By Denise Dick
To date, a mission organization founded by a Boardman native and his wife has helped drill 27 wells in the Peruvian Amazon jungle, and students at Youngstown Christian School are raising money to drill another.
Tom Redding, who grew up in Boardman, and his wife, Paula, founded Mission Outfitter, an organization that trains and outfits short-term mission work. They’ve worked in Mexico, Guatemala and Romania, and most of their current efforts are focused on Peru, where they’ve been since 2007.
“Eighty percent of the sickness and disease we were seeing was caused by people drinking bad water,” Redding, who lies in Bayfield, Colo., told Youngstown Christian students Tuesday.
The rainy season runs from March through May, but the rest of the year, the people in the villages the group visited must walk a mile to retrieve water from the river, and it’s full of bacteria.
Mission Outfitter determined that sustainable wells were what the people needed.
Mission Outfitter practices what Redding calls compassion evangelism. It’s “seeing people’s need and meeting that need before we ever say a word,” he said.
Through their work, they share the Gospel.
The organization has drilled 27 sustainable wells so far. Each is about 100 feet deep. The cost is $1,850 per well, which serves four to five households.
Many more are needed to serve all of the people who lack clean water in the Peruvian jungle. Donations may be made online at www.feettofaith.com.
Redding has known Youngstown Christian Spanish teacher Liz Samuel for years, and Samuel shared what Mission Outfitter is doing with her classes.
One of those students, Steve Breidenstein, 16, a junior, wanted to help. Last year, he launched a fundraiser, collecting donations as he played video games for 24 hours.
He raised $130.
“Livestream is something I’ve heard about other people doing for other causes, and they’ve raised thousands of dollars,” he said.
The water project seemed like a good fit.
“Water is something I don’t even really think about,” Steve said.
But during the 24 hours of his video-game-playing fundraiser, he downed five bottles.
“I thought, five bottles of water would be the world to them,” he said.
He’s doing it again from 5 p.m. Nov. 22 to 5 p.m. Nov. 23, and people can watch at twitch.tv/theeveryman.
Other students are helping, too.
Samuel is selling bottles of water for $1 to raise money for a well. Students have to ask for the water in Spanish. With the $130 Steve raised last year and the money from the bottled water, the total stands at $250.
Redding said when he told a man he knows in Tennessee of the school’s efforts to raise money for a well, the man offered to match every dollar raised by the students up to $1,000.
“We’ll have a plaque that says, ‘Youngstown Christian School,’” Redding said.