Ole Miss Football Players Help Provide Clean Water to Village of 7,000 During Mission Trip In Haiti

Ole Miss football player Christian Russell spends playful moments with a young Haitian during a mission trip to help provide clean water and share their faith in a village of 7,000 people.
Ole Miss football player Christian Russell spends playful moments with a young Haitian during a mission trip to help provide clean water and share their faith in a village of 7,000 people.

When University of Mississippi defensive end John Youngblood takes a break during the team’s practices, he isn’t likely to take a drink of cold, clean water for granted.

And in the locker room, Youngblood, an Ole Miss junior, and teammate Christian Russell, a senior linebacker, likely will have greater appreciation for a refreshing shower.

The players’ gratitude for fresh, convenient water — and other common necessities — stems from a mission trip to Haiti last spring with 11 teammates among the volunteers to help provide safe water for a village of 7,000 people.

“A lot of guys had no idea the struggles of other cultures and the poverty — how bad things are there,” said Youngblood, who visited the village, Camp Marie, during a similar spring break trip in 2014.

“We’re kind of spoiled,” Russell said. “We tend to complain” when, in reality, “we’re really blessed.” The people of Camp Marie spend their days “trying to find clean water” amid concerns about “where the next meal is coming from,” Russell said.

But now, one thing Camp Marie residents no longer will deal with is finding safe, clean water. Until recently, residents were drinking untreated water from a spring. But that changed in late June when the water project was completed.

Football team chaplain John Powell, who organized the mission trip, noticed Camp Marie’s circumstances during the 2014 trip to Haiti.

“[W]e saw that there wasn’t enough clean water at Camp Marie, but people were drinking and using it anyway,” said Powell, a member of First Baptist Church in Oxford, Miss., where the university is located.

In addition to the players and Powell, fourth-year head coach Hugh Freeze and his family were among the volunteers, along with coach Maurice Harris and his daughter, three team managers and two Ole Miss students.

To put the trip together, Powell worked with Wendell Robinson of 410 Bridge, who describes the organization as a “Christ-centered, community-initiated development agency. … We conduct holistic community-wide development” in the areas of discipleship, education, economic development, and health and wellness. Robinson, who accompanied the Ole Miss team to Camp Marie, is the organization’s U.S. program director for Haiti.

410 Bridge partners with the nonprofit Christian engineering organization Water Missions International to help “with complicated water projects like the one in Camp Marie,” Robinson noted in an email.

Powell said, “They started the water project while we were there. We tapped into the water source and helped build a buried clean water line,” which takes the water into a disinfection system prior to distributing it at several tap stands in Camp Marie.

In addition to helping build a safe water system, the Ole Miss team’s mission included sharing with the people of Camp Marie how to find the “living water” of salvation.

When they weren’t working on the water project, “we divided into groups and went to the homes and prayed with people in the village,” Powell said. “We went to the church on Sunday. One of our guys sang.”

That guy is Russell, who said, “As I was singing and playing the piano, they couldn’t understand what I was singing” but “could feel me through God’s Spirit.”

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SOURCE: Baptist Press – Tim Tune