Mission: Haiti 2009
Cup of change for cups of water
By Gary Fallesen
President, Climbing For Christ
A bell tolled every 15 seconds during worship at Hope Lutheran Church, softly reporting that another child had died from a waterborne illness.
Larry Stojkovic, the senior pastor at the suburban Rochester, N.Y. church, told the congregation that about 26,500 children in the world would die that Sunday in September 2009 of preventable causes related to their poverty. That’s the equivalent to 100 jetliners crashing, he said.
“If 100 jetliners crashed into the Atlantic Ocean yesterday, each carrying 265 passengers, would that have gotten the world’s attention?” Pastor Larry asked.
This was part of a month-long series — called “Hunger and Thirst” — that grabbed the attention of the family of Hope.
As part of worship, there was a call to action: food was collected to start a food shelf at the church and change was collected to support Climbing For Christ’s water project in Haiti.
The results were astounding. For the water project, more than $10,000 poured in. Cups reading, “Change … for safe water … for Haiti” were distributed and about 1,100 people were instructed to clean the change out of their cars and furniture and off dressers and nightstands.
The people, young and old, responded to the teaching by returning to worship the following Sunday with cups full of coins. They dumped them into empty office water-cool jugs. On the first Sunday, three 5-gallon jugs were filled with change.
Some of the 73,327 pennies, 13,524 nickels, 18,717 dimes, and 13,741 quarters collected during the 'Hunger and Thirst' series.
Pastor Larry was overjoyed with the way God had moved His people to share the wealth.
But it did not end there. Over the next two weeks, before the month of September ended, three more jugs were filled. Hundreds of pounds of coins were received.
Pastor Larry and I took those coins to the bank. We exchanged more than 119,000 coins for a check for $6,736.42.
Paper money and checks from individuals also were left in the jugs and given to the church and Climbing For Christ, totaling about $3,500.
This money will be used to build a pipeline that will carry clean drinking water from a spring up a steep, 425-vertical-foot hillside to the village of Gentilhomme. A state-of-the-art pedal-powered filter will be used by the community, which does not have electricity. The water will be stored in cisterns.
Each pedal-powered filter costs $2,900 and must be shipped from New Zealand to the island of Hispaniola, which Haiti shares with the Dominican Republic.
Cisterns also will be constructed in Malasi, another village Climbing For Christ is again visiting in December with a short-term mission team.
Climbing For Christ has been working in the mountains of southeastern Haiti since 2005. Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. The work God has done through this international ministry includes the:
- Building of churches and schools in three villages, with more to follow;
- Support of teachers working with about 300 children, most of whom previously did not go to school;
- Start of a monthly seminary to train pastors and church leaders in 10 or more villages;
- Provision of medical assistance in places where there are no doctors nearby;
- Start of food banks for emergency relief;
- Providing seeds, plants and fertilizer to more than 100 farmers who survive on what they grow, and starting “Seedling Banks” (agricultural nurseries for banana and coffee plants) in Gentilhomme and Malasi.
Partnering with the local church to improve the spiritual and physical lives of our neighbors is one way to accomplish great things for the Lord. Change can start with a cup full of coins and a prayer to provide living water to those in need.
Bob Stanchus, a member of Hope Lutheran Church and Climbing For Christ, deposits coins into the water cooler.
Posted Oct. 9, 2009