LWW Founder Wil Howie with long-time LWW volunteer Pierce Buford.
Q: When did you first hear about LWW?
I was a development officer with the Presbyterian Church (USA) Foundation, developing a plan for synod fundraising when Living Waters for the World was just getting started.
Q: What drew you to become a part of LWW’s early leadership?
As I watched what started out with only a few people believing in Wil Howie's dream to more people bringing their talents and experience to help his dream become a reality, I knew I wanted to be part of this mission, even if in a small way.
Pierce preparing to welcome students to Clean Water U at Camp Hopewell.
Q: It must have been fun starting from scratch …
There was no model to go by, just enthusiastic people who believed that with God's help the mission would be successful. So, not even realizing it, I began running my "mouth of the south" as Jane Hines, former editor of the Synod's newspaper "The Voice" described me, telling about LWW. Of course there were the obvious reasons to emphasize - providing clean water is an exciting mission that leads to improved health... having the opportunity to use water which can be seen, touched, tasted as a way to explain Jesus Christ as living water for our body and soul. Of course, some of the not-so-obvious reasons to get involved are just as powerful.
Q: What in your view are some of those other reasons?
Living Waters for the World provides an opportunity for everyone in the congregation to be involved, not just those going on the installation and education trips. From the youngest to the oldest, from the persons with the least to those with great material assets, from the healthiest to those with health problems, there is a role for everyone to play.
Another powerful aspect of LWW is how it brings us together. Everyone, regardless of age, sexual orientation, political and theological views, economic status, etc. has to have water. Becoming a partner with LWW can bring a congregation who is struggling together; bringing peace where there is dissension.
Q: Pierce, for years, you have been the “face” of Living Waters for the World, both at Clean Water U training and at the various conferences we attend. What has that experience been like?
In the early days of CWU, there were no models to go by or textbooks we could order. Once again, the gifts and skills of persons present were used. The "staff" consisted of Wil, you, Emily (Dunbar) and me and the instructors for the three courses. I had so much fun preparing snacks for CWU participants following the day’s activities, wanting to extend Southern hospitality to all. Following each CWU I became more enthusiastic and couldn’t wait to share the story wider.
A small version of the system was constructed to use as part of a conference display as well as educational materials and pictures of various installations. God sent Kathy and Jerry Vaughan and I no longer traveled alone. We traveled thousands of miles to conferences through all kinds of weather - I learned about "thunder snow"! – and shared the LWW story with thousands of people. It has been such a fun and exciting time. The "Martha" in me has worked overtime and I’ve never been happier than when "doing" LWW/CWU.
CWU staff at Camp Hopewell: (left to right) Bill Williams, Pierce, Steve Young, Joanie Lukins, Wil, and Remi Van Compernolle.
Q: Pierce, thanks so much for visiting with us, this has been great. In closing, how do you think you’ve been impacted personally by your involvement with Living Waters for the World?
Well, there’s no doubt that a great blessing I have received is being closely associated with deeply spiritual people. I have become more and more aware that I need to be intentional in helping this “Martha” become more spiritual like Mary, yet still be Martha! It is a slow process but I have good examples to follow.