BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (BP)–A steady stream of clean, safe drinking water is now available to some residents of the Tijuana, Mexico, community of Colonial Alamar, home to 7,000 people who had been drinking contaminated water.
Volunteers from Woman’s Missionary Union, the San Diego Southern Baptist Association, California Baptist Disaster Relief and Smoke Rise Baptist Church in Stone Mountain, Ga., joined a hydrogeologist from Houston and local volunteers in Tijuana to install a water purification system on March 11.
The system was installed inside Centro Shalom Alamar, the only church in the area. After impure water is delivered from a tanker truck to two 660-gallon tanks, the water is filtered, chlorinated and stored in a 300-gallon pure water tank for distribution.
Fernando Martinez, a pastor, church planter and local contact for the project, said the clean water will help families who are already part of the church and will be used to reach out to unbelievers in the community.
“We plan to give people 20-liter jugs of water with a sticker on each that has a Bible verse and Pure Water, Pure Love,” Martinez said. “This project will facilitate us to present the love of Christ via water, and the people will save money because of the free water provided by the church.”
Local volunteer Salvador Suazo added, “The people have been praying for clean water; this will be a blessing.” Clean water costs $3.25 for a 20-liter jug, which Suazo said is quite expensive, given that many of the people there work five days a week, 12 hours a day to earn $45 a week.
Chuck Erikson, associational director of California Baptist Disaster Relief, said, “The community will see that we care as we meet physical needs, then we can address spiritual needs.” He continued, “Matthew 25:42-46 talks about meeting the physical needs of people by ministering to their present needs. Everyone may not speak the same language, but we can give a cup of cold water in Jesus’ name to the people who are thirsty.”
Kristy Carr, national WMU’s volunteer connection specialist, said the water system installation was the culmination of more than a year of networking.
It all began when Carr traveled to Tijuana in October 2003 to check into the possibility of holding a FamilyFEST missions opportunity there in 2005 at the request of the San Diego Southern Baptist Association. During the visit, she met Martinez, who does ministry in San Diego and Tijuana, and Tim Adcox, minister of missions and recreation from Smoke Rise Baptist Church, who was on a missions trip in Tijuana. The Georgia Baptist Convention has a partnership with the San Diego association, and Smoke Rise has been involved with the partnership for the past five years.
During their conversation in Tijuana, Adcox said to Carr, “If you really want to make an impact, we want to partner with you.” Two months later, Carr visited Adcox in Georgia to further discuss how they could work together with the San Diego association. In June 2004, members of First Baptist Church in Tifton, Ga., built a church in Tijuana and conversations continued as to how WMU’s Pure Water, Pure Love ministry could help provide clean water.
Adcox contacted Carr at WMU and asked about the possibilities of digging a well or other long-term solutions for clean water. Carr put out some calls and by the end of the day, she received a phone call from a man she hadn’t met nor personally called, Rob Pettigrew.
“I’m a hydrogeologist in Houston, Texas, and have served as a [Southern Baptist missionary] journeyman in Honduras,” Pettigrew said over the phone. “I also have experience digging wells in Mexico. How can I help you?”
Still in awe over how God answered this prayer for expertise in a matter of hours, Carr put Pettigrew in touch with Martinez. Then in November 2004, Pettigrew went to Tijuana to determine options and the most effective course of action to make purified water available at the church. She slated the installation for March of this year.
“The networking is amazing as we witness so many ‘God things,’” Adcox said. “It is incredible to see how God has pulled so many people to together — from Texas, California, Alabama, Georgia — as a starting point to accomplish this ministry.”
Another volunteer from Smoke Rise Baptist Church, Roy Vreeland, said, “We’ve been working five years with this ministry, and the water project WMU has provided will have more impact on the poor people of Tijuana than any other single project we have been involved with.”
Dwight Simpson, director of missions for the San Diego association, has been involved in ministries in Tijuana for the past several years and is a key partner with the new water purification system. Excited about the new ministry opportunities the clean water will provide, Simpson said, “I praise God for His blessings in bringing our work in Tijuana to the attention of national WMU. This no man’s land along the border would not have a newfound sense of confidence in its future if not for WMU’s involvement.”
WMU began its Pure Water, Pure Love ministry in 1997 to help support missionaries with water filters and purification systems to provide pure, safe drinking water as they follow God’s call to serve around the world. In recent years, this ministry has received increased support and several donations from church groups that indicated they would like their donation to go toward a project. Because of this type of support, WMU is now able to expand the ministry to include other long-term solutions for providing clean water to missionaries as well as to the people to whom they minister.
Pure Water, Pure Love will provide ongoing support of the water purification system in Tijuana by helping with maintenance and the purchase and distribution of water for the next several years.
FUTURE TIJUANA OPPORTUNITY
Volunteers from all over the country will have an opportunity to continue ministry in this area this summer, June 26–July 1, during FamilyFEST in San Diego, and Tijuana.
As part of WMU’s Volunteer Connection, FamilyFEST is a hands-on missions experience that provides volunteers an opportunity to partner with Christians and support ongoing missions projects as they use their individual gifts to reach out, help others and share the love of Christ.
FamilyFEST is open to anyone in the first grade and up, offering a unique opportunity for adults to model missions to their children, their grandchildren and other young people as they work together serving others.
Ministry opportunities will include VBS, backyard Bible clubs, prayerwalking, quilting, construction, light repairs and painting, servant evangelism projects, health clinics and more. Bilingual volunteers are especially needed in Tijuana to work with children’s ministry and crafts with women, while bilingual doctors and nurses are needed to provide medical care.
The deadline to register is May 2. For more information, contact WMU’s Volunteer Connection at (205) 991-4097, or visit http://www.wmu.com/getinvolved/ministry/volunteer/.
This FamilyFEST is a partnership between national WMU’s Volunteer Connection, California WMU and the San Diego Southern Baptist Association.
For further information about WMU’s Pure Water, Pure Love ministry, call Barbara Yeager at WMU at (205) 991-4091; e-mail [email protected]; or write to Pure Water, Pure Love, c/o WMU, P.O. Box 830010, Birmingham, AL 35283-0010.