UNREACHED

Pitching Hope: Scott Linebrink's Global Water Crusade

October 25, 2023 UNREACHED Season 1 Episode 8
UNREACHED
Pitching Hope: Scott Linebrink's Global Water Crusade
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Imagine a world where clean water is a scarce commodity, where two out of every seven people struggle to access this basic necessity of life. That's the reality Scott Linebrink, a former Major League Baseball player turned humanitarian, grapples with every day in his work with Water Mission. From his first mission trip to Honduras to a life-altering visit to Haiti, we trace Scott's journey from the baseball diamond to the heart of the global water crisis. We unravel the stories of hope and despair that fuel his passion to show God's love by addressing physical needs and making a lasting impact on people's lives.

As we explore Scott's experiences, we journey to refugee settlements in Southeast Africa. There, against a backdrop of heart-wrenching stories, Scott shares the tale of a woman named Esther who nearly took her life after losing everything. But the story doesn't end there; Scott also walks us through the power of collaboration between Water Mission, United Nations, and other NGOs in delivering life-saving aid to these settlements. We also contemplate the potential of mission work, examining the impressive impact of initiatives like Operation Christmas Child, the Global Water Center, and the Strategic Resource Group in reaching unengaged people groups around the globe.

Wrapping up our in-depth conversation, we tackle the notion of impact investing for sustainable water projects. Scott shares insights on how financial stability can motivate adherence to clean water standards and the pivotal role technology plays in measuring project outcomes. We discover how providing access to clean water can be a springboard for other social initiatives such as medical care, education, and housing. Lastly, we delve into Water Mission's three-lane approach to fostering long-term sustainability in poverty-stricken communities. This episode is not just about the power of clean water; it's about faith, community collaboration, and reaching the unreached.

Follow @unreachedpodcast on Instagram for more!

Dustin Elliott:

In Revelation 7, john shares his vision of heaven with members from every tribe, tongue, people and language standing in the throne room before the Lamb. Yet today there are still over 7,000 unreached people groups around the world. For the last six years, my family and friends have been on a journey to find, vet and fund the task remaining. Come journey with us to the ends of the earth as we share the supernatural stories of God at work for the men and women he has called to reach the unreached. Hello friends, welcome back to the Unreached podcast. Dustin Elliott here, your host.

Dustin Elliott:

I was doing some research for this episode because my guest today has a really cool story, a really cool past. We spent 11 years hurling fastballs and sliders in the big leagues and then transitioned post baseball to work with a group called Water Mission. Water Mission goes out and they build these unbelievable water filtration systems and they get clean water where it's not. But how many people don't have access to clean water? And according to Google, on a quick search, 2 billion people Two out of every seven people on earth don't have access to clean water, and so my guest today is Scott Linebrink. Scott, thank you so much for being here. Welcome to the show. Dustin, thank you, it's a real pleasure. I guess when you heard welcome to the show last time, it was a little bit different, though with a bigger contract it was.

Scott Linebrink:

yeah, I didn't usually pay attention to it too long. I just kept my head down, tried to go out and do my job. I didn't pay attention to all the pomp and circumstance around it.

Dustin Elliott:

Obviously not, and you also are a podcaster. You have a podcast called Get in the Game, where you interview other players, mostly that walk with the Lord, and you talk about your faith and their faith and tell us about your show.

Scott Linebrink:

Yeah, so it is. You did a great job promoting it right there. I really enjoy just telling stories, which I think is what we're going to do here today, and I think, from a fan perspective, people really like seeing what's behind the uniform, and there's some guys God's moving in amazing ways through sport and it's really cool to see how God has given passions to players that are doing great things, from anti-trafficking ministries to water, to food, medical ministries, and I've had the privilege of going into the mission field with some of them, and so I love just telling their stories and what they're passionate about. I love that. I love that.

Scott Linebrink:

When did you join Water Mission? Let's see, I've got about a 10-year history with Water Mission. My wife and I were first introduced by our financial advisor and we were just looking for good places to give and to support the kingdom work that was happening. Our financial advisor said, hey, this is a great group, they're doing great work, they're sharing the gospel, they're providing for an immediate need and they're using their funds really efficiently, which is important. We wanted to be wise givers, and so we supported a couple of projects and then we went into the field, and it was that trip to Haiti. That really just turned my life on end. It was at the end of my baseball career. I was actually going back to college here in Austin, at Concordia, to finish my degree. It was that trip that I thought that God was really doing something moving in my heart and wanted me to do something more, and so I went on staff with them. About eight years ago you went to Haiti first.

Dustin Elliott:

Todd Arendt in our first episode talks about the heart can't feel what the eye hasn't seen. Right? Was that your first kind of mission trip going abroad that you had ever taken and, if so, like tell us about that?

