Love and Partnership has Knit us All into One Family
by John Castricum
Editor’s Note: After members of the First Church of Christ, Congregational in Bedford made a bold decision to donate all its holiday fair proceeds to provide clean, safe drinking water to a community in need, they needed to figure out how to get the job done. (See Spotlight article for details.)
Normally, our church fair would bring in between $12,000 to $13,000, but because of the focus of mission work attached to this fair, it broke all records and we collected over $18,000. But another challenge lay ahead: deciding what organization would get the Fair proceeds? In the midst of the decision making, I mentioned the project in a conversation with Associate Conference Minister Wendy Vander Hart. She encouraged me to talk to Greg Morisse, Pastor at the The Plymouth Church in Framingham, which has built many water wells over the past several years.
Greg and I got together for an initial conversation. I was really impressed with his church’s ongoing relationship with a Lutheran Church in the Pomerini area of Tanzania. He explained to me how after several members of the Plymouth congregation traveled there in 2007, they discovered that the only source of water for the community was a contaminated river three miles away. So they started the Africa Exchange Project, which was a program to help bring fresh water to Pomerini and the surrounding areas by installing simple mechanical wells near the homes and schools in the community.
The Reverend Gregory R. Morisse, Senior Pastor
The Plymouth Church in Framingham
In 2008, the Plymouth church brought a choir from that village to Massachusetts, to perform in dozens of concerts, raising money to support the drilling of these wells. To date, the Africa Exchange Project has drilled 35 wells in the Pomerini vicinity, which provide fresh, clean water to thousands of people. Their efforts have now expanded to include providing funding for building schools, and helping to train and pay teachers.
After hearing about the Plymouth church’s efforts, we invited their mission team to give a presentation on their mission work and answer questions. It was a great evening. Mission leaders talked about their deep relationship with the people of the Pomerini region and how that relationship motivated them to expand their mission.
Our members were so impressed and excited about the project, they voted to give all the fair proceeds to Plymouth Church. Last March, I and other members of First Church attended a fundraising dinner in Framingham and presented the check. This means six wells will be drilled in villages in desperate need of safe drinking water. To say the least, the leaders of the water project rejoiced – we got a standing ovation. They were so thankful for our generosity and the trust we placed in their mission. We were especially touched when one mission leader told us that this contribution meant dozens of babies will live.
Our members have rejoiced at this new partnership and are looking forward to sending members to Tanzania to see the wells in action and to build a relationship with the people receiving the wells. We know that as a result of this partnership, we have extended God’s love to communities in Tanzania through our bold witness to villages in need. In all these instances, lives are changed. People are given hope. They come to know that someone cares about them.
I am so proud of all who worked on the Fair and contributed to its success. This was a tremendous accomplishment. I am also grateful to the Conference and to Wendy. She was instrumental in connecting us to Plymouth Church. If it were not for her, we probably would not know about their project and would have donated to one of the popular water project charities out there.
As much as mission is about giving out money and resources, it is also about making a personal connection with someone totally different from you. I recommend taking advantage of what the Conference has to offer in helping to connect different churches and their missions and making us a real community of faith -- looking at the world and prayerfully working to make it a better place.
Rev. Greg speaks for both of us when he wrote, “All of this is important work that we do because the love we have for them propels us. The love and partnership between us has knit us all into one family, even across languages, oceans and continents. We are one in the Spirit.”
You can read more about the Plymouth Church in Framingham Africa Exchange Project here: http://www.africaexchangeproject.org/
Plymouth Church July 2015 group traveled to Africa to see
first-hand the status of the projects they support.
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