Add Money Now, Save Cost Later

(*This post is also viewable at Follow our team and get updates there and on facebook at

At Engage Burkina we want to provide those that give complete honesty and full disclosure as to why things cost what they do as we seek to provide water in Burkina Faso. We are raising the cost on our drilled wells, and I want to tell you why.

Since we first started doing drilled wells in Burkina Faso in 2008, the Burkinabe companies we have been working with have been putting pumps on the wells made from galvanized steel. Our team leader on the ground has been in construction in the US for more than a decade and is very knowledgeable of building and materials, but we didn’t realize what the implications of this would be. Earlier this year as we were planning to drill more wells, Burkinabe leaders from the villages began to share some interesting feedback. They were thrilled that more wells were going into villages without water, but respectfully they let us know we had a problem. Wells that we had previously done were breaking down.

Long story short galvanized steel is not holding up very well in this region of the world called, the Sahel. The harsh climate conditions can take a toll in a hurry. The repairs on these wells will cost us as little as $800 to as much as $3,600. With this knowledge and quite a bit of investigation we made the decision to upgrade all of our pumps to stainless steel. This is going to cost around $600 more per well. With that said the cost of drilled wells is being raised to $7,600. This $600 increase is less than any of the repairs we have done.

For those who sponsored a well in 2010 for the 2011 drilling season we made all of those pumps stainless steel though our price for sponsorship was. Engage Burkina received enough general gifts to provide clean water from individuals that we had the money needed to make up the difference and still do seven new drilled wells this year.

Thank you for giving, and for providing clean water to the people of Burkina Faso.

Everyone Belongs,


(*This post is also viewable at Follow our team and get updates there and on facebook at

Every Well Breaks Down

(*This post is also viewable at Follow our team and get updates there and on facebook at

Recently, I was listening to a talk from the 2012 Global Leadership Summit put on by Willow Creek Community Church.

Author Sheryl WuDunn was speaking and said this, “50% of water wells fail within one year.” She wasn’t speaking about water. In fact, she was talking about something else entirely.

Author WuDunn just threw it out there as something she knew to be true, and she’s right. A quick search on the internet will help you discover this is true. (For example: Some call it a dirty little secret. Some call it discouraging. I’m not sure its either, it is just a fact. There are tens of thousands of wells sitting dormant all over Africa that are no longer working. Many of them only worked for a short time. One billion people without water, and some are due to pure hearted, yet careless efforts.

I have learned one thing is an absolute truth when it comes to providing water in Africa, Every well will eventually break down. The question is, do you have a plan in place for repair? At Engage Burkina, we do. Let me give you a couple of recent examples from the ground from our field team leader John Arnold. I’m basically showing you some of our ‘in-house’ emails so be kind to us as you read. 🙂

“The Founza well completely broke down because of the galvinized pipes. I bought new stainless steel pipes for the tune of around $800 and they were put in on Friday. The Mayor, and Chief of Police and the Prefet for the whole area were there to see it and were very happy with the stainless steel.  They have great water now and they are going to write it up in their history of what the church has done for the town.”

“The drilled well in Saneba is up and running.  However the galvinized pipes had been stored for over a year and the rats had urinated on them causing them to deteriorate.  We put in stainless steel in that well this next week to the tune of $1050.  It needs to be done to have drinkable water.”

These are just two quick examples of the benefit of having personnel on the ground. That’s part of our little plan. Many American non-profits don’t have representatives on the ground to help ensure quality. They hire companies and trust that wells will get done. We tried that for a while. I’d go to Burkina a couple of times a year and get reports and put eyes on what I could, but we knew that would not work long term. Now with five team members on the ground, lots of work is happening every day.

A couple of other quick things we do. Every well we put in is under the care of a Pastor. If something goes wrong, they call one of our team members (mostly John), and we work to get the problem fixed as quickly as we can.

Finally, a Pastor named Abdias created a model for repair that has worked many times over. He would charge a small amount to use a well under his care, and then use those funds to repair when a well broke down. Remember, every well breaks down. However, this is not a perfect plan. Abdias is the Pastor of Founza (mentioned above). People living in the bush on less than $1 a day need are going to have a hard time coming up with an $800 repair. Founza is important. It is a village with a a market, and a crossroads for many different people groups. John helped get the well repaired and made a big impact on the leaders of that village.

