The number seven is often called “the number of spiritual perfection.” Well, my friends and I added three zeros and called it “the number of miles we’re walking across Africa.” Starting in Cape Town, South Africa, and ending in Cairo, Egypt, (7,000 miles total). This may be a big task, but we hope it will make a difference. Our walk represents the fact that women and children all over the world often have to walk many miles a day in order to get water; and most of the time it is not even clean. In the end, drinking or using this water does more harm than good.
We are walking to bring awareness to the issue that many around the world still do not have access to the basic human right of clean water; and hoping people will sponsor us so we can provide funds to help end this injustice.
Although walking 7,000 miles may sound like mostly a physical impossibility, it is not the muscle aches or strenuous miles that are our biggest challenge; our greatest task is teamwork. Teamwork determines our survival. One of our mentors described this task as being bonded together as close as if in marriage. That’s how close and dedicated we must be to each other in order to make this work.
Drew Daniels, Ohio-ian, Eagle Scout, Previously purposefully homeless, pacifist.
Nyawaraga Chuol, Sudanese/American, strong survivor, beautiful woman of God.
Aaron Tharp, JPUSAian, hippie with dreads, free spirit, lover of all people.
Saada Hilts, Ethiopian/American, the wise youngin’, brave soul.
Josiah Tharp, Ohio-ian, spirited, writer, passionate, artist.
Amy Russell, Connecticut-ian, visionary, adventurer, crazy.
This is just the beginning of a description for these people, there’s so much more to them, more that I don’t even know yet. But those are the words I choose for today. That’s us. The team. Those are the people I have to trust, and the people who must trust me in order for our walk across Africa to work.
Ultimately, the thing is, God has called us to go. He has called us to step out boldly in this way. Specifically for us, He has called us to go in order that we might speak out for those who are suffering without clean water. And as much as this task could seem impossible, it is so much bigger than us—it is for the people God cares so much for all around the world. That is the biggest joy in this journey, that we might be a part of the redemptive movement of God in the world.
I think when you step out in faith, two things happen. I think God knocks your socks off with blessings and provision. I also think Satan attacks in full force, and will try to stop you from stepping into what God is calling you to do.
At the beginning of this journey, I was willing to go, even if that meant I was going alone. But it has been amazing how others have heard God’s calling and risen up to the task. As this process movies forward, that has been one of the strongest signs of God’s blessing. Now it is even more amazing, as other people come forward in support: churches, pastors, friends, family and businesses. God has opened doors for us to learn and get connected to amazing people.
I think it’s safe to say we all still question it sometimes. There is much that can hold us back if we let it. The sheer statistics of danger, our want to control every detail of our lives, the fear of the unknown, the unwillingness to put our comfortable lives on hold for a while … the list could go on. And those things are so tempting! It is not natural to deny safety and the usual comforts; and as Americans, it is scary to not be in control of our surroundings. In the end there is no way that any amount of training, mental preparation or pure willpower will prepare us fully for what we are going to experience.
We’ve all faced different obstacles within our lives. And there are still battles we fight every day within ourselves—we’re human. But I know any challenges we may have faced up to this point will pale in comparison to the journey we are going to embark upon in just over a year’s time, in our walk across Africa.
There is no way to deny the odds we’re up against. But I believe, we all believe, in God’s provision, in His protection. And just when we feel defeated or are questioning the most, God will often send us another reminder of His greatness, and our call to serve Him in this way.
One of the best and most challenging parts of this trip is that we can’t do it alone. We need people constantly praying for us even now, and while we are there. We need people to believe in us, to believe in this vision, to believe in God’s power to change the world in this way. There are many that don’t share that vision, and it’s hard to come face to face with that reality, especially when they are people close to us. However, it is amazing how many have come alongside to challenge and uplift us, to encourage and lift in prayer, to support.
We can’t do this alone. We will never make a difference without other people pitching in and doing their part to help provide this essential human right to others around the world. We can’t do anything without each other. As we learn to trust each other as a team, we also seek to trust humanity to do the right thing. Teamwork.