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Water Driller, CEO to Speak March 24 at Martinsburg Church


March 21, 2019

Jim Hocking, founder and CEO of the water-drilling ministry Water for Good, will speak in Martinsburg on Sunday, March 24 and Monday, March 25. The public is invited to attend.

The community is invited to hear Jim Hocking, founder and CEO of Water for Good, a water-drilling ministry in the Central African Republic (CAR), on Sunday, March 24, at Martinsburg Grace Brethren Church.

Hocking will speak during the ABF hour from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. in the multipurpose room (old sanctuary). At noon, everyone is invited to a carry-in dinner in the same location. An informal question-and-answer session will follow.

Hocking grew up in the Central African Republic, the son of Grace Brethren missionaries Don and Betty Hocking, who fostered in him a deep love for the country and its people. After attending Grace College in Winona Lake, Indiana, he returned to the CAR in 1977 with his new bride, Faye. The Hockings began their work training leaders for youth ministry, then followed up with a literacy campaign that launched 200 schools across the CAR, as well as provided bilingual literature in both French and Sango, the primary local language. Over the next 20 years the Hockings devoted their careers and lives to CAR, raising their four children there.

Life was never easy by American standards, but by 2002 the country faced increasing political turmoil and violence. Then, in 2003, the CAR experienced a violent coup, and the mission evacuated all of its American staff and put their work on hold. Though Hocking had to come back to the U.S., abandoning the people of CAR was not an option.

He had seen too much over the years – people's basic physical needs were unmet, AIDS was ravaging the region, and the realities of poverty and war were creating hopelessness. Hocking wanted to help address these needs and build something with the people of CAR that would be sustainable and could withstand political upheaval.

Little did he know that just a few months later, a good friend would offer to sell his well-drilling business to Hocking if Hocking would run it as a non-profit. This offer seemingly came out of the blue, and Hocking protested that he didn't know the first thing about drilling wells, let alone how to start a nonprofit. But he knew how desperately Central Africans needed clean water.

For most of the 4.7 million people who live in the Central African Republic, a nation the size of Texas, collecting water means an hour-long walk hauling heavy 44-pound jugs of water from streams, rivers and seep holes – water that isn't even sanitary. After visiting several villages in the CAR to assess their water retrieval methods, Hocking was ready to act.

"My attitude had changed by seeing the struggle these villages were having with healthcare issues," Hocking said. "Kids were dying really young and it was tragic. I realized 'This is what God's asking me to do, and I need to figure out how.'"

That act of obedience was the beginning of the non-governmental organization, "Water for Good." Remote villages in the CAR face many challenges to getting fresh water. Drilling a well is only the first step. Hocking saw that many other clean water initiatives overlooked the fact that the well pumps would inevitably break and the village would be right back where it started: without safe drinking water. He knew that sustainability was key to the success of any well, and that locals could not depend on Westerners for well maintenance – that model was financially unsustainable.

From the beginning, Hocking determined that Water for Good would not only drills wells, but rely on all local staff to provide regular well maintenance. The African staff build relationships with communities, and work with them to start projects that will prosper and empower the community long-term. When people have power over their well and begin to assert that same power in their life choices, it's transformative for a community.

Hocking started with the idea that through clean water, Central Africans could change their country. And they are. Local Central Africans have drilled more than 680 new wells and are maintaining 1,000 water pumps in the CAR. More than half a million people are drinking water from these wells every day. People are staying healthy, they're able to generate more income, and they're making a difference in their communities – for good.

Community members are welcome to attend either or both Sunday events. They are also welcome to sit in on the Perspectives class from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Monday evening, March 25, also held in the multipurpose room at MGBC, where Hocking will speak on Christian community development.

For more information, persons may email [email protected], visit '"Perspectives on the World Christian Movement-Central PA'" on Facebook or call/text (814) 327-7524.


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