Since thewater project opened at the Comunidad Cristiana El Santuario Iglesia de Dios Pentecostal Church in 2006, church members have had more opportunities to decide on matters that can benefit the ministry and the community of Barrio Mexico in southern coastal town of San Pedro de Macorís in Dominican Republic.
The church’s leadership calls for periodic members’ meetings where all ministry managers update the assembly on their ministry. Since all the ministries overlap in some way, these reports help the church make the best decisions.
The ministries include Compassion’s Child Sponsorship Program, the Healing Waters International water project, a school and a community holistic vocational center.
These church meetings have become a forum at which the community, represented by the believers, can discuss the best ways to manage resources.
Milqueya is a mother of eight and grandma of seven. She and her husband still live with 11 children and grandchildren at home. Milqueya and her large family enjoy the benefits of the decisions she’s been helping her church make as a voting member. One important decision was the incorporation of the Healing Waters International water project.
In the past, even the least harmful water source wasn’t safe enough for Milqueya. She bought water from the trucks that drove past her home.
Miqueya paid only RD$20 for a 5-gallon water bottle, avoiding the RD$35 price at local stores. But the truck-bought water was making her and her family sick.
“The water caused us stomach diseases. But after we began to drink the water from the church, we are always healthy and we don’t have any stomach problems.”
After the Healing Waters International project began, the community’s health has improved.
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“Since we’ve been running the project, there’s not been any health problems reported,” says Ana Ivelisse, manager of the Healing Waters International project. “The National Ministry of Health comes and tests our water to certify it.”
Not only is the water from the church the purest, it is also the most economic.
For RD$10, half of what she paid for the truck-bought water that made her family sick, Milqueya can take her 5-gallon water bottle home, saving her family’s limited resources for other living expenses.
Proceeds from the water project go toward human and social development to serve and benefit the community through education, health and nutrition.
In the field of education, the Healing Waters International project provides 20 children from Barrio Mexico with a scholarship so they can study at the church’s school.
The project also pays for a watchman who protects the property and equipment of the Compassion-assisted child development center, and a housekeeper who cleans the center’s building.
The proceeds also support the church’s vocational school, which trains locals in a variety of jobs, including computers.
Motorcycles, carts and trolleys arrive each day, taking home 41,000 to 45,000 gallons of purified water each month. The church donates another 600 gallons to the community.
The highest water consumption in the year comes during the summer months when the temperature reaches around 34 degrees Celsius, and the children are home for school break.
The 600 gallons of water that the church donates to the community benefits many groups, including the Compassion-assisted children at Cedina Student Center, the students in the church’s school, the medical staff and patients at a local clinic, and some neighbors in times of special need.
When the community holds a sports event, the church is always willing to support it. Pastor Ventura Taylor says,
“We serve the water in small bottles and we donate it to them as a way of our church being committed with that activity, which has to do with the social and cultural development of the community.”
A label is put on the bottles specifying that it is purified water from Comunidad Cristiana El Santuario Iglesia de Dios Pentecostal Church and Healing Waters International.
A recent major effort included donating purified water to the residents in Barrio Mexico during three days to commemorate the World Water Day and the Healing Waters International anniversary.
For the occasion, the local church had given special tickets to the customers, and on the first day of the celebration they picked tickets from a surprise box. The winning clients were given Healing Waters International promotional items like ball pens, key rings, caps, T-shirts and water bottles.
The water supply in the pipes in Barrio Mexico can be scarce at times.
“Many times the people don’t get water for even five days in a row,” sayss Ana Ivelisse. “We also give the people raw water so they can mop and clean their homes.
This concept of service derives from the way the church sees the people. Pastor Ventura Taylor and the church have a holistic concept of stewardship.
“The people using the purified water are not just in need. They are human beings with dignity, human beings in freedom, and human beings created in the image of God and after His likeness, whom we must value and respect.
“To us, the way we treat the people as users is the start of our own stewardship.”
For this reason, the church has chosen the most suitable staff from the congregation for the water jobs, people who can be the face of the project, upright and committed to their faith.
Pastor Ventura Taylor continues,
“They need to be people who can transmit the name of the Lord Jesus Christ through their living. And they will transmit it by thinking of the God of excellence and quality, who is the God whom we serve.”
As the church opens every morning, the staff has a short devotion with a reading from the Bible and a time of prayer, and invites any neighbor who has come for water to join in for a couple of minutes. Many people have come to know Jesus because of this courteous Christian attention.
As a community of faith, this church understands that the resources it has should be managed for the sake of the kingdom of God, and that it should be done with transparency.
Pastor Ventura Taylor testifies,
“Being accountable for the things we do has never been a bother to us. Instead, it is a satisfaction. We like to do our inventories, we like to do our audits, and we even like to have our yearly budget of how we are going to do things.”
on the Healing Waters blog, Waterworks.