The Athens Review
There are global ministries that drop in and leave, and then there are global ministries that invest.
Both serve the needs of those who are commonly — and literally — living in life-or-death conditions. The latter type, the type that invests, aims not only to affect change, but to do it on a long-term basis.
That latter type describes the ministries of The Ethiopia Aid Mission — also known as TEAM, consisting of 10-12 churches in Texas and a few other states — and Athens-based Hope Springs Water. First Baptist Church of Athens is a member of TEAM.
A group from the church recently returned from yet another visit to the Bantu district in Ethiopia — a region the church has essentially adopted over the last few years. On this most recent visit, which began around March 15 and ended on March 25, the local TEAM members held a medical clinic.
Three doctors saw around 300 patients with varying medical issues, some severe.
“It was pretty interesting,” said Dr. Ted Mettetal, executive director of Hope Springs Water who was also one of the doctors on the medical mission trip. He was joined by Dr. Richard David, Dr. Steve Walling, pharmacist Steve Basore, Pam Williams, who is nurse supervisor for OB at East Texas Medical Center Athens, Katy Faulk, FBC Athens Minister of Missions Steve Akin, Katy Davis and TEAM coordinator Jim Palmer.
TEAM members visit the district several times a year, joining with local ministries to serve the needs of the people in that area. Among those needs being met is providing clean water for the area, which has been given through wells funded by the Hope Springs ministry.
Hope Springs Water is bottled and sold in several area locations, including at the Athens Brookshires grocery store. All profits are used to dig wells around the world where there is little to no clean water. Mettetal said Hope Springs has provided 14 wells across the globe in locations including Nicaragua, Belize, Mexico, Uganda and Ethiopia.
The basic strategy, Mettetal said, is to continue to work in the same areas to improve many aspects of life, rather than what can be accomplished on a single trip. For instance, the group from Athens not only provides clean water and medical care on trips, but it also works to educate those who are being served. Sometimes that education is a Bible school. Other times it’s a sanitation clinic to teach the natives how to properly dispose of waste so it doesn’t infect clean water sources.
Ultimately, the goal is to partner with local ministries in the locations to better serve the area on a long-term and deeper basis.
“We’re trying to get people to invest themselves in people, in the churches,” Mettetal said. “We’re not just going and digging a well and then forgetting about it.”
For more information on how you can help, or to get personally involved in this ministry or to serve as a retail location to sell Hope Springs Water, visit hopespringswater.org or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.