Students lead church to provide clean water in Third World

Living Water International works to provide access to improved water sources in rural areas, offering a cup of water in Jesus' name and proclaiming his gospel, the living water. (Living Water International Photos)

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SUGAR LAND—One high school student’s dream prompted a church to raise more than $94,000 for a ministry that provides clean water sources to people in developing nations.

About five years ago, Katie Honeycutt, a sophomore in the youth group at Sugar Land Baptist Church, near Houston, fell asleep in the car on a family road trip. She dreamed about her church’s youth group holding fund-raising events to collect money for Living Water International, an organization she had heard about at school.

When she awoke, she described the dream to her mother, who encouraged her to tell Debi Foley, associate pastor to students at Sugar Land Baptist Church, about it.

“She came to me with a folder filed with information about Living Water International,” Foley recalled.

The faith-based nonprofit organization, based in nearby Stafford, exists “to demonstrate the love of God by helping communities acquire desperately needed clean water and experience ‘Living Water’—the gospel of Jesus Christ—which alone satisfies the deepest thirst,” according to its mission statement. Living Water’s board of directors includes Mark Hartman, pastor of Sugar Creek Baptist Church in Sugar Land, and Chris Seay, pastor of Ecclesia Church in Houston.

“Living Water International not only builds wells across the globe to help bring clean drinking water, but they also do hygiene classes with the community and train individuals in each location in well-maintenance,” Foley said.

living water well300The ministry grew out of a 1990 mission trip to Kenya involving about three-dozen volunteers from Sugar Creek Baptist Church. It began by teaching Kenyans in the Mombasa area how to drill a water well, and it grew into a ministry that has resulted in 12,797 completed water projects in 23 countries, mostly in Africa, South Asia and Latin America.

Honeycutt presented a plan to Foley, complete with ideas about how to involve the church’s youth group in various events to raise money for the ministry and raise awareness about the need for clean water in developing nations.

“I told her, ‘If you have the plan and the vision, I am in full support,’” Foley recalled.

The student group washed cars and donated all the proceeds to Living Water International.

Another initiative involved Project H2O, in which church members were challenged to drink nothing but water for two weeks and donate any money they would have spent on soft drinks and other beverages to Living Water International.

“It has made our church aware of the number of people around the globe who don’t have access to something that we often take for granted,” Foley said.

The youth group also organized an annual churchwide dessert auction. The students provide entertainment, and church members bid on donated baked goods, with the proceeds designated for Living Water’s well-drilling projects.

“The dessert auction raised $13,000 in one night early on, and we raised $22,000 in one night last year,” Foley recalled.

living water burkinafaso425In Burkina Faso, West Africa, Living Water International works with the Dagara, a previously unreached people.In five years, the youth group has led Sugar Land Baptist Church to donate $94,817 to build and maintain 12 wells in Africa and India.

“What started as a dream has become a reality for 12 different communities, including a school in Uganda,” Foley said. “In those 12 locations, there is now access to clean drinking water, information about proper hygiene and the knowledge of the Living Water of Jesus Christ.”

Phil Lineberger, pastor of Sugar Land Baptist Church, expressed pride in the commitment to alleviate human suffering the students at his church have demonstrated.

“It speaks volumes about their priorities and their sensitivity to the most pressing needs of our world. That cup of water given in Jesus’ name is ministry extended to Jesus himself,” he said.

Honeycutt, a graphic design major at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, has returned home to Sugar Land Baptist Church for every dessert auction. But she expressed satisfaction the youth ministry has continued to lead the church in raising money to provide clean water for people around the world.

“It was never about me or something I had to lead. It always was something we could do together as a youth group,” she said. “It’s awesome the way it has continued, and I hope it will continue for a long time.”

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