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FBC Meridianville youth challenged to provide clean water in other countriescomment (0)

October 27, 2011

By John Evans

In parts of Guatemala, luxuries are measured in ice instead of iPods. Simple concrete-block homes are vast improvements. And in the village of San Antonio, clean drinking water was unheard of until recently, a deficiency that hurt the children the most.

“The adults in the village sort of know that they’re (supposed) to boil their drinking water, but that doesn’t really keep a child, when they’re thirsty, (from) drinking anything that they think is water,” said David Hutto, associate pastor and minister to students at First Baptist Church, Meridianville.

Members of the Madison Baptist Association church visited San Antonio with the missions organization Mission Firefly in the summer of 2008 to see what could be done to help a place Hutto described as “sort of forgotten by the government and kind of off the beaten path.” The villagers asked for clean drinking water to replace the bacteria-infested source they drew from 200 yards down a mountain. A partnership between First, Meridianville, and Mission Firefly made that wish a reality with a $10,000 water purification system installed this summer.

“When we saw what a difference that pure water made in one village, we got to thinking and said, ‘Well, if our church and Mission Firefly can do one, why can’t we shoot big and try to do five?’” Hutto said.

One Wednesday night, he laid out his challenge to the church’s students: Raise $50,000 over a year for five water purification systems to go to developing countries.

“We have been teaching and preaching and talking about doing something or allowing God to use us to make an impact on eternity here and beyond ... and I said, ‘We’ve talked long enough,’” Hutto said.

Two weeks later, the students and adults who worship with them on Wednesday nights pledged $8,000 out of their own pockets.

Involvement in missions is not new for First, Meridianville, which partners with Mission Firefly for continuing ministry in San Antonio.

But to some, the price tag of Hutto’s challenge seems steep for a student ministry with about 50 regular participants — a sum of money only God can raise.

“It would be hard, impossible for us to raise $50,000,” said Abby Stallings, a youth Sunday School and discipleship teacher. “But if we are willing to be God’s hands and feet in this … then I think that [our youth will] understand that God is a big God.”  

To bridge the gap between pledged funds and the projects’ cost, the students are embarking on fundraisers such as car washes, southern gospel singings and selling T-shirts. The effort is stretching some students.

“Really the thing that I’ve noticed is I’ve kind of stepped outside of my comfort zone in asking people that I don’t know to help with this cause,” said Ethan Stallings, Abby Stallings’ son who is a freshman at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. “I’ve never really been big on just going up to somebody that I don’t know and just starting a conversation.”

A major part of getting the word out is selling silicone wristbands that say, “Got pure water?,” on one side and “Matthew 10:42” on the other. Roughly 1,000 have been sold so far.

“Some people just see the bracelets and they just ask what that’s about, so I have a chance to kind of plant that seed on what we’re doing and tell them what it’s all about,” Ethan Stallings said. “They seem really interested. Even people that I don’t think are Christians will buy them if they know that it’s for a good cause.”

Abby Stallings said a new boldness is surging through the students; they are willing to share with others not only their mission to help provide clean water but also their faith in Jesus. That kind of active following of Jesus is what Hutto has been striving for in the student ministry.

“That’s what I want our students to be, and that’s what I will always challenge them to be: Christians on the go for the Kingdom,” he said. “Because they don’t need a youth group that’s full of activities to keep them off the street. What we need is a strong dose of the gospel that puts us on the street, out in the world.”

First, Meridianville, and Mission Firefly will be busy in San Antonio for a while. They’ve committed to rebuild every home in the village and construct a church building, and through their support, a pastor from Guatemala City is now ministering full time there. In the meantime, the students continue working toward their $50,000 goal, which Hutto hopes they will reach by Aug. 31, 2012. It’s a challenge but one Abby Stallings knows is not impossible.

“Let’s step out of the boat here and kind of walk on the water and see what God can do,” she said.

“I think He would love for us to take that leap of faith and just to trust Him for it.”

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