Zadecha Island is one of five small islands on Lake Zway in Ethiopia. It is inhabited by about 1,500 people who speak their own language, Zay.
When the team from University City Fellowship, now Venture Church, visited the elders on the island, they voted and decided that fresh water was their number one need. Lake Zway had always been their source for water and much of their food, which is fish. It is also the home of hippos, very dangerous animals. The water is filled, as you might guess, with parasites. These parasites and other water borne illnesses accounted for most of the deaths on the island. In fact, it is thought that Garrett and Tia's father might have died because of this lack of fresh water. Through the work and giving of so many, four wells have been built on the island and an additional one in a nearby village.
The second most critical need the people had, according to the elders, was medical care. The only access to it was a 2 1/2 hour boat ride across Lake Zway to the mainland. It is then quite a trip into the city. God has provided, through another group of people, a medical clinic on the largest of the five islands, Debra Tsion. One of the original goals of Garrett's Heart was to build a medical clinic and what a blessing to have someone else take that on. God's provision of medical care frees us up to work on the third most important physical need the elders named, which is irrigation.
The crops are sparse because of the lack of rain. They have a rainy season of about six weeks each year and no irrigation or water collection systems are in place. Garrett remembers a time when he was very scared. There was a hippo outside of their hut and his mother went out yelling and chasing the hippo away. Garrett told his adoptive mother, Mendy, that his fear was not of the hippo harming his mother but of the hippo eating their food planted outside. He was afraid to be hungrier. The attention is now on providing an irrigation system that will triple their ability to grow crops.
The Zay people are listed as an un-reached people group - meaning they have no consistent gospel presence in their language or living among them. They do not know of following Christ and our hope has been, from the beginning, that when they experience God's physical provision, His Life-giving provision, they will not only experience an abundant life here on this earth but eternal life as well. Well, once again God has provided in a way bigger than any of us would have imagined and He connected David Henderson (Venture Church) with a native Ethiopian man, Joseph Menna, who works for E3 Partners (the 'I am Second' people) in Ethiopia. Joseph and David were able to travel out to the island where Joseph led Garrett and Tia's mother, Werke, and their oldest sister to put their faith in Jesus. David was also able to meet with a larger group of pastors and help to develop a plan to reach the Zay people with the Gospel on a more consistent basis. The first event in the three-year plan was a training retreat for 70 pastors in the region. We are confident that this training will lead to many people being able to hear the Gospel and having a chance to respond to it. Here is a picture of some of the pastors who took part of their day to go to Lake Zway and pray for the people of the islands:
What an amazing work God has started on this small island in Ethiopia and we are certain that He will bring to completion what He has started!