Scott Linebrink:

I love that line, first of all. No, and I was thinking about it on the way over here this morning. I had a mission experience before that went to Honduras and it was more of a proclamation trip. We had a medical component to it as well. But you know, there was something that happened on that trip that just kind of disenfranchised me a little bit to missions, to world missions and what that looked like. And I don't want to fault this pastor, but I saw things happening that I thought is that really discipleship? I saw a pastor that was gathering large groups of kids and saying, hey, we're going to pray this sinner's prayer, and the kids knew that there was candy, there was other things that were going to come after that. So they all raised their hand, of course, and they prayed that prayer. But beyond that, I don't know what discipleship looked like and I remember thinking even afterwards what's going to happen to those kids' walk? Who's going to come alongside them? There was no long-term empowerment of the local church, which is what I recognize, having worked with. Water Mission is key to ongoing discipleship and to really spreading authentic faith. So I didn't see any of that and I thought you know, is that really how it's done.

Scott Linebrink:

Fast forward to that trip in Haiti, and I saw something happening first of all, meeting a physical need, which I believe is so important. First you have to show them that you care and then, by developing a relationship, then you get permission to share about your faith, and so I love the permission component of saying you know, now we want to hear why you're here, and now it's so much more readily accepted. And I saw communities being transformed from a physical standpoint. But then also, having a water system right next to a church is a great door opener and people get introduced to the church. They get introduced to what Water Mission is all about, which, of course, is sharing our faith. We believe that everyone has a right to access to safe water and an opportunity to experience God's love, and so this I just saw is something much more organic. I saw it as a way, a point of entry that was going to have a lasting impact.

Dustin Elliott:

I looked up 722 times that water is mentioned in the Bible and if you think about it, it starts on page one in Genesis. Right, you go through the flood with Noah and it's actually mentioned more in the Torah in the first five books of the Bible really than anywhere else, until you get to the Jesus and obviously walking on water and turning water to wine. And I also think of Psalm one. You know the trees planted by a riverbank right bearing fruit each season. Water is all over the Bible and it's all over the world, but it's not all over the world in clean ways for people to drink and to shower and bathe Water. Mission is about getting to those places and bringing these filtration systems. So tell us a little bit about what it is that y'all do from an engineering standpoint. How does it work and how do you decide where?

Scott Linebrink:

to go. So we are an engineering organization and I often get asked oh so you drill wells? Yes, we do. We drill wells. That's just the start of it, though. We have to source the water. Then we take a look at water quality. What's in that water? How does it need to be treated, how can it be stored? So we build large towers and tanks that store the water, and then what does distribution look like? So picture coming into a community of, let's say, 1,000 to 2,000 people, which is a large context of how, where we operate small rural communities.

Scott Linebrink:

A lot of these places have had a well put in. Most of the time, they have a hand pump. So, while that is a stopgap measure, it is something that works for a time. It's providing something more than what they had.

Scott Linebrink:

It's not a completely safe source for water. It's not safe because of the contaminants that are still in that water. It can be contaminated by floodwaters that wash down into the well, and so we need to make sure that we're treating that water with chlorine and making sure that we're storing it properly. A lot of it has to do with teaching and training people how to, how to carry that water, how to transport it how to wash hands, hygiene, training, all of that and then operating and maintaining that system too. We put in a financial model that has the community paying in for the service that that water system is providing, and then the community can use those funds to pay down for the depreciation of capital infrastructure. So all of this is part of again that long term sustainability that we're after. We're after decades and generations, not just a year and a half, which is the typical shelf life of a hand pump in Africa, which is unfortunate.

Dustin Elliott:

A year and a half A year and a half, 18 to 24 months. Wow, I didn't realize that.

Scott Linebrink:

Yeah, so, yeah. So there's a lot of work that has to be done. Obviously, that takes time and we do a lot of community development work on the front end and the back end to ensure that one we've explained the project well and what the community's role in this project moving forward is, and then on the back end, making sure that we're following up and supporting them. We also do remote monitoring, which is big. What that does is, basically it allows us to track every project anywhere in the world that we implement. We can look at flow rates, we can look at water quality all from a satellite signal. Wow, so now we know that that system is functioning or we know if it's not functioning, we can measure uptime how much that system is actually functioning and providing water. And that all goes to reliability, and if the people trust the system, they trust what's in the water, then they're going to use it.

Dustin Elliott:

Where have you been most recently? Tell us about some of the places you've gone over the last couple of years.

Scott Linebrink:

Yeah, Well, COVID kind of took a hit on the mission field. We were shut down there for a little bit. This last year I was in Mexico. I'm leading another trip to Mexico in October. We've got a group of baseball players actually former ball players that have been very supportive of the work down there.

Scott Linebrink:

What's really cool is these guys are from Mexico, so not only do they speak the language, they understand the culture. In some respects. They grew up with a front row seat to the global water crisis, and so to see them go down there of course these are men of faith too, and so we just give them a microphone. They're speaking in their native tongue and there's probably no greater outreach than what can happen with these guys just talking about why they're there, the fact that they would go embark on a major league career and have all the success and fame and yet humble themselves to come back and be a part of that community and talk about the living water message of Jesus Christ that's just extremely powerful. I'm the lone gringo down there and I just catch a few words in my broken Spanish, but I know that there's hearts being moved because of those guys.

Dustin Elliott:

I love that when we were getting ready for this, you gave me some other kind of talking points. Let's go to Southeast Africa, let's spend a little time there. That was one of your bullet points here. Tell us about the project there.

