In March, May, and June, I was in Guatemala twice and Honduras twice for extended visits. Most recently, in June, I was also in Chiapas, Mexico.
Water for All, with RECONPAZ (in English-Continental Christian Network for Peace), equips partners in Central America to address ecological damage and water scarcity in five Central American countries. We employ a participatory process of action-reflection-action.
Starting in the rural mountain village of Volcancitos in Guatemala, we work with a local faith-based community organization called Guardianas de la Naturaleza. After learning how to create a rainwater harvesting system for the local school, these community leaders became trainers in neighboring communities, helping them set up model rainwater harvesting systems in a central location where everyone can learn.
The purpose of the Rainwater project is to call out the community’s own strengths, replicating rainwater harvesting systems that give them a sense of autonomy, ownership of their water supply, and, dignity. This also diminishes a bit the need for continued dependence on outside funds in future years.
These leaders from the village of Volcancitos, having learned how to design and install a model rainwater harvesting for the school, have trained the leaders in two neighbor communities and installed rainwater systems in their schools. A fourth project is now underway in the village of Esperanza.
In our first visit in Honduras in March, with IM Regional Consultant Ricardo Mayol, and Helen Gutierrez, local leader, we presented orientation about rainwater harvesting and the Water for All Project for representatives from three regions. All the participants are from local churches from various denominations.
In addition to rainwater harvesting, we are also equipping these leaders to provide training and projects in reforestation, water justice (access to clean water as a human right), and creation care.
After a couple of days in Tegucigalpa, we traveled to several of the communities where three model rainwater harvesting systems will be installed. In each place we are working with local faith-based community organizations that are addressing environmental and water-access problems caused by extractive industries.
Dwight returned to Honduras last week for an intensive three-day training and practicum in rainwater harvesting for representatives from two indigenous Lenca and Miskito communities, and from Tegucigalpa.
In each place, we install the demonstration rainwater systems in the local school. That is always a central location where neighbors can learn how rainwater harvesting works and replicate it in their homes.
In every one of these schools there is no water supplied by a central distribution system. The children, teachers, and workers must carry in water from their home, enough to just wash their hands at school. Any water for the bathrooms, the kitchen, and cleaning also must be carried in.
But now there is water for the three schools in Guatemala, and one in the works. And soon there will be water for schools in three communities in Honduras.
The Water for All project is empowering people to be stewards of their own water sources.
And the visible hands that are installing rainwater harvesting systems are from local, faith-based groups from local churches!
This is a ministry that strengthens their testimony and service as followers of Jesus.
Your gifts to the One Great Hour of Sharing offering make this Water for All project through RECONPAZ possible. Also, thanks to IM’s World Relief Officer, Lisa Rothenberger for her support and advocacy for projects like this.
Notes towards a missiology of rainwater – or what does rainwater harvesting have to do with mission?
These are just a few of the texts that I am pondering as I consider the place of teaching people to harvest rainwater, caring sustainably for a finite resource, in the mission of God.
I invite you to share with me your own reflections and ideas, especially as they pertain to the statement below found in IM’s Responding to the Call document.
11 But the land that you are crossing over to occupy is a land of hills and valleys watered by rain from the sky, 12 a land that the Lord your God looks after. The eyes of the Lord your God are always on it, from the beginning of the year to the end of the year. (Deuteronomy 11:11-12)
17 Yet he has not left himself without a witness in doing good, giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons and filling you with food and your hearts with joy.” (Acts 14:17)
For my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living water,
and dug out cisterns for themselves, cracked cisterns that can hold no water. (Jeremiah 2:13)
Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation. (Mark 16:15)
Make disciples…. equipping the saints for the work of service. (Mt. 28:19; Eph. 4:12)
From International Ministries’ Responding to the Call document:
“The narrative of Scripture and, most especially, Jesus himself, reveal that God’s mission is nothing less than the healing, reconciliation, liberation, and salvation of all of creation (2 Corinthians 5:19; Ephesians 1:9-10).”
“International Ministries will promote care for God’s creation through improved agricultural practices, promoting the use of renewable resources and environmental stewardship.”
Something to Ponder
One of the persons I have learned the most from, about rainwater harvesting, is Brad Lancaster, from Tuscon, AZ.
He recently said something that stunned me.
“More rain falls on the surface of Tucson in a typical year than the entire population of Tucson consumes of municipal water in a year,”
Throughout Central America, countries receive up to five times as much rain, and yet the constant refrain is, “there’s no water,” because in many cases, subterranean and freshwater resources are depleted or contaminated by extractive industries. Water is trucked in, rationed out, sold as bottled water.
The Water for All Project, and the work of RECONPAZ, and our work as IM Global Servants, is to equip churches to testify to God’s plan for all creation in word and deed.