If you have given to general gift to Engage Burkina, but didn’t give to sponsor a whole well, your money may have been used to repair wells like these. You may feel like your gift is small. It is the small gifts that allow the big ones to succeed and sustain. Thank you. Thanks for providing water, and for keeping it flowing.

Everyone Belongs,


(*This post is also viewable at Follow our team and get updates there and on facebook at

My Well Is Your Well

(*This post is also viewable at Follow our team and get updates there and on facebook at

One of the things that we have learned from first-hand experience while working to provide water in Burkina Faso, West Africa are some of the difficulties that occur between people of different belief.

It was a bit of a surprise when some of the Engage Burkina Team pulled into a village with a team of leaders who have provided resources for wells (and hope to provide more) and showed them a well we had dug…right next to another well.

Our primary desire is to make clean water accessible to those that have none. But here was our well, next to another one. Initially, we were a little embarrassed. Why did the Burkinabe leaders we had entrusted with making decisions on where wells would be placed put one here?

We have learned there are different reasons for this.

#1 – Wells done by a group of villagers on their own, in their desperation to find water, may have been done incorrectly. Wells can become contaminated or collapse in on themselves if not done the right way under the right supervision.

#2 – All of our wells are put under the care of the Burkinabe Christian and Missionary Alliance Pastors. Why? There are spiritual reasons for this, but there’s also an extremely basic humanitarian reason. The Christian Beliefs of the Pastors we partner with lead them to one incredible conclusion – The wells we dig or drill are for everyone. Truly the message that the Pastor gives to the rest of the village is that ‘My Well Is Your Well’.

In a part of the world where survival is limited by access to clean water, some deny this necessity to others. Amazing isn’t it? A village chief may be influenced by a village witch doctor to not share water with specific groups of people. We have seen this be especially true among villages where there are Christians because they worship differently than the witch doctor, and don’t comply with their schemes.

Several of the villages we work in have had wells go dry. But thanks to the resources provided by those that give to Engage Burkina the wells that we have put in continue to provide clean water. When that happens we don’t deny clean water to anyone, even if you have denied it to us.

Everyone Belongs,


A Little Something Extra (For Africa)

Each of our three locations at West Ridge Church are getting the opportunity to meet John and Betty Arnold right now. They are our next missionaries to Burkina Faso in West Africa. Like all of us their story and calling are unique and provide inspiration to others. They began their tour at our Cartersville location on April 15th, will be sharing at East on April 22nd, and hanging out at West on April 29th.

God has allowed them to raise almost all the funds they need for personal support, but they have a few other things that we wanted to invite everyone to help out with.

John and Betty will be setting up a house and new team center in Burkina Faso so that all of us can take turns going to see them and be a part of transforming this country. They have registered for several household goods that will help them be more successful, and all of you be more successful, when you go to West Africa. They have registered at Target and Walmart on their gift registries. You can go look at what they have registered for by clicking on the links below.

Click here for Target and here for Wal-mart

As you might imagine Wal-mart, Target, and Home Depot haven’t exactly made it to Burkina yet. It’s really important we help them get as many of these things as possible before they leave. We need these items by May 6th so that they can be put into a shipping container headed out over the Atlantic.

If you live in Paulding County they have also registered at Home Depot in Hiram. That list is not available on the internet, but they can pull it for you in the store. If you are a man or woman who loves tools go have a look and purchase something. Then when you come to Burkina you can use your tool to help build a church, school, repair a well, or help in some other way.

If you are planning to bring things back to a location of West Ridge contact the Missions office or drop things off on Sundays between now and May 6th.

You can follow John and Betty’s journey at and at

Everyone Belongs,


Taste and See

One of my most fun privileges is to help direct our efforts in Burkina Faso through our non-profit, Engage Burkina. Every year I get to visit this West African country at least once, meet with leaders, and find out how we can best serve their efforts to spread the gospel.

Since 2008 we have had the opportunity to fund and initiate the digging or drilling of 74 wells. That has allowed us to provide water to somewhere in the neighborhood of 50,000. This effort is happening from a growing network of individuals and churches from around the country.

