Campus church group donates water filters to Haitian communities
After a polite smile at the barista, you turn, pumpkin spice latte in hand, to face the all-too-familiar, black-and-blue sign that reads “Ignite” on a crowded table of loud, bubbly students. This must be more than a dozen times you have seen a sign or shirt on campus this week alone, yet you realize you still have no idea what “Ignite” even is.
As a Christian club at a secular university, Ignite has shocked many with its size alone — 415 members and always on the rise. These Florida Gulf Coast University students attend their “club meeting” weekly in the form of a service at Summit Church adjacent to campus.
This school year, these services have expanded upon Ignite’s theme of “Every student. Every year” to be a global, rather than local, message. With the announcement of its 2014-15 school year initiative, Project Hope, it is quite clear this global goal was a legitimate call to action.
Project Hope is a partnership between Mission of Hope and Filter of Hope.
“They are two very different things,” college pastor Doug Paul said, “and we’re going to bring them together like two hands that are joining.”
Mission of Hope, Haiti provides housing for 65 orphans, education and health care for the local community, and food for 54,000 Haitians each day. After introducing MOH, Paul surprised most by not asking for money, but instead, manpower. With more than a dozen students so far taking off the spring or summer semester to intern in Haiti, you could say the call to action has been answered.
Continuing on the theme of hope in a different respect, the second organization has the manpower and technology, but not the money necessary, to reach all in need. Filter of Hope is found adjacent to MOH on the opposite side of the island of Hispaniola — in the Dominican Republic. As with Haiti, the Dominican Republic is notorious for its terrible living conditions, but Filter of Hope aims to fix this in a domino effect by first correcting what it considers the main problem for the nation — its limited access to clean water. This goal can be reached with the distribution of gravity-fed water filters provide up to 150 gallons of water a day to each family. Each filter, which only costs $40, can last up to 10 years with minimal maintenance, meaning each filter could essentially provide a family with 500,000 gallons of clean water.
FGCU student Christian Cathey worked with Filter of Hope last October and was able to provide a clearer image of the organization’s full mission.
“We’re not there just for their physical needs. We’re not just there to be good people — to give them something they don’t have,” Cathey said. “We’re also there to give them Jesus.”
Cathey explained that the filters serve as a fitting visual aid, so families can “really see and tangibly understand how the gospel and how Christ has come to heal them in their sickness.” Thus, the story of salvation is easily ministered to them through the image the filtration provides: the uncleanliness of the water playing the role of sin; the Christian savior, Jesus Christ, as the filter; and the individual as the water throughout the process.
So, in a world where 4,000 people die from unclean water each day, Ignite hopes to change the fate of at least a fraction of those at risk with a goal of $15,000 for Filter of Hope by the first week of November.
Although the goal might sound crazy, given that it is more than the cost of a student’s yearly tuition at FGCU, Ignite is looking to its small groups, called “missional communities,” to do most of the legwork. The 15 communities are teaming up in an effort to raise $1,000 for each of their respective communities. The biggest feat is not the fundraising, though, but the question of how to raise the money without being allowed to sell items on campus.
Some communities plan to throw a party with an entry fee, while others will try their luck on online sales of items such as handmade jewelry. A likely fan favorite is also in the works in the form of a 7-on-7 football tournament at Summit Church in the near future.
For those interested in more information about the tournament, Project Hope or Ignite, check them out on Facebook (profile: “Ignite Fgcu,” open group: “FGCU Ignite”), Instagram and Twitter (@fgcuignite), or at collegeignite.com.