If you were asked where in the world you’d like to go to fulfill your life’s dream, would Darfur be your choice? Probably not. In fact, Darfu would probably be near, if not at, the end of your list. But it was the choice of Doc Hendley: pastor’s kid, Harley-lover, hard drinker and bartender.
When I go to the library, something I do with regularity, I always peruse the shelves of new non-fiction that I pass on my way to the “New Mysteries” shelf. Every so often I find something that looks fascinating and grab it to put in my bag of books. My latest find was Wine to Water, by Doc Hendley and it was fascinating.
The subtitle of Wine to Water, A Bartender’s Quest to Bring Clean Water to the World, sounds like rather an ambitious undertaking, wouldn’t you say? However, after reading this all in one gulp (and staying awake way to far into the reaches of the night to do so), I can tell you that Doc did an amazing job of trying to fulfill that ambition.
If you like dry academic writing or high-highfalutin’ language, you won’t enjoy this book. Doc wrote the book himself and it’s redolent with his down-home speech and attitudes. Although Doc grew up in a Christian family with a pastor for a father and a loving family, he was anything but a stereotypical pastor’s kid. He loved his family, but wasn’t the poster boy for the Christian young adult group. However one night, after delivering a puppy to a friend of his mother’s and spending time talking with her, listening to her stories about her husband’s humanitarian work all over the world for Samaritan’s Purse, he woke up in the middle of the night with the words, “Wine to water” stuck in his head, a riff on the story of Jesus turning water into wine. He wrote them down, uncertain what they might mean, but sure they were important.
He couldn’t sleep so he climbed out of bed and started Googling “water”. His search informed him that much of the world didn’t have access to clean drinking water and on the spot, Doc resolved to do something about it. Together with his friend, Tasha, he put together the first Wine to Water fund-raising event, which was a roaring success. They did another one and suddenly, they found themselves with a lot of money but no idea how to get it where it was needed. So Doc began searching for an organization that would use the money for water programs.
Remembering Samaritan’s Purse, he went to them and, in an unexpected twist, found himself invited to work for them, to figure out where best to use the money he and Tasha had raised. When asked where he’d like to go, he said, “I don’t know. How about you send me to where I’m most needed? Just send me to the worst place in the world.” And thus he came to Darfur, Sudan.
Doc’s story is filled with real-life adventures and people, lives changed, death and near-death experiences. It will break your heart and bring you joy. I don’t want to spoil it for you, but I can tell you it’s an easy, engaging read. I found it un-put-downable and I think you will to. Pick it up and see. But I give you fair warning: don’t start it just before bedtime!
(You can see what Wine to Water is doing at their website: http://winetowater.org/.)