By Mark Alexander
Editor’s note: This is one in a series of PE News articles on people in the Assemblies of God under the age of 20 who are making an impact in their communities. Mark Alexander is an Assemblies of God World Missions missionary working with the Africa Oasis Project.
Ten-year-old Ava Heath of Longview, Oregon, says she took water for granted until a few months ago, when she watched a video about two little girls from the Republic of the Congo, who were adopted by an Oregon family.
Though the African girls were offered dolls and iPhones, they instead kept clinging to their prized empty water bottles.
“All they wanted was the water,” observed Ava. “They didn’t want anything else.”
The two newly adopted girls had never experienced the blessing of bountiful clean water. In their country, more than 37 million people don’t have access to safe water.
Ava decided she wanted to help children in Africa have potable and plentiful water.
“This is the day God told me to build a well,” Ava wrote in her journal on March 5, 2016.
Ava’s pastor told her about the Africa Oasis Project, a water initiative of Assemblies of God World Missions. Ava got excited and expressed a desire to raise the $12,000 needed to drill a well in Africa.
Rather than discourage her with the enormity of the task, her pastor, Steve Berry of Alston’s Corner Assembly of God in Rainier, and her mother, Amanda Richardson, told Ava to pray, dream, and work to see what God would do.
With the prayerful support of Alston’s Corner AG — a congregation of less than 100 regular attendees — Ava began to talk to everyone she could about Africa’s drastic need for clean water and for Jesus. Ava spoke in other churches, talked to home school chapels and business owners, operated a lemonade stand, and shared her burden on social media.
One of Ava’s largest fundraising endeavors was a taco soup supper and auction. Alston’s Corner AG hosted the productive event.
God blessed Ava’s prayers, heart, tenacity and drive. In only six months, $12,500 had been raised. With this gift, the Africa Oasis Project will be able to drill a well “in a village, by a church, for children in Africa,” just as Ava dreamed.
Ava’s vision will forever impact a village in Africa. It also has inspired those in the church she attends and the town of 1,920 people where she lives, bringing strangers together and opening the eyes of many to the blessing it is to have clean water to drink.
When she is older, Ava says, she wants to be a missionary in Africa and go see her well.“If anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones…that person will certainly not lose their reward” (Matthew 10:42, NIV)