“Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good.” Gen 1:3
Located in the small rural town of Pilesgrove, NJ, sits a church that has extended the love of God by making clean drinking water possible for people over 7,500 miles away. Sharptown UMC, whose people often remark how missions are their heartbeat, has not let the recent pandemic stop them from continuing this vital mission.
“We have been doing this for several years. It grew out of a heartbeat of someone in our congregation,” said Kristen Raine, a former biochemist who since 2014 has been the church’s director of ministry. Prior to this role, she served as the director of children’s ministry. Along the way she has discovered her calling and is now studying to be a pastor.
In early October, the congregation carried buckets of water from the Delaware River for a mile and a half as part of The Zambia Well Project, a partnership between the church and The Living Water Project, to raise funds and awareness for needed water wells in a country where more than half of the population lives below the poverty line.
The fundraising effort made enough money to provide five new wells, which will provide about 2,500 people with access to clean drinking water, particularly girls and women who are often in charge of collecting water for their villages and homes. Women and girls sometimes walk extremely long distances to fetch water, leaving little time for studies, and subjecting them to violence along the way.
“The connection with the Sharptown Church is nothing short of a ‘God thing,’ where they had it on their hearts to help people with safe drinking water, and they literally just came across our organization by some combination of listening to the Holy Spirit and Googling,” said Kevin Colvett, a board member for the Zambia Well Project.
By raising money for this organization, Sharptown Church are helping improve the health and safety of the residents of people in Zambia who have been proactive by setting up handwashing stations at the village wells; and designating a person to be the sole pumper of the wells so that there can be some amount of social distancing and fewer hands touching the well pump.
But the church’s mission does not stop there. Sharptown also continued their spread of kindness and discipleship through the Operation Christmas Child project this year, collecting more than a thousand shoeboxes from the congregation and another thousand from the community filled with gifts for impoverished children throughout the world. Since 1970, Samaritan’s Purse, who runs Operation Christmas Child, has helped meet needs of people who are victims of war, poverty, natural disasters, disease and famine with the purpose of sharing God’s love.
“People need signs of hope more than ever before. We have a lot of people with servant hearts who share that hope,” said Raine who stressed that the boxes were packed in one-hour intervals over the course of several days so that all state guidelines and recommendations for social distancing could be followed. “We required pre-registration and sanitized between each session.”
Closer to home, Raine said that in addition to lending their space to the Red Cross for monthly blood drives, the church’s food ministry drops off boxes of essential food to about 15-20 families. For Christmas, they ramped up their efforts, delivering to nearly 70 families.
The people of Sharptown have always embraced mission. From supporting foreign missionaries from Africa to Guatemala with financial support as well as prayer, to impacting the lives of homeless people through Family Promise. They have sent short-term teams to China to teach; to Argentina, Guatemala and Haiti to build; and to Louisiana to support those struck by a hurricane. Youth have also spent weeks in the summer working in Mexico, Kentucky and Ireland helping to build the lives of others by sharing the Gospel of Christ.
“Our objective is to reach out through the love of Christ to our town, county, nation and world,” said Raine. “It is our prayer that God will use us to be His witnesses in Jerusalem [congregation], Judea [Salem County], Samaria [United States] and the world.”
To learn more about their missions, visit https://sharptown.org/get-involved/outreach-and-missions/foreign-missions/