Church members prepare to head back to coast

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 13, 2005

NATCHEZ &045; Few things are as taken for granted, or as essential to life itself, as clean water.

But when Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast and New Orleans, causing flooding and widespread damage, clean water was one of the first things to go.

Fortunately for residents on the Gulf Coast, however, help wasn’t far away. Volunteers with Franklin, Tenn.-based organization Living Waters for the World were already trained in installing water purification systems.

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And last week, volunteers from Mississippi, Kentucky, Alabama and Tennessee &045; including two from Natchez &045; arrived on the Coast to install such systems and give residents there the gift of clean water.

George and Linda Bates, members of First Presbyterian Church of Natchez, helped install two systems in the Bay St. Louis-Diamondhead area on Friday alone.

&uot;It’s something we never thought we’d see &045; a water system designed for third-world countries being used here in our own country,&uot; George Bates said, shaking his head. &uot;The things you see down there Š people in shock Š it’s all that you see on the news and more.&uot;

They’ll return today and stay through the end of the week to assist further with the organization’s relief effort.

This time around, they’ll provide residents of that area with 5-gallon buckets filled with cleaning supplies gathered by the Bates and other Natchezians. They’ll also host a fellow volunteer from Florida who is coming to the Coast to assess the damage and see how his church can best be of help. They will also help a Bay St. Louis church led by former First Presbyterian Natchez pastor Dr. Ted Hanawalt clean up and do repair work.

&uot;And we’ll go down a couple of more times&uot; to help with water purification efforts on the Coast, George Bates said while taking a break from assembling the buckets full of cleaning supplies.

But the Bates’ involvement with Living Waters actually has its roots in mission work the couple did in Brazil and Mexico starting in 1998, work George Bates said they were introduced to through fellow church members such as Lee Jones and Ron Miller.

Through such mission work, including helping build an educational center and conducting a Bible study in Mexico, the Bates found out about Living Waters.

Why this particular ministry? Not only is clean water essential to life, but it’s mentioned in Scripture, George Bates pointed out.

&uot;Every eight seconds, someone in the world dies from water-borne illnesses, usually something that could have been prevented&uot; had such water purification systems been available, George Bates said.

&uot;Besides, Jesus said ‘If you give a cup of cold water to someone in my name, it’s like you’re doing it for me.’


George Bates added he and his wife will return to the Coast as many times as they’re needed and then continue with their work in other countries.

Contributions may be mailed to Living Waters for the World, 318 Seaboard Lane, Suite 205, Franklin, TN 37067. For information on how you can help, such as volunteering or making an online donation, visit the group’s Web site at