Scott Linebrink:

So we were in Southeast Africa, uganda, back in 2019. This was right before COVID and took again a handful of ball players over there. We actually were privileged to go into some of these refugee settlement areas and when I think about the stories and we talk about the work being done, some of my favorite stories come from that trip One. It was my first trip to Africa, so it was an amazing experience. But walking into a refugee settlement I had been I had a lot of people tell me you won't be able to prepare yourself for what you're going to see, and they were exactly right.

Scott Linebrink:

A refugee settlement is a place of despair. I mean, there's not. You basically picture people that have been forced out of their country. They've experienced violence, persecution. A lot of them have lost family members.

Scott Linebrink:

I remember one lady in particular. Her name was Esther. She said her whole clan had been killed. It was only her, her husband and her husband's sister that had survived from over 30 people, and this was from the Civil War in South Sudan, and they were forced to walk weeks through the African wilderness and were finally picked up by the UN, taken by bus to this refugee settlement and now they're basically given some building materials to build a tent, and they are provided some rations for food, and that's where we were putting in these massive water systems, because these settlement areas are 150,000 people in some cases.

Scott Linebrink:

And so you're walking through a city that basically popped up with no kind of permanent infrastructure You've got dirt roads and tents, and then you see these massive towers with these shiny water tanks and it just it almost looks out of place.

Scott Linebrink:

But you go to one of these tap stands, these locations where people can come and access water, and you just see it as a source of life, because people are just lined up there.

Scott Linebrink:

And then you hear about the messages that they're hearing from local churches that are popping up and helping to share the Bible. And you got to understand too, dustin, that South Sudan is a Muslim country and so when they come over to Uganda, they are friendly to Christianity, but a lot of them have not been exposed to the Bible and a lot of them don't have a lot of knowledge of the Koran either. So, to think about this might be the first time that they're getting to hear messages of hope, and we do something called trauma healing there, which is a very special program that basically addresses the trauma that they've been through and talks about reconciliation, talks about forgiveness, and Esther told us that Revelation 21.4 was a verse that really spoke to her, that God will wipe away every tear, and she talked about how that experience of losing her family had brought her to a place of despair where she was contemplating suicide, and it was actually the trauma healing course that brought her through that and gave her hope.

Dustin Elliott:

You know, you think when you've lost everyone. You know your way of life, your clan, your family. You've walked for weeks, you've been picked up, you've been taken to another country and you're there. You're surrounded by other people who are dealing with very similar circumstances and have somebody come in with this message of hope and this concept of every tear being wiped away, because you can't probably imagine the amount of tears that have been shed. Man, that's just that's beautiful to think about. But it's also Something we learned on another episode. How long does a does a camp typically last? A refugee camp?

Scott Linebrink:

This is the crazy thing, dustin the average person spends 17 years in refugee camp. Unbelievable, unbelievable.

Dustin Elliott:

It's not like they're there for a short time and they figure out a way to get out, like once they're there. Unfortunately, the way that I don't want to call it the system that's the bad way to say it, but just the way that it ends up happening they, they spend a lot of time there. I mean, it's either grace of God that water mission and Samaritan's purse and other Christian organizations are able to get to some of these places, because you may not have access as a typical you know missionary would otherwise. But you're bringing true resources that are needed. But you're working with other NGOs and organizations like the UN, and it's this massive Collaborative effort. How does, how does that work when you're in the camp? Who you see, the other workers working, you're, you're visiting, you're getting to know each other. Like, what's the coordination like?

Scott Linebrink:

There is a lot of coordination. Matter of fact, when we went there, we actually got to sit down with someone from the UN office inside one of those refugee settlements and he basically gave us the the roadmap, the picture of what that looked like for aid groups coming in. What he told us I still remember this when that crisis started back in 2014 and, granted, we're there five years later, in 2014, there was 16 wash related and washes an acronym that we use for water, sanitation and hygiene and it was 16 groups, and these are massive groups, some bigger than us, some smaller than us, but you talk about providing water, for that camp in particular was almost 250,000 people. The second largest camp in the world. Bdbd and 16 organizations doesn't sound like a lot for Providing, you know, that kind of infrastructure for that many people. At the time of of our visit, there were only four left five years later, and so he gave a Impassioned plea to us. He said please keep doing what you're doing. We need you to do more Well.

Scott Linebrink:

Un is not able to provide the resources that they were providing at the beginning because their interests get diverted, and so there is an extreme need for partnership. Water mission is not going to solve the global water crisis on our own and we need good partners. We need partners like the ones that you mentioned to to come together in the link arms. And I look what happened, what has happened recently in the Bible translation movement, in groups like Wickliffe and seed company Coming together and saying, hey, we are going to take this thing down, we're gonna bring God's word to the world by 2033. I love that vision and our CEO says all the time we can end the global water crisis. We can do it.

Dustin Elliott:

And that doesn't mean water mission, that means we as a people as a church exactly, and obviously what happens and what's been happening for Decades and centuries really is you have a lot of organizations that are doing good, but they're running parallel and they're not talking to each other, right. So they're running alongside and they a lot of times You're working in the same people groups. Some may already have a lot of translation done and another group's working on it, right, and they don't realize that that's already happened. So the coordination of this effort and bringing people together is so critical. But it's happening. A lot of it, because of technology, is happening now more than it ever has.

