Praise band raises funds for safe water

By Judith Santiago, Special Contributor • • •

JC Reigns

PHOTO BY AMY NOVAK • • • Members of the JC Reigns praise band in Arlington, Va., include (back row, l to r): Thomas Joyce, Steve Mutter, Kevin Havens, Hunter Jones, Stan McMullen, Diane Wilhite and Mike Muzyka. In front are Mike Quinn and Sue Walia.

When the Rev. Kevin Havens of Mt. Olivet United Methodist Church, Arlington, Va., saw a photograph of a girl on a donkey in a developing country, and learned how far she had to travel every day to get water for her family, he says, “My whole perspective changed.”

At that moment, says Mr. Havens, who was attending an event at Ginghamsburg United Methodist Church in Ohio, he realized how so many of us take water for granted. The moment became a seed that would spring Mr. Havens’ Christian praise band, JC Reigns, into action to raise awareness and money for fresh, sanitary water.

“A paradigm shift occurred that fall,” Mr. Havens says now. “I had always seen our band as leading worship, not raising awareness.”

That night, Mr. Havens learned more about the work of the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) and decided to utilize the power of music and worship to raise awareness about the lack of access to safe water around the world. He leveraged JC Reigns, in coordination with the release of a new album, and held two benefit concerts for UMCOR water projects.

JC Reigns is a multi-generational, multi-denominational praise team composed of various professionals, including accountants, lawyers, policemen, and at least one United Methodist pastor. One of their concerts was held last November to promote their third album, entitled Jesus Christ . . . All Access, and the second event, “Thirsting for Christ,” encouraged congregants to participate in a water-fast for six hours.

During the fasting event, JC Reigns used mixed images for participants to ponder. For instance, there was a photograph of a beautiful pond in the U.S., and another of a man in China carrying on a stick two buckets full of water. The images flipped back and forth, continuously engaging participants to meditate on what they were seeing, from fresh water to mud holes.

In the end, both events stirred interest, action and generosity. JC Reigns raised $25,000 for UMCOR water projects, surpassing their $20,000 goal. This summer, several more concerts will be held in Pennsylvania and Virginia to raise additional funds for UMCOR through the Global Water and Sanitation Advance #3020600.

“We are so pleased and humbled by Mt. Olivet’s efforts and generosity toward UMCOR,” says Landon Taylor, manager of church relations for UMCOR. “And, we know that Mt. Olivet is just one example of the many United Methodist churches engaged in God’s mission in the world through UMCOR.”

The monies raised by JC Reigns will support the Waiting Women’s Shelter, a condemned building that is a functioning part of Old Mutare Hospital in Zimbabwe, where there is currently no running water or working bathrooms. The hospital provides services to pregnant women who are about to give birth.

Divinely appointed gift

In addition to the photograph that caused Mr. Havens to wonder about how to meet the needs of those who have little or no access to fresh water, there was another catalyst for his band’s action.

“Someone gave us $3,000 and said ‘Multiply it for the Kingdom,’” says Mr. Havens. “We didn’t know what cause we were going to pick. But it all came together in the fall.”

Mr. Havens used the seed money to produce and record the JC Reigns album. When the people involved in the project learned about the water cause, doors began to swing open. The music studio offered them a reduced rate, and everyone they came into contact with chipped in their services. JC Reigns sold the new CD for the “asking price” of $15.00, but many gave above and beyond to support the ministry.

Aside from the benefit concerts and album production, yet another seed was planted. Mt. Olivet’s youth got a taste of what it means to have no water.

Through the church’s Jeremiah Project, where youth help vulnerable communities with small repair work, 200 youth settled in for dinner after a hard day’s work. They sat at the dinner table and said grace, but noticed their cups were empty. They were instructed to take their cup and walk down a dusty road to get water from someone who was waiting for them with a jug filled with water. They walked a quarter of a mile each way, and the exercise showed them what most people must do in developing countries to obtain water.

“When I saw those kids going down that road, I just thought, what a great life lesson this is for them,” says Mr. Havens. “Here, some of these kids just don’t get to appreciate [our water supply], and we just take this water for granted,” he says.

For more information visit www.jcreigns.org, and view the band’s “Thirsting for Christ” video at www.youtube.com/watch?v=lARxl2eeWas.

 

Ms. Santiago is the media communications associate for the United Methodist Committee on Relief.

To contribute to “Water and Sanitation,” UMCOR Advance #3020600, go to http://new.gbgm-umc.org/umcor/.

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