Wednesday, October 27, 2010

OC Residents Help to Build Water Well for Indian Leper Colony

Easy access to fresh water is something we here in Southern California can take for granted. For a small monthly fee, we have it at our disposal for everything from brushing our teeth to washing our cars, and even for cooking and drinking. But for those living in remote parts of the world, fresh water is often not easy to come by, fee or no fee.

For mothers living in a village in Southeast India, they can only wish they could relieve their children’s thirst and wash their babies' blankets or clean the wounds on their leprosy-inflicted bodies with fresh water. But thanks to some generous people who live on the other side of the world, this yearned-for amenity is about to become a reality.

Over a year ago, pastors at Cypress Church were told of the need for a fresh-water well in a leper colony to which a fellow pastor in India ministers. They, in turn, passed the details on to church members, most of who live in Cypress and the surrounding cities, of how the previously displaced Indian residents receive water only a few hours a day from a small hose.

During last year's holiday season, the church taught a series called "Simply Christmas," in which members were challenged to give more of their time and/or finances, particularly to the poor. It was this challenge that inspired many to contribute funds to this well in southeastern India.

Today, not only is one well being about to be drilled, partly through the generous contributions of people from a community on the other side of the world, but a second will break ground before the end of the year, as well.

Cypress Church Pastors Mike McKay and Takeshi Takazawa visited this past month the part of India where the leper colony is located. While there they visited those who will be recipients of the well. "Lepers today in this area of India are shunned and looked down on and no one wants them anywhere near them," explains Pastor McKay. "They are seen as bad luck or having done something very bad for the gods to have punished them with this disease."

"There is a fear their leprosy is contagious," he adds. "Because of these stigmas no one will hire them or buy anything from them. The lepers are left to beg and do their best to live off the land and fend for themselves."

In addition to Cypress Church financially committing to help the wells be built, it also is partnering with the Indian pastor who first told of the need. He and the church where he serves will oversee the work and continue to care for the people in that community. "This church, like Cypress Church, seeks to show the grace and help of God by meeting needs of the poor," says McKay.

A portion of the funds raised by church members was through an event that was held last December at Campus Billiards in Cypress. Nick Stonoha, who works at the establishment and attends Cypress Church, was given permission by the owner for Nick's small group Bible study to hold a fundraiser. After almost 100 rounds of pool later, patrons and employees helped raise approximately $1,200.

There were several reasons why Nick says he and his Bible study group chose to contribute to the well's construction. Reducing disease was one of them, but also because the results of helping would be something tangible. "Because we knew we could get reports on its progress, results could be seen," he says. "We take for granted having fresh water. For these people [who live in the leper colony] it is an every-day dilemma where they will get fresh water," Nick adds.

This coming holiday season those who attend Cypress Church will again be encouraged to generously give both financially and of their time in ways closer to home. People who do not attend the church but want to help are encouraged to volunteer.

On Thanksgiving, the church's youth ministry will be serving meals in South Los Angeles. At the same time, a separate group will be disbursing close to 600 meals at MacArthur Park in Los Angeles, as well, via "The Holy Grill," a traveling barbeque. Making and distributing blankets and hats to the homeless are more ways that the public is welcome to participate.

"We are seeking out ways to help the needs in Cypress and the eleven cities that surround it," says Pastor McKay of the church’s desire to help the poor. "We have also looked beyond our borders, connecting with local churches and organizations in different countries to give some tangible expressions of God*s love."

If you are interested in learning more about any of the above service projects, contact Cypress Church at (714) 952-3001 or online at The public may also interact with the Cypress Church community on Facebook, and Twitter. The church campus is located at 6143 Ball Road just east of Valley View. The public is welcome at Sunday services and Bible studies that are held at 8:45 and 10:30 a.m. as well as many other activities throughout each week.

Photo Caption – Pastors Mike McKay and Takeshi Takazawa with Leper colony residents at the future site of the fresh-water well.

Cypress Church - 6143 Ball Rd. - Cypress, CA 90630 - Phone: (714) 952-3001 -

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