Dustin Elliott:

I was on the phone with a lady that leads the UPG efforts for sRG strategic resource group, because we're gonna have her on on a show soon and they have a goal of reaching a thousand UPGs just through Translation. So they're just doing translation hyperdrive, right, they're going full-on. Operation Christmas Childless Samaritan's Purse has a goal reaching a thousand. You start to see that coordinated effort. Well, hey, there's seven thousand left Right and seven hundred unengaged left. We start to see a real possibility here of Significant progress in our lifetimes.

Scott Linebrink:

Yeah, I you know I've got a passion for Bible translation, bible distribution, and I know you and I have talked about that. One of the most powerful things for me was going to the Museum of the Bible in Washington DC and walking in that library that they have and They've got all the languages that have been translated in the Bible in different colored books. There's yellow books for the ones that are in progress and there's red books for the ones that have yet to be translated. Of course, the majority of that library is full of red books and you think about wow, we got a lot of work to do. There's over five thousand languages, heart languages that have yet to be translated. So let's get to work.

Scott Linebrink:

But you know, again thinking about how does that work happen? To your point, it only happens through strategic coordination, through agreement of standards, which is the same thing that we want is water mission. Matter of fact, the founder of water mission has started another organization called the global water center with that exact idea in mind. How can we convene other wash related organizations that are also doing good work To come together and agree upon the standards of how do we do a water project and then where are we gonna go and how do we scale the resources so that we can get this?

Dustin Elliott:

done. I love that when we're talking about translation, we're talking about getting the Bible in a heart language, because just going and telling someone about the Lord is very important, no doubt. But it's a step one and there's a lot of steps behind it and, of course, we've developed that within reach scale that a lot of you have heard about. But if you go to blessed out world and you look on our website, you can see the scale of how do you reach it on reach people group. Another thing We've talked about and we'll continue to talk about is this concept of biblical ministry and biblical missions. Right, biblical ministry I would define as a lot of what water missions doing in terms of you're getting into a hard to reach place, crossing hostile borders to Christianity because of your expertise and your engineering skill and bringing a critical need like clean water. Right, and you think about Operation Christmas Child with Samaritan's Purse. They're gonna get into places like that as well because of what they're doing for the kids and bringing the joy and the excitement of those boxes. Right. But what happens after? That is where the coordination excites me, because after that, now you've got access, you're in, now trained in equipped teams that are ready to go and live among a People group for 10 or 20 years and go through the motions of reaching that group and making disciples of all nations right. They get to stand on your shoulders.

Dustin Elliott:

Now. I don't want to just say your only short term, because you're not. You're going in and you're putting the system in and now you're Monitoring it. You're going back and fixing it when it's wrong and, of course, you're probably getting introduced to. Oh, here's another spot over here. That'd be a good place for one right. So what is like? I'm just curious, what is the backlog of opportunity like? Like if, if, if funding wasn't a problem, if I could give you a billion dollar check, how many projects would get would get going right now that y'all are ready to do.

Scott Linebrink:

Yeah, so there's a lot of logistics that go to that, as obviously as you can imagine. I know at one point and I know this number is probably much higher now, but we had over 600 projects in the queue, oh my gosh and and again. You know, to your point.

Dustin Elliott:

Representing millions of people that don't have clean water right now. Yeah, I don't know millions.

Scott Linebrink:

I mean, yeah, probably. So, probably millions, yeah, but yeah, you're right, I mean, it's, the limiting factor often is funding for these, but you need to scale in a lot of areas to make that kind of work happen. And so, again, going back to the global water center, and one of the things that we've thought about is how can we use money as the driver, as an incentive for people to say hey, if you adhere to these standards, if you will not just put in that shallow well and that hand pump, but you'll actually do a solar pump and a deep water well with filtration, with Distribution, with a plan for long-term sustainability right, there's funding available for you. And I think, from an impact investment I know you know I've talked about this too no doubt people want impact and they want to know that what they're investing in is not Just a band-aid but something that's working long because a hand pump at 18 to 24 months is a band-aid and I don't think a lot of us have ever thought about that.

Dustin Elliott:

You know, the first, the first, one of the first projects that we find it with bless in 2017 was we dug 21 wells in South Sudan and Uganda and I I think if I go visit with Heath and Tabby and Jonathan and the board and share that stat, we're all gonna be surprised that we'll find out.

Scott Linebrink:

Probably some of our wells aren't producing anymore and I hadn't thought about that and I think a lot of people you know from a business standpoint, you know we want to invest in things that last we can through our remote monitoring platform that I mentioned earlier, we can give you those statistics. We can give you solid metrics to say this is how much that water system is producing and when it doesn't produce. We know that we've got a plan of attack so that we can get in there and get it fixed and get it back up.

Dustin Elliott:

Because imagine coming in and getting the well-going everybody's excited, now They've got access to some water. Then what we would typically do is, you know, build a school and a church and, hopefully, get a pastor there and get it some education there, and then you start to have some community and some Some commerce right for the, for the people. But I just think now about these wells that aren't producing anymore and it's just like it's got to be, just like a solemn statue of what was once a great promise. And the difference is obviously there is living water that never runs dry and that's the relationship with Jesus. But to get them to keep coming back and participating in that school and that church and things that are going on there, yeah, I think we need to check up on the projects that we've done. I may have to call you in and say, hey, we got a couple over here that aren't working anymore. Let's go fix them.

