From an early age, Austin Butler knew he wanted to help people.
“When I was little, my grandparents (used to) ask us, ‘What do you want to do when you grow up?’ ” and I told them either a worship pastor like my dad, a missionary or a baseball player,” he said recently. Following his passion to provide for others, Austin is now studying at Liberty University in Virginia to be a worship pastor.
In 2015, when he was senior at Big Valley Christian High School, Austin was inspired by attending a World Help event to face one of the most pressing issues facing our globe today: access to clean water. “When I saw that Third World countries were not getting the necessities that we have so easily, for me there was something I could do about it,” he said.
What he did was create Water Fore Life, a golf tournament that, in conjunction with ongoing donations and an auction, funds the construction of water wells and churches for impoverished villages in Nepal. The tournament exceeded Austin’s expectations of raising enough to build one well and one church. The money raised through the event and several generous donations allowed for four water wells and two churches in areas in Nepal.
But in April 2015, only a few months after Austin’s first Water Fore Life, a series of earthquakes topping out at 7.8 magnitude struck the impoverished country. About 9,000 people were killed, 2.6 million displaced and half a million houses decimated beyond repair. Nepal’s problems of poverty and access to clean water were amplified by the earthquakes. With poor sanitation came waterborne diseases like dysentery, typhoid and cholera. Even in the areas unaffected by the earthquake, clean water still was in scarce supply.
“They (people in Nepal) are walking 3 to 5 kilometers to get to water that isn’t even clean, so it’s then making them sick but it’s the only access they have,” said Wendy Adams, a donor advocate at World Help who’s assisted the Butlers over the past two years.
Austin and his family felt they had no choice but to continue their efforts to provide Nepal with clean water and places to practice their faith.
Since Austin was away at college last year, his younger brother, Alec, assumed the duty of conducting the event. The 2016 Water Fore Life raised $41,000, enough to provide four more wells, a church and a home.
This year, Austin and Alec Butler are working together to host a third Water Fore Life, to be held March 6 at the Del Rio Country Club. With the need of Nepal greater than ever, the brothers started preparing months in advance and are setting their sights high.
“Our goal this year is $50,000 so we can help as many villagers as we can,” said Alec, a junior at Big Valley Christian. “If we can raise a lot and God brings a lot, then we’ll use whatever we can and help wherever we need to.”
Water Fore Life is a family effort, Alec said, adding that mom Susie Butler plays a “huge role” in contacting potential donors and dealing with logistics. “Sometimes things get a little hectic, but it’s nothing that we can’t handle together as a family.”
The faith-based nonprofit organization World Help has lent great support over the past few years, the Butlers say. It determines the areas in Nepal with the most need and uses the funds the family raises to facilitate construction there.
“You see things completely start to change and turn around for these villages when clean water comes in,” said Adams. “A lot of times, children aren’t going to school because they have to be there in their families to be able to go and get that water. You just see this ripple effect of what unclean water means.”
Words of thanks from affected villagers and pictures of tangible results are perhaps the most rewarding aspects for Austin and Alec Butler. “We just got a few weeks ago pictures of our church and small home, and all the people that were impacted (by the project) were in front of the church, so we got to see them,” Alec said.
Added Alec, “Obviously, you can’t make a difference at every single point of the day, but if we can make this little difference, we want to do it.” Like his brother, Alec’s faith and aspiration to provide for others has led him to consider attending Liberty University in two years for its music program.
Each church Water Fore Life has helped establish “is a gathering place for the community,” Adams said, and plays an integral role in villagers’ lives. As Austin put it, the water wells fulfill their physical needs, but the churches supply hope.
“We may never meet these people, although we hope to,” he said. “But if we provide somebody with that little bit of eternity (and) hope and then be able to accept Christ into their hearts, that’s what makes all the difference.”
Read more at Third time for Fore, the Del Rio golf tourney to build wells, churches in Nepal