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$20 TURNED INTO OVER $20,000

Imagine that your child asked you for a cup of water, not even clean water, and you could not meet that need. Few of us have to think twice about providing for our children their desire for the latest electronic gizmo. Perhaps we scratch our heads about how to work it into the budget, but clean water? That is not even on our radar. Yet our world is filled with under-resourced countries where families face just such a dilemma every day.

Yet, what can someone from Howard County do?

Cornerstone Community Church, in Columbia, has been seeking to reach out to the poor in a new kind of way. Perhaps you have heard the adage: rather than giving a man a fish, teach him to fish. Rather than just doing good deeds with mission trips, Cornerstone is striving to develop deep relationships. Through relationships, they discover what the true needs are and find culturally sensitive ways to partner together, rather than focusing on perceived need. “We seek to know the people we are reaching out to, humbly learn from each other and work as partners toward resolving tough issues,” reports Cornerstone pastor Bruce Hopler. His church has found a way to take the abilities of a church filled with entrepreneurs and professional business people, and use those skills in partnering with people in under-resourced areas to reduce some of the dilemmas caused by poverty.

“On June 3rd we did something that I have never personally seen done before,” shares Pastor Hopler. Cornerstone began the service with a “reverse offering.” Offering plates were passed around handing out $20 bills. Each family was asked to take one. Hopler then taught through the Parable of the Talents, found in Matthew 25. “Jesus told this story where three servants were asked to invest a man’s money while he was gone on an extended trip. Two were faithful to do so, one was not” Pastor Hopler shared. He then told those in attendance about how their friends in the Dominican Republic desperately need wells, with water purification systems, so they can have clean water. These are some of the same people with whom people at Cornerstone have been building friendships. Making the well possible would not only meet the immediate need, it would also create a small economic engine that could change people’s lives. “They can actually sell the water at a reduced rate, still turn a profit, and then start resolving other poverty issues in the community, beyond providing the community with clean reliable water!” Hopler shared happily.

Each family was given three weeks to invest the money and bring back the profits. “We wanted them to be relationally engaged in the project, not just take money from their pockets. I told them that the money they had been given was not their own, it was mission money set aside for the well project.” Rather then sending the $1500 to their friends in the Dominican Republic, Cornerstone Community Church gave the money away to find creative ways to make the money grow.

“I had not foreseen the enthusiasm that would be unleashed. People were buying $20 of ingredients and selling baked goods. They were running raffles, swim-a-thons, using the money to advertise for garage sales and then donating all of the profits, hosting charity events, using $20 of stamps to enlist corporate sponsors, buying water and reselling it cold at sporting events – the list goes on and on.”

Well, it worked. So far, rather than just sending $1500, Cornerstone is sending over $20,000!

They will be working with an organization called The Red Del Camino, which is setting up a fund that will allow for wells to be established all over Latin America.

Additional tax-deductible donations can be sent to Cornerstone Community Church, 6570 Dobbin Road, Columbia Maryland, 21045 with the memo “WELL PROJECT”. More information about Cornerstone Community Church can be found at