Scott Linebrink:

Well, and I think we need to be careful too, Dustin, to not cast shade on well-intentioned folks that are out there providing a service for people. I think there's just more that we can do too. There's more to excellence when we talk about the excellence of a project and looking not just at the most basic infrastructure that we can put in. But what would we want here in the United States, what would we want in some of these rural communities? What's the quality of water that I want my kid to drink? Yeah, no doubt we want what's best for them, and by doing that quality work, then it gives Christianity a better name too.

Scott Linebrink:

And I mentioned in that email to you. There's a Bible verse that we often quote, Proverbs 22-29, that says a man who is skilled in his work will stand before kings. And when I think about the work that we've been able to do with countries, country-level parliaments that have endorsed our work in places like Tanzania, and working with a UN, a secular organization, they come to us because we can do water projects really well, not because we're a Christian organization, and so when we can back up what we say and we're people of integrity, then it makes them want to work with us and guess what they get to see that there's something more to this than just the physical aspect too.

Dustin Elliott:

Oh, no doubt, Give your quote about engineers. I don't want to take it from you.

Scott Linebrink:

Yeah, I was looking for a place to put it in because you said that a couple of times but I love it it's.

Scott Linebrink:

You know, engineers can go places that missionaries can't go sometimes because we do get invited in, because they say hey, you guys are really good at what you do, we love the systems that you put in. You've got a track record. There's precedence for what you've done. We want that here too. And back to your question about how do you decide where to go. You know, oftentimes we do a project and there's a neighboring community that sees, that sees the benefit, has maybe a family member or friend living in that community and they say we want that too. Everybody that sees these projects. I think it's safe to say they want it, they want to live an abundant life, they want to experience. You know some of the opportunities. And with a water project, you know. I'll go back to why we first got involved.

Scott Linebrink:

That trip to Haiti, there were so many ripple effects that we saw from a water project. If you can fix the water and the sanitation issue, which is so foundational now you can start talking about all right, how do we address the medical issue? How do we build a hospital? Let's build schools, let's put in feeding programs, housing programs. All of this helps the economy, because you got to think that people are not. If they're not sick, they can go to work, they can go to school. So much of the cycle of poverty begins with water, because it hampers every aspect after that. So if you can fix the water and the sanitation problem now, you can give them a leg up toward every other social initiative I love that Another bullet point you brought up was disaster response.

Dustin Elliott:

I mean so you've got 600 or maybe more in this in this queue, in this backlog, but as you're getting ready to go do one or two of those, then something massive happens, like one of the ones you mentioned here is the flooding in Pakistan last summer. Tell us about how water mission can address a disaster area.

Scott Linebrink:

So that's a different model. When we talk about and we've talked about the refugee projects and the community development projects, the disaster project is kind of a third, completely different scenario than those other two. It's really about getting in quickly. Of course you've got to mobilize equipment and staff to get in there and recognize where the problem areas are. Where can we put in a system that can address a lot of people? So we go to population centers, but if there's a refugee camp popping up, like in the case of Pakistan, there was a lot of camps from people that were displaced.

Scott Linebrink:

Over half of the landmass of Pakistan was underwater. I mean it was. And here's the thing too that gets me is we don't see a lot of this stuff because our news is focused on other areas. But when you think about what's actually happening around the world, we miss out on a lot of what's happening. And I've got a unique perspective from seeing what's really happening. And in Pakistan it was just a complete disaster. So people were displaced from their homes. They're living in camps. So we were going to those camps and providing water, but we're trying to get it in as quickly as possible. So it looks a little different in terms of, maybe instead of solar power. Now we're going to use a generator Instead of a water tank and tower. Like I mentioned, it might be a temporary bladder, but all of these projects can eventually transition into more long term infrastructure like in those community development projects.

Scott Linebrink:

But for right now we got to get as much water as we can to as many people as we can.

Dustin Elliott:

So a lot of the other guests we talked about and people will hear this as a theme, but the Big Sea Church, the global church and then I'm sure water mission will agree with this too. When you go in there, you are likely seeking out the local churches to partner with. Right. You're looking for the local leadership, the pastors, right, and you're partnering with them on the delivery and they're getting the word out and what we're doing with the water.

Scott Linebrink:

You're absolutely right, local leadership is key.

Scott Linebrink:

One of the things that I've learned and how we developed our model was largely came from a book called when Helping Hurts, and what I have learned is that poverty is really the result of broken relationships, and that book identifies four main broken relationships.

Scott Linebrink:

And so you're really not going to solve the problem, you're just going to treat the symptoms unless you really get to the root of the issue. So identifying local leadership is key, because some of those broken relationships are man's broken relationship with his community, with his environment, with God, with himself. And so identifying each of those key areas and we can do that actually with a survey that we administer on the front end, where we come in and we gather baseline data from something we call the Restore Survey. It's a 66 question survey, it's given four answers to 66 questions, and basically from that survey that we administer widely throughout that community, we can identify where are those broken areas, where are those broken relationships and how can we tailor, make our plan for restoring based around what's needed, because sometimes it is a leadership problem, sometimes it's an environmental problem. So unless you identify that, you really can't develop a proper solution, absolutely.

