Southwest District drills well, helps supply clean water and hope to village
By Kara Witherow, Editor
A community of almost 50 people near Leon, Nicaragua today has clean, running water thanks, in part, to 10 short-term missionaries from the Southwest District and the South Georgia Conference of The United Methodist Church.
From Aug. 29 through Sept. 5, the team of 10 went on the Southwest District’s first foreign mission trip. The group traveled to a remote area about 60 miles from the country’s capital of Managua where they drilled a well with Living Water International (www.water.cc), a non-denominational nonprofit agency that exists to demonstrate the love of God by helping communities acquire clean water and to experience “living water,” the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The group consisted of Rev. Paula Lewis and Pam Peacock of Pinson Memorial UMC; Bea Bea Hurt and Chris McKee of Cordele First UMC; Stephanie and Rev. Hugh Marchant of Wenona UMC, Rebecca UMC, and Arabi UMC; Rev. Christy Bandy from Antioch UMC in the South Central District; Jim Smith and George Peake from Mulberry Street UMC in the North Central District; and Dr. Nita Crump, superintendent of the Southwest District.
One of the goals of the mission trip – other than to dig a well and help supply clean water – was to enhance the sense of connectionalism within the district, said Dr. Crump. The mission trip was a way to bring people together who might otherwise never have crossed paths and to help individuals and churches feel connected.
Another of Dr. Crump’s goals for the district is to encourage people to live out Christ’s call to serve others and to think of ways to reach out beyond the walls of the church and be in ministry to all the world.
“This trip really was a way to meet both of those goals,” she said. “It continued to work toward the district being connected because not only did we have the people from the district on the trip, but we also had many churches across the district supporting the trip financially.”
Another way Dr. Crump helped increase the feeling of connectedness, within the Southwest District, throughout the South Georgia Conference, and beyond, was to post trip updates to the district’s Facebook page.
Each day, family, friends, church members, and other interested individuals could log on and see how the team was serving and helping spread the love of Christ. Photos were shared, prayers were offered, and encouragement was given from hundreds of miles away.
“All of this fits in the goal of helping the churches be more connected as together we reach out to serve the world,” Dr. Crump said.
A new season to serve
Married mother of three Pam Peacock has entered a new season of ministry. A member of Pinson Memorial UMC, Peacock retired from the Federal Bureau of Prisons a few years ago. While raising children and working full time, her ministry was focused inside her home and at work. Now retired, she’s in a new season of life and ministry. This mission trip to Nicaragua was her first, but her experience was so profound that she plans to go on the district’s next mission trip to the Dominican Republic in June.
“It was very enlightening,” Peacock said of the trip. She recalled daily devotions and discussions about faith with another mission team from Washington state and Canada, working with the Nicaraguan women and children, and experiences that grew and stretched her faith.
She gained confidence on the trip and is using what she learned in Nicaragua as she serves at home through her church.
“This gave me a new perspective on life as a whole.”
Ministering to the whole person
Rev. Paula Lewis is not new to mission trips – this was her fourth overseas trip – but one aspect of this trip that appealed to her was that the team was helping meet a necessary physical need.
“When Jesus ministered, he ministered to the whole person; He didn’t just preach to crowds of thousands and tell them to go home, he fed them,” she said. “And so I think our ministry to the world is a ministry to the whole person, not just to their soul.”
Before the well was dug, community members relied on a small pipe run from a neighboring village’s well for their water. They only had access to running water for a few hours each day when that village turned their power on. They had to collect enough water during that time to last through the day until the next day when the power was turned back on.
The new well is hand operated and not run by electricity, and villagers have access to clean water any time they need or want it.
“I believe that when you do missions work – whether you are in your local community or abroad – when you meet people in crisis, they can’t respond to the gospel unless the need they are having to face every day is met,” Rev. Lewis said. “We gave something that they needed, something physical, and that opened them up to listening to the gospel.”
The community had been praying for a well and a source of clean, safe water for three years.
Asked how it felt to be used by God to be a tangible answer to prayer, Dr. Crump said, “Isn’t that what we’re supposed to be all the time as we work to bring in the kingdom?”