Baptist youth inspire giving to Africa, India water projects
Dream inspires student at Sugar Land Baptist Church in Texas to urge the congregation to support clean-water ministry efforts around the globe.
By Ken Camp
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, fell asleep in the car on a family road trip. She dreamed about her Houston-area youth group holding fundraising events 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.
“She came to me with a folder filed with information about Living Water International,” Foley recalled.
The faith-based nonprofit organization in nearby Stafford, Texas, 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.
The 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 beverages to Living Water.
“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. Proceeds are designated for 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.
In five years, the youth group has inspired 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.”
Sugar Land Baptist Pastor Phil Lineberger praised the students' commitment to alleviating human suffering.
“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.
“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.
— Ken Camp is managing editor of The Baptist Standard.
© 2016 Baptist News Global