Dustin Elliott:

You told me that there was a story from a community in Pakistan, right, that came to know the Lord. Can you tell us?

Scott Linebrink:

that story? Yeah, and we had worked with a local church. We only sent over a handful of staff and so we were largely dependent upon people that were on the ground and that's typically the case in the outset of any disaster response. And so we came in and we were having to mobilize equipment to some really hard to reach areas and we were literally walking equipment overland to get to this one spot and this community. Because of the multiple trips that these people made to bring our staff and our contractors that were bringing equipment in, they were blown away. Why would you risk?

Dustin Elliott:

your lives. Yeah, no doubt.

Scott Linebrink:

And so, through the process of that relationship building, we were able to tell them this is why we do what we do, and they said we want to be baptized, we want to follow the same guy that you do. Let's go. It was really neat.

Dustin Elliott:

That's fantastic. I love that and just seeing that as that community, these outsiders coming in and they're walking, the equipment and they're carrying it, they're going back and forth the consistency of the walk. Then why are you doing it? This is why, and, of course, water missions doing this. We talk about this a lot too. The exact way Jesus modeled. How do you go about this? You address a physical need and the spiritual need right. You do both. You use one to get to the other, but you have to have both. Right, because what good does it do to give somebody water for a little while here? But they don't understand the concept of living water and eternal water.

Scott Linebrink:

Yeah, dustin, just this morning I was in Mark and I was reading about how Jesus healed the deaf and mute man and I was thinking to myself that was an incredibly intimate interaction. Jesus reached in the man's ears, he reached in his mouth, he touched him. I can imagine someone that I didn't know well coming up and doing that. It would probably give me pause and shock me a little bit. But seeing how he freed this man from bondage that he had been in his whole life, and seeing how intimate that interaction was and then that was just the first step and then he led him to the reason for hope. And so many times throughout the Bible there's so many instances like that, where he touches them, he heals them, he addresses their physical need first and then again, he has the permission to do that because he has shown that he cares for them.

Dustin Elliott:

Yeah, I loved that we were in Mark last week I think you're talking about Mark 10 and I believe that guy's name is Bartimaeus.

Scott Linebrink:

Yeah, Brian.

Dustin Elliott:

Bartimaeus, that's right. That's right. Well, thanks for sharing that. There's another thing we were going to hit on today about your living water initiative. It seems like a good little segue here. Let's talk about that.

Scott Linebrink:

Yeah, so living water is basically just anything gospel outreach that we do and we've really taken intentional steps to make this program something.

Scott Linebrink:

That is, you can't systematize the gospel right, but you can be very intentional about how you share it and at what points you share it.

Scott Linebrink:

And so when you look at our water project I was looking at this just yesterday when I was on the phone with somebody, our living water director was explaining this and we have a flow chart.

Scott Linebrink:

Every step of that water project has basically a box and so we check that box before we move to the next box. We're engineers, we're process-oriented, we don't take any, we don't skip any steps because there's a model that works and so we follow it. So in the same way, we can come along and we can put another lane down below that water project and we can say there's intentional steps that we can take to empower the local church, to mobilize the community, to introduce them to the living water message of Jesus Christ. And so we do that right alongside the same steps that we're taking to make a water project successful. So it's really cool. You mentioned how many times water is mentioned in the Bible and it's really cool to see how that coincides with some of this engineering work that we're doing too, and by the end of it we feel really good about how we have opened the gospel to a lot of different doors.

Dustin Elliott:

And what's fascinating is when you think water mission and you just think about where we're talking about mostly today, which is the engineering component and the system itself. But in the living water program, within water mission, you are actually training pastors, you're actually doing equipping marriage ministries, you're doing seminars, you're distributing audio Bibles in the heart language. There's so much more going on with water mission than just water bud.

Scott Linebrink:

Oh, yeah, well, you think about kind of our three lanes. I talked about the three scenarios that we work in. You can divide up water mission staff into three areas. One would be the technical side, the engineers, the guys that are doing the construction, bricks and mortar. Then there's what we would call kind of the social work, the community development people. They're the ones that are teaching and training. Teaching the safe water committee that will manage that water system, teaching at schools, hand washing and hygiene.

Scott Linebrink:

But then there's that third component, which is our living water staff, and so this is dedicated staff that's working right alongside the local church, because at the center of all of this is the local church you mentioned. We're not a short-term organization, but we do have a finite amount of time that we're spending in each community. Right, it's usually 12 to 18 months. So when we leave there, we've got to leave behind a better church, because the church is the one that's going to disciple these people. And so how can we provide that training, the curriculum, the hard resources that they can then take and share with the rest of the community?

Dustin Elliott:

You have a story from Honduras that you want to share?

