From a very young age, Jena Lee Nardella displayed an unusual sensitivity toward and compassion for the poor. As she grew older, she became more passionate about forming relationships with poor and marginalized people. The plight of Africans suffering from the pandemic of AIDS caught her attention and she began to shape her college studies toward addressing that issue. A providential meeting got Jena in touch with the rock band Jars of Clay. They shared her passion, and the band's popularity provided a platform through which she could put her passion to work. Together, they formed Blood:Water (http://www.bloodwater.org/), dedicated to providing fresh water in Africa, especially for those suffering from AIDS.
Jena tells her story and the story of Blood:Water in One Thousand Wells: How an Audacious Goal Taught Me to Love the World Instead of Save It. Jena may have been just another idealistic teenager, who turns into an idealistic college kid, who turns into just another clock puncher when reality begins to conflict with idealism. But she was more than idealistic, she was visionary. And she wasn't content with meeting Jars of Clay; she doggedly pursued partnership with them and used their popularity, connections, and fan base to transform her vision into reality.
I was impressed with the wisdom, resourcefulness, and maturity she displayed during the founding of Blood:Water and the early years of the mission. She's very honest about some mistakes she made, as well as about her romantic and personal journey. One Thousand Wells is a great case study in dreaming big and putting feet to the gospel.
Even amidst the "audacious goal" of digging 1000 wells in Africa, Jena never seems to have lost sight of the one-by-one nature of their work. She writes: "The faithful actions of loving one person at a time, working for justice one place at a time, providing water one village at a time--that is how we love the whole world." Amen to that, and more power to Jena and Blood:Water as they continue their important work.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!