The Artibonite River meanders from the high mountains of the Dominican Republic, through vast Haitian plains down to the rolling emerald waves of the sea. It marks the boundary between Lubin and a neighbouring village. We assume that the dark water is at least an intimidating ninety foot width. The jade forest lacing the banks and the serene solitary canoe gliding towards us sets everything at peace. The river’s name is derived from Arawakan “Jatibonicu” meaning “Sacred High Place of the Great Waters”. It lives up to its regal name, it is not just a piece of scenery attached to the location. It is a source of livelihood impacting the lives of everyone living near it. Its indispensability brings to mind our own dependency on the One who calls Himself the Living Water.
As you walk along the muddy banks, carefully balancing on the narrow elevated paths, women’s hands at wash move to and fro in swift motion. They pause momentarily to wave an amiable greeting of “Bondye beni ou” or “God bless you”. Heads can be seen emerging from the water with bursts of laughter and little brown and yellow ducks sashay in a row down the stream. A system has been set up by Pastor Bo in order to irrigate the land and maintain crops. It is the place where drinking water is obtained by many at the risk of illnesses like cholera and it has been used to generate energy for electricity. We also learn that hundreds of sandbags have been stacked in order to prevent the overflow of the river during torrential rain. This is a solemn reminder that though God is our provider He is also just and His wrath to be dreaded.
While the river possesses a plethora of uses, the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4 discovers that there is a Man who offers water that quenches thirst forever. Anyone who drinks of this water will receive a spring of water welling up to eternal life. Beyond us distributing clear plastic bags of “l’eau” at each request and gulping down several a day, many are discovering the taste of a far more satisfactory quench. The evidence of it is in the tireless dedication of the Pastor and his family, the team of YWAM missionaries, the team of Barbadian missionaries and the villagers themselves. One of the most striking characteristics of Haitians is their willingness to share. Even though a child is parched she will ensure that all the children around her get a sip before she does. Jesus expects us to be quite so willing to share Him with everyone. He commissions His disciples in Mark 16:15 to go into all the world and preach the gospel not just to some but to everyone. We all need water for health, for life and for joy. The Living Water makes those necessities available to us for eternity. It is absolute selfishness to keep it to ourselves. If we believe in Him, rivers of living water will flow from us (John 7:38). His Spirit will dwell in us (39). It is of incredible significance that unlike our bagged water but like the river, this water does not cost anything. Yet it is clean, it is filling, it is perfect. And He invites everyone, anyone who thirsts for it to come and drink (John 7:37).