LifeSpring UMC, Statesboro District partner to give water well in memory of Rev. Joe Roberson

1/3/2011

In Kenya, where inconsistent rains and prolonged droughts are causing severe water shortages, wells dug by Unto the Least of His ministries and its partners are helping families overcome poverty, disease and death.

LifeSpring United Methodist Church and the Statesboro District are partnering with Unto the Least of His ministries to help change the future for 3,000 to 5,000 people in northern Kenya’s Samburu region.  In doing so, they are also honoring the life of beloved pastor and former Statesboro District Superintendent Rev. Joseph Roberson.

Calling it the Living Water Project, LifeSpring UMC hopes that churches in the Statesboro District and throughout the South Georgia Conference will help raise the $20,000 needed to drill and install a well, which will be given in memory of Rev. Roberson.  The fresh, clean water it will provide will be a stabilizing factor for the community, says Rev. Bobby Gale, director of Unto the Least of His.

“When a water well is placed in a small village, it stabilizes the community so that when the droughts come, they don’t have to move and they can live,” he said.  “When a drought comes, it is very, very serious, and the water well becomes, literally, life for the community.”

The Maasai people of Kenya’s Samburu region are semi-nomadic, moving as need necessitates. A water well not only helps to stabilize the community, but the schools as well.  When school children don’t have to move because of a drought, they can stay in school and finish their education.

A mission project of this scope has been on Rev. Dorsia Atkinson’s heart and mind for more than a year.  It came up during the LifeSpring UMC pastor’s conversations with Rev. Roberson but was put on hold following Rev. Roberson’s death.  Recently, however, God has laid it on his heart again, Rev. Atkinson said.

“In the last several months, God has pressed on my heart that we need to step out and teach by setting an example of what we believe,” he said.  “It’s been on my mind for a while and just kept getting stronger and stronger.”

While this is a project of LifeSpring UMC, Rev. Atkinson and church leaders recognize that it’s not one they can do on their own.  But, he said, they wanted to take on a project that would require a miracle to complete.

“I knew it was a very expensive thing and something that was more than our church could do,” Rev. Atkinson said.  “$20,000 represents about five months of our weekly offering and I didn’t know how we could do it, but as I prayed about it I realized that it was a God-sized mission.  This is an opportunity for us to show how much we trust God in what we’re doing and how much we trust God in what He’s given us.  We wanted to do some type of mission outreach … that was not something that we could have done in our own strength; we wanted it to be bigger than what we were. We wanted to be involved in a miracle.”

Dr. Ben Martin, Statesboro District Superintendent, said that this project is a great opportunity for churches to partner with the Statesboro District and LifeSpring UMC to help perpetuate Rev. Roberson’s legacy and ministry.

“Joe’s vision of the church was a lot bigger than just South Georgia,” he said.  “Joe was committed to the United Methodist Church and being a part of the connection, and being in (the connection) takes us far beyond just the Statesboro District and just our local churches.”

Access to clean, fresh drinking water will be a miracle for the Maasai people of northern Kenya, Rev. Gale says.  In addition to helping stabilize the community, clean water helps prevent typhoid, dysentery, cholera and other water-borne diseases. 

“The water well will be an agent of grace for a people who may have never heard the gospel and now are seeing it in word and deed,” Rev. Gale said.

To learn more about LifeSpring UMC’s Living Water Project, visit www.lifespringeffect.com/livingwater.  Donations may be sent to LifeSpring UMC (designated for the Living Water Project) at P.O. Box 866, Statesboro, GA 30459.

 --By Kara Witherow, South Georgia Advocate editor

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