One man’s summer vacation of a lifetime (Sun-Times Media)

by Emily McFarlan Miller

Like John Piper said when introducing the story of Ian and Larissa Murphy on the Desiring God blog,  “I tremble with the glad responsibility of introducing you” to Joseph Onesimus. It’s not often I share a story in the newspaper in which Christ is so central, but He is so central to Onesimus’ story, there was no other way to tell it. I hope his story finds you in whatever suffering, whatever sacrifices you are making, and I hope it moves and encourages you as it did me.

ELGIN — Joseph Onesimus has paid a steep price to bring a clean water source to his home village in Mbooni, Kenya.

It has cost Onesimus money, for sure, to fly back and forth between the African country and his current home in Plato Center.

It also has cost him time, taking months off from his job as an adjunct instructor of business at Elgin Community College to oversee the work in Kenya. And it has cost him his marriage: He now is going through a divorce, he said, because his wife didn’t have the same vision and because he was out of the country three months at a time.

But by the end of the summer, he said, 5,000 villagers in Mbooni will have access to clean water.

And that means no one will have to pay the same price his sister Esther Mueni Mativo did in 2004: her life.

“It’s a sacrifice for me, but you know what the funny thing is? I’ve never lacked,” Onesimus said.

“We’re here a short time, and we have to leave a legacy. If that doesn’t bring people closer to God and solve their human problems, I think that’s missing the point. How much money do you really need?”

The community college instructor, who also imports and sells art and tea from Africa, will fly to Kenya Tuesday, May 29, and arrive in the country late Thursday night, an expensive, 18-hour trip he usually makes every other year, he said.

Onesimus was born in Kenya, the oldest of five children of parents who were missionaries in Somalia. It was tough growing us as a “missionary kid,” always moving from one place to another, leaving behind friends and changing schools, but it was “eye-opening,” he said.

And, he said, it meant growing up “in a family that always gives.”

The water-producing borehole was the vision of his father, the Rev. Onesimus Mativo, the instructor said.

For the rest of the story, read One man’s summer vacation of a lifetime (Sun-Times Media).

For more information about how you can help, read How you can help Living Waters Borehole in Kenya (Between the Bylines).

Photo credit: Submitted photo.