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.
In this reflective memoir, Jena Lee Nardella recounts her journey from 20-something, manifesto-writing dreamer to a chief shepherding role for Blood:Water, a nonprofit that seeks to provide water to over 1,000 communities across Africa. With vivid imagery, Nardella ushers readers through her own personal and spiritual development, explaining that God used many experiences, including her musical interests, her religious upbringing, and a failed college major, to set the stage for her future work. Drawing parallels between her own tumultuous journey and that of the organization, Nardella chronicles key lessons in sustaining a growing enterprise or a personal life. The shift from her early development to a more mature perspective feels abrupt, and the insertion of updates on some projects broke the flow of her personal narrative, but Nardella's story is captivatingly honest even at potential personal cost. 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.