On an airline flight recently, I was seated by a young Army soldier going home from Afghanistan. We began talking, and the soldier told me of a recent event in a remote village in Afghanistan.
There is a small and impoverished village in Afghanistan that has no means of getting clean water. Every morning, the village women gather at a certain spot in the village to gather water for their families. In a group, these women make the long and treacherous journey up the rocky Afghan terrain, while dodging boulders and avoiding the varied forms of rugged plant life that the Afghanistan climate supports.
Many American soldiers had developed a friendship with the town’s men. When the military officials realized the plight of this small village, they decided that one act of mercy the U.S. could do for the villagers was to dig a well in the center of the village to provide clean, fresh, safe water for the people.
After many weeks of planning and working, the village well was finally up and running. Now the women could avoid the dangerous and rigorous trips up the mountain every morning. The villagers welcomed their new well. They gratefully thanked the American soldiers for their efforts.
Six months after the well was working, several soldiers returned to the village to see how the people were getting along. What the soldiers saw was certainly not what they expected. There were the women again — gathering in the center of town with huge pots on their heads and pails in their hands, and preparing to make the difficult journey up the steep hills to the stream to gather water. The soldiers were perplexed. The well was working, and clean, fresh water was being produced every day. Since it was culturally unacceptable for a male to talk to an Afghan woman, the soldiers approached the town’s men with their questions.
“Is the well not working?” they asked through a local man who spoke limited English. “Oh no! The well is working just fine!” the interpreter replied. “It is just that the women missed their time of being together, being away from their husbands and children, and just being with other women of the village … they travel up the steep hill every day to get water because it is their choice. The well is working fine … Thank you! Thank you!”
To these women, the fellowship on the treacherous road up to the well and back, the balancing of heavy pots of water, the sloshing of both pots and pails of water, the rocky terrain, and the hot sun was insignificant in the light of the opportunity for fellowship with one another. This fellowship helped them to face the day, exchange worries and troubles or share news of families.
That story reminds me of fellowship in the church. It is good to listen to sermons on tape or television. My faith is bolstered every time I hear the Gaithers sing the old hymns of my childhood.
Yet face to face fellowshipping with other believers helps us all to the carry the load of life, the emotional pots and pails of troubles and human strivings that seem to slosh out all around our daily walk.
The writer of Hebrews wrote: “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more …” (Hebrews 10: 25)
Matthew Henry in his commentary explains that Christ desires for believers to assemble for fellowship and prayer. Henry says fellowship for teaching and learning brings stability and perseverance for the believer. The result? Our hearts are strengthened and we can go forth and face another day.
Judy Brandon is a Clovis resident. Contact her at: