trip last year when he attended Smyrna Presbyterian, before he was relocated to Virginia Beach. He was called to write and record "10 Days 10 Songs" to document his Kenyan journey. Last year’s group was involved in planting over 100 trees.
"I got really excited, because a tree gives us so much," he said. "I jotted down a few phrases that immediately came to me, ‘Because of you I have air to breathe, Because of you I have food to eat, a place to shade alone covers me.’ Then I started feeling God urge me in a direction of thinking that, ‘Hey, God gives me these things too in a spiritual sense; air, food, rest, shade. I started getting really excited about a song that would no doubt be about a tree, but every line would also parallel exactly what Jesus gives us too," said Thien.
His CD "drops" next week with 100 percent of profits, plus matching funds from the Beech Foundation, going to the Tumaini mission. His soulful, acoustic pop and rock songs are also available on iTunes, and he’s performing in the benefit concert May 15 at 6 p.m. at The Olde Town Pavilion.
Tickets for the event are $10 and are available at Kaiteur Coffee and at the concert. For more information visit www.mattthien.com.