“We are just a little church, ordinary,” said Lynda Burke, children’s pastor of Sonlight Christian Reformed Church of Lynden, Washington, “but in the hands of God our [children] have seen 8,000 people get clean water.”
Approximately 200 children, ages preschool through grade 6, have helped raise $100,000 in the past 10 years, enough to build 20 wells for the Avadi people of northwest Nigeria. The children of Sonlight CRC have supported Partners Worldwide’s Water Wins project, which seeks to provide access to clean water to people living in the East Kambari region of Nigeria. World Renew, the relief and development agency of the CRC, also helped fund this project.
Although the children bring offerings to Sunday school for the clean water project, the majority of the money has been raised through creative fundraisers initiated by the children themselves. They baked cookies to sell on Valentine’s Day, sold lemonade, passed out “Peter Fish” banks at Thanksgiving, and held garage sales. Hailey Wubben, 11, said, “A lot of people think knowing about something and feeling sorry about big problems is enough, but you have to take it to heart and actually do something about it, and that’s what we're doing.”
Jeremiah Yongo, a Nigerian well digger, visits Sonlight CRC on a regular basis and shares with the children how the wells are providing better health and hope to the Avadi people. “Recently he told us that the villages with water have begun to name their firstborns in elaborate naming ceremonies. Life expectancy has dramatically increased with the coming of a well, and babies now have a chance at life,” said Burke.
Burke helped start the project in 2005 and plans to continue it. “We’re not going to stop, Lord willing, until all of the northwestern Nigerian region has clean water,” she said. “There are many amazing places we can give. I believe you can have great impact by focusing on one organization and sticking with it until you’re old and gray.”