Scott Linebrink:

Yeah, it's similar to that story that you talked about from Pakistan, but again, this was after that trip that I went on to Haiti. So that was really my first bird's-eye view of water mission at work in communities in Haiti. And then, a year later, I was about to finish up college and I was really giving thought to what I was going to do with the next chapter of my life. I was in my late 30s and thinking about what does God have for me? It was really neat that I was there with the founder of the organization, george Green, and I remember being in the back of the van bouncing down a dusty road in Honduras. He really put the question to me what do you want to do? And I really started wrestling with that.

Scott Linebrink:

But also on that trip, we were in a community and we were building latrines. We often talk about the water, but the sanitation side is very important too. So when we do a water project, we often come in and do sanitation too, which is building household latrines, which is a much more laborious project. You have to go one at a time. Really, it takes three days on average to build one of those latrines. We had the benefit of building one of those and we're working right alongside the members of this house.

Scott Linebrink:

And so one gentleman was talking to me and he kept asking me a bunch of questions about the latrine, how it works, and then he started asking organizational questions when are you from? And I remember at one point he said you're from the United States. You guys have all the money in the world. Why would you want to come down here to Honduras? And basically what he was driving at is what's in it for you? Because there's no way that people come down here just out of the good of their own hearts. There's got to be something for you.

Scott Linebrink:

And I thought about that and I looked at him and I said you know what there is. I said Jesus loves me and Jesus has done a work in my heart and I want you to have that same joy and peace in your heart. And so I'm here because Jesus loves me. And it sounded very simple, but I saw a difference in the way that he took that answer. It was like okay, now it's starting to make sense. And I don't know, you know that was a seed planted. I don't know what happened, I don't know where he was at in his spiritual walk. But I thought about that time that many times afterwards and I thought you know, that's what it is right there it's spending time with people, it's waiting for that opportunity for him to ask and then just sharing a very simple answer. And you know, we were supposed to have faith like a child and there's a lot of things that I can't explain, but I can talk about the goodness and the ways that God has worked in my life and I can share that with others.

Dustin Elliott:

I think a lot of times people are scared. We have a worry that we're going to get it wrong if someone asks us about the Bible or asks us about the gospel, right, so we don't say something. The fact is, if God's done a work in your life, you're walking with the Lord, the Holy Spirit's inside you, you're equipped, you're ready. Just tell them your story. Just tell them who you were and who you are right and what's happened. I mean, I just want to encourage anybody that's hearing this, like that's okay, just to tell your story. And if it's compelling and of course it will be and they're interested in, of course they will be then the next steps that's God's work. The next steps right, you're just here to be faithful, you're here to tell your story, and that's what this whole podcast is about. I think everybody's starting to hopefully get it by now.

Dustin Elliott:

But there are these incredible stories going on around the world. We're talking about a whole country, pakistan, half underwater. I didn't see that on the news. I don't watch the news very often for reasons because I don't really care to see what they do think I need to see on the news. But the fact is there's so many great stories that we're not getting back over here Even someone that's going to church, you know three and a half Sundays a month and they're sitting there on Sunday morning. Your pastor is likely walking through the Bible, but it's very, not very often that you're getting stories from the missionary, a story from the field that your church is supporting. It's just critical that we give a platform, I think, just like you're doing with your podcast, like we're trying to do here, a platform for the stories of what God's doing, the supernatural stories he's pulling off through the men and women he's called to reach the unreached right.

Scott Linebrink:

Yeah, dustin, I felt like you mentioned earlier about not really knowing what to say. Or am I saying this wrong? Or, you know, if somebody asked me a tough question about the Bible, will I be able to defend it. And I think what I've learned is you know, these stories that God gives us over the course of our life are given to us for a reason and he wants us to tell them, and not so that we look good or so that we can elevate ourselves, so we can glorify him. But I've learned more and more just to rely on the Holy Spirit, like you were mentioning earlier. And just Holy Spirit.

Scott Linebrink:

Where do you want me to go? Who is it that you've picked out for me to maybe impact with my story and how can I tell that? And I love that verse that talks about how the good works that God has for us have been planned in advance since the foundation of the world. That's right. And to think about wow, I mean that interaction with that guy from Honduras that was planned back when the spirit breathed upon the waters when he created the world. And to think about that's been sitting there waiting for me to discover this whole time. And what else has God had out there for me to discover.

Dustin Elliott:

Oh no, and think about us. Right, you record a great episode with somebody and you can't wait for that episode to drop, but it's a month out or six weeks out, I don't know how far ahead of your schedule. And Clint and I were talking this morning because Austin Ridge Worship is putting out a record right now and every song they're so careful and intentional, right to get all the right musicians on it, get it cut, get it ready, get it mastered, just right. But he was playing a couple of the ones that aren't dropped yet for me this morning and just to see the anticipation of how excited we are for this things to happen. And yet it's not surprising God at all. Right, he's in time and on time all the time.

Scott Linebrink:

That's right, and I think about when Jesus talks about how take my burden upon you. My yoke is light, and I think about what that really looks like. I remember doing a Bible study one time and talking about how they would yoke a young bull to an older bull or an ox, and the older one basically took the brunt of that weight. The yoke was just meant to keep that young ox or bull right next to him because he would have a tendency to run off and lose track of what he's doing. And so I think about. You know, I'm the young bull and I'm yoke to Jesus. Jesus is the one taking all of the weight and all he asked me to do is follow along beside him.