Each year the two Burkinabe Pastors who oversee the digging of wells in the bush (where we are employing locals to do the work) send us back a detailed report of the cost for each well in each village, report to us what challenges they have encountered, and report the benefits of the wells.

Our most recent report had a comment on it that I thought was just good, clean fun. They reported that some villages are tasting things they have never tasted before. Presumably because they are growing things they have not been able to grow. Wow! I live in a country where I can have anything I want from just about anywhere, and they are experiencing new taste!

In Psalm 34:8 the writer says, “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed are those who take refuge in him.” These people are literally being able to taste and see that God cares about them and that he can be trusted.

We are going to continue to take water to the people of Burkina Faso. This time of year we are waiting for the water table to lessen so that we can be sure the wells are dug deep enough when we begin the process again in January. Of course, that makes this a great time to gather new commitments for the next season of activity. If you want to learn more about the work in Burkina or sponsor a well you can donate online by going to


Everyone Belongs,



Water and Hope

I was thrilled this week to get a bunch of pictures from Chris Feilds showing some of our current work in Burkina Faso. If you don’t know I help direct a non-profit that funds efforts in one of the poorest countries in the world. Burkina Faso is a small, land-locked country in West Africa, where one of the biggest needs is water.

I have been able to visit Burkina several times since our first vision trip in 2007. We have set up a partnership with the Christian and Missionary Alliance to piggy back on some of their infrastructure, add to that, and contribute to the work that is being done. A big part of that work is in providing water wells to villages that need it. Every well is being looked over by an African Pastor.

The last couple of years I have been able to visit and get reports on our previous work and set priorities going forward. Let me just say working in West Africa is not easy. There was a big learning curve for me, and the biggest learning has been ‘Stay Flexible’. However, we want to make sure stuff is getting done. These pictures show things being carried forward. I just got them this week. They are of new and current work in progress. None of the picts show any at full completion.

Water brings life. Water brings hope. African Pastors have told us, “You never know how many people will hear the gospel because of clean water. A government leader said, “People cannot hear the gospel without clean water.”

A special thanks on this year’s wells to lots of individuals who make this happen. Thanks to Summit Church in Kernersville, NC who have been selling t-shirts to dig wells. Also, Mike Pierce and his family and Clay Methodist Church, in South Bend, IN for putting such a big emphasis on impacting this country. To all the jittery coffee drinkers at West Ridge Church, and everyone who supports this effort from there, thanks a ton!

If you would like to contribute a small amount to this effort or sponsor an entire well, you can go to http://engageburkina/donate.

There’s lots more picts. Here are a few. ~Paul









Stories from Burkina Faso

A couple months ago I got to share with our church some of the impact that we have been able to make in Burkina Faso, located in West Africa. Several other churches are taking lead roles in providing water and sharing the gospel among an unreached people group. Here’s just a short snippet directed to the folks at West Ridge.

For more information visit


Stories From Burkina Faso from West Ridge Church on Vimeo.

It’s In Your Pocket

I love the story of the Pastor who stood up in front of his congregation and said, “I have great news! We have all the money we need to pay off our building! The bad news is that it is in your pocket!”

I happen to believe that the ability to meet some significant needs around the globe is in the pocket of every one of us. Most of you can part with $10 or $20 and not even miss it because you don’t budget anyway. The ones that do budget can actually move things around and free up significant amounts.

I have one example of this from the students at West Ridge Church. A couple of years back High School Pastor James Griffin and Middle School Pastor challenged their students to raise enough money for a drilled well. A majority of these students do not have jobs, but parents were giving them an allowance or some extra money to go out and grab a bite to eat. On their own, students started giving up the extra trip to Taco Bell (Parents can be cheap) and started giving that money.

In just a few weeks the students had raised $5,000 not with car washes, or selling Krispy Kremes, but just with the money that was in their pocket.

The well from those students was put in a village called, Fing (feeng) just outside the church there. This village holds the main market among a people group called The Pugli. This makes this village a main destination for people from miles around. Before our students raised the majority needed for this well, this village had no significant water source. These are a people group that have never heard the name of Jesus. Now the church has a physical platform to tell people about ‘The Living Water’ that comes only from knowing Christ.

