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Children’s Christmastime sacrifice kindled his willingness to volunteer

CRESWELL, Ore. (BP)–Dewayne Tiller of New Hope Baptist Church in Creswell, Ore., began his missions adventures during the Christmas season of 1984.
Tiller’s children were moved by several advertisements about hunger in the African country of Mali and asked their parents to give money to hunger relief in Mali instead of buying them Christmas presents. Since his children were willing to make such a sacrifice, Tiller decided to go to Mali himself and help.
The businessman contacted the Southern Baptist International Mission Board. At the time, they didn’t need help in Mali. They gave him the option of teaching Vacation Bible School in Jamaica or drilling water wells in Honduras.
Tiller wasn’t interested in teaching VBS in Jamaica and didn’t know anything about drilling water wells. So he turned down the opportunities.
“But God had another plan in mind,” said Tiller’s wife, Pat. “He thought, ‘A lot of people could go teach VBS in Jamaica, but maybe not everyone can dig wells in Honduras.'”
Teller once again called the IMB. They connected him with a well-drilling team in Texas.
After returning home from his first mission trip, Tiller envisioned himself leading a well-drilling team from the Northwest. Since then, he has led teams from his own church to Honduras almost annually. The water wells they dig provide clean water for Honduran communities and have saved the lives of many.
“When Dewayne first started going, the fatality rate for birth to age 5 was incredible,” Pat said. “The fatality rate has decreased amazingly because of the wells.”
Matt Tiller, Dewayne’s son, celebrated his 16th birthday during his first mission trip in Honduras. Now, at age 24, Matt speaks Spanish fluently and is a vital part of their team.
At times Pat worries about the safety and health of her husband and son. Yet she acknowledges her vital support roles as both prayer and business partner.
“It’s never hard for a team to go because they see the need,” she said. “It’s harder for the wives because we don’t see the need firsthand. My part is to stay home and take care of our son and take care of the business and keep it going and to pray, too.”
New Hope now has a policy of encouraging members to go on these mission trips by paying the way of any first-time team member. One percent of their general offering is set aside for this purpose. Eight members have gone so far.

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  • Gini Moreau