Dustin Elliott:

I love that. Let's talk about how, if someone's hearing this and they're like you know what I need to be doing more. I need to be helping out, I need to be a part of this and, man, I can't think of a better way to bridge the gospel than to bring clean water and come alongside Watermission, watermissionorg. But tell us how can people partner and what's that look like?

Scott Linebrink:

Yeah, I often tell people there's kind of four main areas you can give. Of course, the work that we do happens because we are a nonprofit and because we've got some incredible partners that support us by that ministry of biblical stewardship. And so, like I mentioned, that's how my family and I started, because we love the. From an investment perspective. It was a good investment and the funds being used were being used well. This last year we had 88% of our funding go directly to programming, so very little overhead in terms of fundraising and administrative fees.

Scott Linebrink:

So what you're actually investing in is providing safe and living water for people, and we love that. You can go. You can go on a trip and just like we did. I mean, I'm kind of mirroring my experience in this, but giving first and then going, and it doesn't have to happen in this order, but going on that trip to Haiti opened my eyes and opened my heart and made it made me wanna be a bigger part of this Praying with us. We need prayer warriors out there. I wanna tell a story about that, but I'll finish this thought Praying for us. I know that things are happening because we have people praying for us.

Dustin Elliott:

Amen.

Scott Linebrink:

And then telling others what we're doing right here on this podcast. I really appreciate the opportunity to use this platform to tell others about water mission, about the global water crisis, about living water, about what's possible out there, and invite others into that story. So, if we can create more advocates, advocates are what are gonna create more advocates, and that's just a multiplication factor that we hope ends up in so many people getting involved in this Amen. Well, back to prayer. If I can share that story, come on, let's go. So several years ago, I think I'd just come to work at water mission, and there was that crisis in I forget if it was Burundi or South Sudan, but it was something that was forcing people across the border and we were trying to get equipment in country really quick and set it up as quickly as we could, and we had, like I'm talking, six or seven 18 wheeler loads full of equipment that we were trying to get across the border into Tanzania.

Scott Linebrink:

We got stuck at the border and there was one particular customs agent that was holding up this shipment and there was an obvious reason he wanted to benefit from that personally, from financially. And we don't bribe, we follow the rules, we get in country legally and we believe that bribes are gonna lead to a totally different way. That Compromise witness yeah, exactly, no doubt, and it compromises our integrity, so we just don't do it. So, basically, we were stuck at the border and we couldn't get in and we had all these people that were waiting on us and depending on us. And I remember our country program director, Will he. Every morning in Huddle we have a staff devotion and we often pray. And this was in the early days where we only had a few handfuls of employees and I happened to be in Charleston this particular time. And we're circled up and Will said I wanna pray right now and I wanna ask that God would change the heart of this customs agent. And in all honesty, I was thinking of a different prayer.

Scott Linebrink:

It was like a calculated strike right there, yeah, lightning strike or something like that, just to remove this guy, because we need to get in there and do the work. But we prayed for this gentleman individually and we prayed that he would see what was at stake here and that God would change his heart. And 24 hours later we came back and we're at Huddle the next morning and Will, with tears in his eyes, is saying I can't believe it. God literally changed this man's heart. He answered our prayer and he turned that man's heart and he basically repented, openly repented, and said I'm sorry, I was wrong. I was wrong with me to hold up what you guys are doing.

Scott Linebrink:

You go right ahead and bless your journey, and so that's a great example. I love to tell that story because that huge project we're talking hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of equipment that never would have made it to its destination had it not been for that prayer.

Dustin Elliott:

I love that. Scott, you've been fantastic. My man, you are clearly a very sharp guy, a lot more than a good curveball. But hey, man, to wrap things up, scott Linebrink water mission, would you mind praying for everybody listening today on our way out Would love.

Scott Linebrink:

that, yeah, thank you, dustin, god in heaven. Thank you for the time spent here, Thank you for our time on earth and the way that you use each one of us. You've uniquely gifted us to be an instrument of your love and I pray that for those in this room and for those listening on this podcast, that we would all lean into exactly what you have created us to do and that, moment by moment, we would hear from your Holy Spirit about the good works that you have planned for us and that we would seek those out with all of our efforts, with all of our heart, with all of our mind, with all of our soul and with all of our strength. And we pray your blessings upon us this day, and we pray blessings upon the growth of your kingdom, and may the unreached be reached and hear about the love of Jesus Christ.

Dustin Elliott:

In his name, we pray amen, amen, amen, amen, because every one of us has a unique combination of time, talent and treasure and we all have a role to play, so get in the game. Thank you for listening to Unreached. Our sincere desire is that what you've heard today will cause you to see the mission of God differently and you're rolling it more clearly. If this adds value for you and we hope it does would you please rate and review the podcast wherever you listen. Also, share with your family, your friends, your church, your life group, small group, d group, wherever you do life, and if you wanna connect with us, find us on Instagram at unreachedpodcast, or email us at unreachedpodcastcom.

Water Mission
Refugee Settlements and Providing Hope
Coordination and Possibility in Mission Work
Impact Investing for Sustainable Water Projects
Water Projects
Water Mission
Ending Prayer and Call to Action