Being faced with the needs of Burkina it is very clear that myself or my church cannot meet all the needs of this country. So we’ve set up way where all of us can contribute just a little to play a part in meeting a larger need. Go here to visit our store at Engage Burkina where you can give in any amount, or join together with others and put in a well in a village. We can provide a name and pictures of the well in the months to come. You can always know that you have changed hundreds of lives, with just what is in your pocket.

Everyone Belongs,


We Don’t Have Water

When it comes to finding a place to give during this Lent Season, you’ve got to know I’m going to give you a couple of ideas from Burkina Faso. The people in this West African country are truly the poorest of the poor. I was there a little over a month ago, and spent some time with some Pastor friends that oversee the wells that we have dug there. At one point in our conversation one of the Pastors got a bit choked up about the needs in his own village. This man has been overseeing the digging of more than 40 wells for us, and then got out some words that I wasn’t expecting:

We don’t have water.

Have you ever been without water? If a water main breaks near you home and your neighborhood goes without for a few hours it is really inconvenient isn’t it. You can’t wash your hands, wash clothes or dishes, take a bath, make coffee, mix up Kool-Aid for the kids, hose them off from playing outside, or flush the toilet. Ever gone a day, or two days? At this point, you are in a hotel aren’t you?  If you’ve ever had that happen for just a bit then you have had a glimpse of what the people in Burkina Faso deal with.

There are thousands of villages without water in this country. There are even neighborhoods in more significant towns and cities where it is not in adequate supply.

Whether you are participating in Lent or not, you can engage in giving to this need, and you don’t have to be able to afford a whole well. We have set up a store on a website called, Engage Burkina. There you can give in any amount, or sponsor a whole well. Your small group, office, Boy Scout troop, baseball team, or church can pick an amount and raise it over time so that less and less will be heard saying, ‘We don’t have water.’

Everyone Belongs,



Engage Burkina

Today, I want to put a website in front of you that I hope you will visit often, and consider how you might partner with us at This website will be a resource for churches, individual Christ-followers, and others who who want to be part of seeing God’s Kingdom come to Earth. I think it’s important you understand our reason for this. Below is how this came about. Please take a moment and read it. (Thanks to Phil Bowdle for bringing this website together, and Stephen Parris for the logo work. I highly recommend them!)

In 2007 a team from our church took our first vision trip to a small West African country called, Burkina Faso. I had always wanted to go to Africa, so for me, that trip was a dream come true. My expectations of what Africa would be like had been mostly set by watching movies. I had heard there was poverty and war and disease, but in truth I had never really paid attention. You certainly didn’t see any of that when you watched The Lion King.

On that first vision trip I learned that:

  • Burkina Faso has been listed as high as the 2nd poorest country in the world in the last five years.
  • One year in the last decade an estimated 1/2 million people died as a result of famine, and the swarm of locusts that followed.
  • One in 3.4 children die before the age of ten. AIDS and Malaria are contributing factors, but the two largest reasons are malnutrition and water born illnesses.
  • Less than a third of the population can read
  • Most importantly to me, a vast majority of this country has never heard of, or has no understanding of Jesus. A majority of the population is Muslim, and a majority of the rest are animist.

The last note is the most important. However, for me  as a follower of Jesus, it feels at best hypocritical to go into a country and just talk about Jesus without demonstrating the love and kindness and care that he demonstrated to people. The sound of a growling stomach makes the core message of Jesus more difficult to hear. One leader told us that ‘People cannot hear the gospel without water.” We want to play a part in meeting physical needs for these incredible people. Jesus came to serve and we come to serve as well.

The people and the land of Burkina Faso captured my heart, and now the hearts of many of my friends. Yes, we found harsh climate, unbelievable poverty, all in all a country with people full of need. I have also found beauty in the contentment, joy, community, land, and work ethic of the people there. This is a country with great leaders whose desire is to bring peace and wholeness to their own people spiritually, physically, and emotionally. Our hope is to come alongside these leaders and help them accomplish the goals and purposes that they set, building relationships along the way.

We will continue to add new pictures, videos, and stories that grab your attention until this country captures your heart as well. I have several new videos from a trip I just returned from.

Please visit

Everyone Belongs,