LEWISTOWN - A local couple is extending their Christian outreach with an effort to fund a water well in Sierra Leone, Africa.
John Dill, a member of Grace United Methodist Church, in Lewistown, said he was doing his devotions one morning when a television broadcast by Jim and Betty Robinson, on LIFE Today, caught his attention. The program highlighted the lack of clean water available in some parts of the world.
"There are children dying every day from dirty water," Dill said. "Watching those children ... I had such a sadness in my heart."
Curt Knouse, right, Volunteers in Missions Director for the Susquehanna Conference of the United Methodist Church, operates a hand-pump well in 2011 in Sierra Leone, Africa.
A hand-pump water well is shown in Sierra Leone, Africa. John and Carol Dill, members of Grace United Methodist Church, in Lewistown, are raising money to fund another well in the area. One well will cost $5,000 and will serve about 2,000 people.
Photos submitted by JOHN DILL
In some areas, water contamination is secondary to availability. Dill said women travel for hours to find any water at all, let alone a clean source.
While he watched the program, Dill decided to take action.
"He was gung-ho from day one," about helping the cause, said his wife, Carol.
John began organizing "Operation Dig A Well," gathering support from his family, friends and church. He also connected with Lee Weaver, of Mifflintown, who has been digging wells in Sierra Leone, Africa, since 1995, under the direction of the Susquehanna Conference of the United Methodist Church.
Dill's goal is to raise at least $5,000, which will fund one well to serve about 2,000 people. Money raised will be handled by the church and given directly to Weaver for the initiative, he said.
"I'm relying on God to give us the full $5,000," Dill said.
If additional money is raised, the team will fund more than one well.
But Dill says the outreach is more than an opportunity to save lives here on Earth. Sierra Leone is also a good location for missionaries to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ and spiritual well-being, he said. Dill quoted scripture from Matthew 28:19, which says, "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."
He also referenced John 4:5-15, which tells of Jesus' encounter with a woman at a well in Samaria. According to the passage, Jesus told her, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life."
Dill said drilling a well will not only give people water to drink but also will share the love of Christ.
"When you can go to your faucet and get clean water ... they can't do that," Carol said.
While the church heads other mission projects locally, the Dills see this opportunity as a chance to extend their mission work beyond this community.
"We want people to pray about it," John said, as Carol added that there is no gift too small.
The Dills hope other local church groups and area residents are interested in helping. The couple said they are available to speak with individuals, groups or congregations who would like more information.
John said anytime something of interest happens, advocates tend to say, "somebody should do something."
"I want to be that somebody" he said.
Financial donations for Operation Dig A Well will be handled through an account at Grace United Methodist Church. Checks may be mailed to Grace UMC, 101 Logan St., Lewistown. Donors should make the check out to the church and make sure "Well Drilling Project" is written in the memo line.
For more information or to schedule a presentation with John and Carol Dill, call 242-3430.