Honduran villages located between the cities of Tocoa and Trujillo whose water supply was contaminated by Hurricane Mitch in 1998 have safe drinking water today, thanks to several Foursquare churches and leaders working in partnership with other community organizations.
When Jim Settle, senior pastor of Praise Center (Coquille Foursquare Church) in Coquille, Ore., served as president of the Coquille Rotary Club in 2008, he was encouraged to organize a water project somewhere in the world to provide clean, safe water to people who didn’t have access to it. Moved by the tremendous need, Jim felt this could be a great opportunity to show the gospel in action.
The pastor was introduced to Water Missions International (WMI), an organization that has built and installed the Living Water Treatment System (LWTS) in over 80 countries worldwide. WMI steered him toward Honduras and their project coordinator, Hector Chacon, based in the city of Tocoa.
During the next year, Jim worked with WMI to choose a village for the treatment system and developed connections with Foursquare church leaders in Honduras. He worked with a Rotary Club in Trujillo and talked to Rotary Clubs in his own state; they generously contributed $6,300 toward the project. Rotary Clubs International granted another $6,300, and the project was funded.
The project was originally slated to be completed in February 2010 in the village of Chapagua. When the devastating earthquake struck Haiti in January, however, WMI immediately shifted much of their personnel to help with relief efforts. The Haiti crisis delayed the Honduras water project until October 1, when Jim flew to San Pedro Sula. There he was met by Honduras Foursquare Church National Leader Gilberto Mejia, and together they drove to Tocoa.
In Tocoa they met WMI’s project coordinator, Hector Chacon, Tocoa Foursquare Pastor Jary Ponce, as well as local Rotary Club leaders. The following day the team delivered the LWTS to Chapagua and met with Pastor Edilberto Calderon.
The next morning, the team was forced to detour over muddy back roads to get to the village. Three pickup loads of Tocoa Foursquare church members accompanied the team and immediately began canvassing the village, passing out gospel literature and inviting folks to the commissioning ceremony. At the shelter constructed by the local water committee to house the project, workers assembled the treatment system.
A large crowd of villagers began to gather, and at 2 p.m. the commissioning ceremonies began. The churches led in spirited singing, followed by addresses from the Water Committee Chairman, Pastor Edilberto, Pastor Jary, Hector Chacon of WMI, and Pastor Jim. A ribbon-cutting ceremony completed the commissioning, accompanied by much thanksgiving and rejoicing by the villagers.
The water didn’t actually flow until the next day, due to a broken pipe coming from the local reservoir (which is fed by a contaminated stream). After this was repaired, people started lining up and filling their receptacles with safe, clean water. Within a couple of weeks, nearby villagers representing a population of about 5,000 were coming for water.
Pastor Jary Ponce and his church in Tocoa have continued to work with Pastor Edilberto Calderon in Chapagua and surrounding villages, and they are beginning a coordinated evangelistic outreach and children’s ministry in the area.