Our Story

The use of the name Men of Willow came about from the initiative to raise money to fund a water purification project that began through the regional Men's Breakfast Groups. Men who attended these breakfast meetings are also involved in other groups and ministries. The word of this project spread to groups , such as C.A.R.S. and Computer Connection.

 

All these groups are connected to Willow Creek Community Church, although it is not limited to those who attend Willow, nor is it limited to men.

 

While some may interpret the name “Men of Willow” as an official ministry of Willow Creek Community Church, it is not. We are an affiliation of various groups bonded by our faith in Christ, our connection to Willow Creek and a passion to provide safe drinking water where people are suffering and children are dying for lack of it .

 

The “Men of Willow Water Purification Project”, from the beginning, has had an open door of communication with the Compassion and Justice Ministry at Willow. While we are not under the umbrella of their leadership we have been motivated by their encouragement.

 

A committee was formed for the purpose of organizing and communicating the idea of raising funds for a water project. Each person on the committee is a long time member of Willow Creek Community Church. Current committee members are Bill McGraw, Patrick Walsh, Vern Boelkins and Don Neuman. We fully support the ministries of Willow. We also recognize that each member of the body of Christ is personally responsible for listening and responding to the leading of the Spirit in their own lives. As members of Willow Creek and as long as we use the name “Men of Willow” we are committed to serve God and support our church harmoniously. We endeavor to guard against any activity that would be harmful or non-productive. We ask that all contributions be above and beyond, and not in lieu of our giving to the church or any other church sponsored initiatives.

 

The name “Men of Willow” may suggest exclusivity. While we are identified through our connection with various men's groups all are invited and welcome to support the cause to provide safe water for those in need, as well as other needs that are precented from time to time. In our handouts and updates we address Men of Willow, friends and family. Women are certainly included. Friends and family members who do not attend Willow are invited to participate, and they have.

Our Purpose

 Initially, our goal was to raise $30,000 to fund a safe water project through Water Missions International. We began with the name “Men of Willow Water Purification Project.” It was later shortened to “Men of Willow.” Our updates are addresses to Men of Willow friends and family. The reason for this was to be more inclusive and to recognize that contributors included more than just men from Willow. Substantial contributions have been made by those who do not attend Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington.

 Having funded our first project we were inclined to continue raising funds for additional water projects. The reasons are threefold.

#1 The positive response and feedback from the first project in Ndejje, Uganda is extremely encouraging.

#2 A number of people had expressed an interest in supporting another project.

#3 We had a balance in the Men of Willow account at Water Missions International that puts us nearly 40 % of the way toward funding a second project.

By November 2011 we had exceeded our goal to fund a second project. On February 15th of 2013 clean water began to flow in Kitende, Uganda.

Project #3 After funding our second project, we, once again, had a significant surplus in our account at Water Missions International. This, along with encouragement from our numerous supporters, we continued our funding efforts toward a third water-purification project and on November 20, 2014 the water system in Kabawanga, Uganda went into operation.

At the same time that we had been raising funds and working with Water Missions International our relationship with Glory Center Church was growing. Through them we became aware of other needs, some of which, we sense God's leading to respond to.

While we owe a debt of gratitude to Water Missions International for introducing us to the need and solution to the global water crisis, we feel that our next water project (#4) can be done more effectively, with better accountability, provide more water to more people at far less cost by working directly through, our partner, Glory Center Church. (details of this project were given in the June 2015 update.) http://www.menofwillow.com/updates#TOC-June-2015-Update-Edition-69-

Tax exempt contributions can be made through our banking agent online or mail a check to:Thttp://crossconnecting.net/network-partners/glory-center-uganda/he Cross Connecting Network, 2640 Crooked Stick Lane, Mt. Pleasant, SC 29466

Please be sure to write Uganda in the memo section of your check.

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This is an ongoing story as reported in our monthly updates. These can be found on our website at http://www.menofwillow.com/

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The Effect

 As stated above our initial purpose was to fund a safe water project. What we have and are experiencing is something like what Paul said in Eph.3:20. God has done immeasurably more than all we could ask for or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.

 This all began with a hesitant response to an uncertain whisper from God. “Raise money to fund a safe water project.” We had no idea if people would give enough to such a cause. Our goal was $30,000. Within three and half years nearly $100,000 has been given.The Living Water Treatment System is up and running in the Ndejje and Kitende and Kabawanga Communities in Uganda. We are developing a meaningful relationship with the people of Glory Center Church where the water systems are located. We have united men from all across Willow to join in together for a common cause. We are keeping people informed of what God is doing through the water system. But as good as all that is we have found that this is much more than our desire to make a difference in the world. This was God's plan all along. Whenever we open ourselves up to God's leading, when we let go of our resources, whether it be for this cause or another there is a spiritual dynamic that takes place. God does a cleansing, purifying work in our hearts. God moves us in ways that cannot be manufactured by human ingenuity. There is a joy and a peace and a purpose comes from trusting in the Lord with all our hearts – including our money. While that effect is certainly not limited to this initiative, it has been a very integral part of this project.


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