Wisconsin Church Digs Deep for Clean Water

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People are familiar with the idea of raising funds for clean water, but what about a well drilling machine? It may seem unusual, but this God-sized challenge to raise $75,000 for a well-digger was embraced by the members of Brookfield (Wis.) Christian Reformed Church.

It started as part of a Generous Church effort and grew because of the congregation’s ambition and relationships with strategic partners. After learning about the lack of clean water in Mozambique and the cost to drill wells, Brookfield CRC set their sights on raising enough money for a small drill, similar to one used by many nonprofits throughout Africa. But they had just three months to collect the $75,000 needed.

“People rallied,” said Rev. Peter Verhulst. “Children set up lemonade stands and collected aluminum cans. Small groups held garage sales. Individuals donated their tips and lunch per diems for three months. Yard signs were created and displayed throughout the area. The church also held a “water-walk” after church one Sunday.”

At the end of the three months, the church had raised about $100,000. And while they felt God had indeed blessed their efforts, there were unforeseen challenges ahead.
First, soil tests revealed that the drill they had been looking to purchase would be inadequate. An answer to prayer came, however, when Sam’s Well Drilling, owned by the Vander Galien family, agreed to donate the difference in cost for the larger drill and provide the extra parts needed to keep the drill going. 

The team encountered a second challenge when they learned that left-hand drive vehicles are no longer allowed in Mozambique. This time an answer to prayer came through church member Dan Jongetjes and his family’s company, Johns Disposal. Their plan to unbolt the drill from the current truck and put it onto a right-side truck was a success.

“I told my dad, the current owner of Johns, that this was an awesome opportunity for our family company to put our faith in action,” Jongetjes said. “We’re really familiar with right-side trucks. Each year we swap a few garbage truck packers from truck to truck, so we thought, if we can swap a garbage truck packer, why not a well drill? We did this to help further God’s kingdom here on earth. It’s our prayer that our efforts with the rig will help make lives better over in Mozambique.”

There are still challenges ahead, including shipping the well-digger. Original estimates put shipping costs around $18,000 but this has been bumped to $36,000. Additional donations came in from the community after a local newspaper column featured their story, but it is not yet enough for the well-digger to ship. 

“We are confident that God will provide another answer as he has all along the way,” Verhulst said. “Presently we are looking into the option of shipping to another port.”

“It’s been an incredible experience to feel the unity of the body of Christ throughout this endeavor,” Verhulst said. “Our fellow believers in Mozambique, the VanderGaliens, the Jongetjeses, the congregation here, all striving for the same goal of touching the community around Nampula with the love of Christ!” (Watch a video of this effort here.)

About the Author

Melissa Holtrop

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