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One Thousand Wells

How an Audacious Goal Taught Me to Love the World Instead of Save It

Foreword by Donald Miller

About The Book

Jena Nardella, cofounder of Blood:Water and one of Christianity Today’s 33 Under 33, shares a “captivatingly honest” (Publishers Weekly) account of how her passion for saving the world grew into a humbler, long-term calling of loving the world in all its brokenness in this beautifully written memoir.

Ten years ago, Jena Lee Nardella was a fresh-out-of-college, twenty-something with the lofty goal of truly changing the world. Armed with a diploma, a thousand dollars, and a dream to build one thousand wells in Africa, she joined forces with Grammy Award–winning band Jars of Clay to found Blood:Water and begin her mission.

Jena’s dream for her nonprofit turned that initial $1 into $20, and then $100, and today into more than $25 million. Working throughout eleven countries in Africa, Blood:Water has provided healthcare for over 62,000 people in HIV-affected areas and has partnered with communities to provide clean water for more than one million people in Africa. But along the way she faced many harsh realities that have tested her faith, encountered corruption and brokenness that nearly destroyed everything she’d fought for, and learned that wishful thinking will not get you very far. Jena discovered true change comes only when you stop trying to save the world and allow yourself to love it, even when it breaks your heart.

With a fresh, intelligent, and winsome voice, Jena Lee Nardella weaves an evocative, personal narrative filled with honest and hard-won lessons that demonstrate the amazing things that can happen when you fight for your dreams.

About The Author

Photograph © Kharen Hill

Jena Lee Nardella is the cofounder of Blood:Water, which she started ten years ago at the age of twenty-two with the band Jars of Clay. Following her vision and leadership, the organization has brought clean water access to more than one million people in Africa and provided healthcare for more than 62,000 people in HIV-affected areas. In 2012, Jena was invited by President Obama to pray for the nation in front of a TV audience of twenty million. She has been honored as an Epoch Award Winner, as GOOD Magazine's GOOD 100, and as one of Christianity Today's 33 under 33 Christian leaders shaping the next generation of faith. Jena serves on the core team for Praxis, a venture group helping entrepreneurs build high-impact organizations and served on the board for Equitas Group, a philanthropic organization focused on ending child exploitation in Haiti and Southeast Asia. Jena and her husband, James, and their son, Jude live in Nashville and East Africa.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Howard Books (August 25, 2015)
  • Length: 288 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781501107443

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Raves and Reviews

“Original, perceptive, and compelling… In an astonishingly honest voice, Jena Lee Nardella reflects on the questions we ask ourselves when the odds are overwhelmingly against us - why hope that seems foolish is still necessary.”

– Amy Tan, bestselling author of The Joy Luck Club

“Very few people can write a book about how they have already changed the world before they’re even 30. Jena is one of those rare gifts from God. Her story, her heart, and her journey of bringing clean, fresh, life-giving water to the people in Africa is one you will never forget. Read One Thousand Wells and then help her dig some more.”

– Kathie Lee Gifford

“Jena’s story will inspire you to go out and live a great story. And though the work she does is serious business, she never takes herself too seriously. She invites you into her world like an old friend.”

– Donald Miller, bestselling author of Blue like Jazz

"Buckle up, you're about to meet one of love's heroes."

– Bob Goff, Hon. Consul, Republic of Uganda; author of Love Does

“An authentic and inspiring read for those who want to make a difference in the world.”

– Tony Hale, Emmy-Award winning actor from Arrested Development and Veep

"This is a story of idealism maturing, step by step, into lasting love—and it's a story every idealist, and every almost-cynic, must read."

– Andy Crouch, executive editor, Christianity Today

"Jena Lee Nardella lives her life with honesty and humility—always learning and always adventurous. In One Thousand Wells, her indomitable spirit shows through! A delightful read that shows what can happen when you love others with your whole life, pursue passion with reckless abandon, and allow yourself to be changed along the way."

– Gary A. Haugen, President and CEO of International Justice Mission and author of The Locust Effect

"One Thousand Well is the journey of a calling, from start to finish. It's for the ones of us that always felt the call to something "big" in our bones. What's refreshing about Jena's story is that it isn't too massive for us- it gives us hope that the world can be shifted through persistence, a dedication to one's cause, and baby steps. If each of us lived with the plain love and bold obedience of Jena, there'd be a thousand more tales of loving the world-- instead of saving it-- out there. It is so evident-- the world needs more stories like this one."

– Hannah Brencher, author of If You Find This Letter

"Jena’s passionate, reflective and uncompromising journey has inspired me and the team at charity: water for years. Her leadership has not only directly impacted the lives of so many with clean water, but inspired countless others to break from apathy and follow their passions to give and serve.”

– Scott Harrison, Founder of Charity:Water

“Oliver Wendell Holmes put it best. “Give me the simplicity on the other side of complexity.” That, in a phrase, describes where many social entrepreneurs stall out. They run up against complexity and are overwhelmed by it. Jena Lee Nardella is one of the very few who not only made it through that obstacle but now has the wisdom and skills to be a guide for others.”

– Fred Smith, President of The Gathering

"This is a book of profound hope sure to inspire dreamers of all kinds. Jena Nardella's story proves that when we pursue audacious goals, we find so much more than we went looking for."

– Reba Riley, author of Post-Traumatic Church Syndrome

“Captivatingly honest… Her story lights the path for a generation of disillusioned Christians sifting through tough questions about selfless love and unbounded faith in a world of heightened individualism.”

– Publishers Weekly

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