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Transcript: Churches give clean water for Africa

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(Man in suit pumps a glass of water for the pastor while the choir sings. Pastor drinks glass of water. Another pastor drinks and then holds up the glass to the still singing choir and says, “Alleluia!” and then dances and sings.)

This ribbon cutting celebration calls for a toast. A new well brings clean water and a flood of opportunites for this village in Mozambique.

The happy scene has been repeated across this East African country, thanks to support from United Methodist churches 9000 miles away, in Missouri.

The Rev. Yvi Martin, The Gathering United Methodist Church: “We have completed 120 wells and we’ve got 6 more in the works. That’s 126,000 people that now have access to safe water who didn’t five years ago.”

The Rev. Yvi Martin’s home church in St. Louis is among those that give up to 100% of their Christmas and Easter offering to missions.

The Rev. Matt Miofsky, The Gathering United Methodist Church: “Through our Christmas Eve offering at the Gathering, we dug the well that is directly behind me. The name of the town is …. Bethlehem.”

The Rev. Yvi Martin: “Clean water is simple. We can wrap our minds around it. We know we need it. We know that every person on this planet needs it.”

The Rev. Yvi Martin, The Gathering United Methodist Church:  “Let’s say a woman has been spending four hours of her day walking to get water. You’ve just given her four hours in the day. You know what women can do with four hours! Women are then able to consider working. Women are able to pursue education.”

In communities with wells, schools are being built and men and women are able to start small businesses.  These projects have grown from the Mozambique Initiative which pairs Missouri churches with congregations in Africa.

The Rev. Beth Elders: “They’re in prayer together with us and we’re in prayer together with them.”

The Rev. Beth Elders’ church, Manchester United Methodist, has dug two wells and installed a cistern. They’ve also built a school, with a second school under construction.

The Rev. Beth Elders, Manchester United Methodist Church: “Since the school and the new well in Mabumbuza opened, worship attendance at Mabumbuza United Methodist Church has more than doubled. It’s like they’ve outgrown their chapel because people want to be involved with a church that’s involved with their community."

Wells are dug at the site of United Methodist churches and become daily gathering places for hundreds of people from miles around.

The Rev. Yvi Martin  “Mozambican pastors talk about wells as their tool for evangelism. This is the way that they are not only meeting people’s physical needs and strengthening them and giving them health and life-living water. But it’s the way that they’re giving them Jesus Christ.”

Partner churches look for new ways to educate and engage throughout the year.

The Rev. Beth Elders: “We gave each child a very small offering box. Each day in Lent there was an objective that they were supposed to count something in their home or in their school, and for each item they counted they were to put a coin into the box. For every pair of shoes in your closet put a coin in the box. They’re getting to understand children a world away a little bit better.”

Some Missouri churches have waiting lists for the next mission trip to Mozambique. Finding a way to lessen the load  for friends halfway around the world fits the principles of service that founder John Wesley envisioned for the people of The United Methodist church.

The Rev. Yvi Martin: “Wesley was pushing people out. We sometimes get complacent in our pew, and this is how we get out. This is how we pay attention to what’s happening for our brothers and sisters. Our world is much smaller now. Mozambique may be 8,000 miles away, but we can get there in 24 hours. Those are our neighbors. Those are our brothers and sisters.”