The following is a narrative of the origin of Hope Springs Water.
To fully understand the origin of Hope Springs Water, I need to take you back over thirty years and share with you some of my experiences on the mission field. My first real exposure to a foreign mission field was in the Philippine Islands in the summer of 1974. I spent three months on the island of Mindanao with the Charles Norwood missionary family working in the mission hospital at Mati and making many trips up into the interior of the island where many remote native tribesmen lived in their bamboo huts on the edge of rivers or streams. I remember seeing the natives have serious problems due to no access to pure water sources. Cholera, parasites, and typhoid fever were commonplace among the people-especially the children. High childhood mortality rates were the norm in these villages. Families would try to have eight or ten children, hoping that four or five of them would survive to adulthood.
Now fast-forward to the present. I find that, although a lot has changed for us in twenty-first century America, things are pretty much the same as 1974 in the developing world-not much at all has changed for them. They live, work, and eke out an existence much the same today as they did in 1974, and in 1924 and even before.
For the past several years, I have been on many mission trips with First Baptist Church in Athens to developing countries, and on virtually each one of these trips it has been apparent that the people living in these places are still having great difficulty obtaining pure water to drink. We are still seeing cases of cholera, typhoid, shigella, and intestinal parasites-all water borne illnesses. Childhood mortality rates still soar into the twenty to thirty percent range. Malaria, too, is still a constant threat in most of these places, made more so as a result of people digging catchment ponds to catch and store rainwater for drinking in dry weather. These catchment basins are perfect breeding ponds for the malaria-carrying mosquito.
Often, when we were on these trips, we would talk about the difficulties the natives had as a result of impure water. As a physician, I saw frequent evidence of disease in the children due to drinking impure water. We saw adults and children with severe dehydration as a result of their intestinal diseases contracted from drinking impure water-diseases that would sometimes kill the children and that would often weaken the adults to the point of non-productivity. We watched as women and children would spend their entire day walking back and forth to a distant water hole to obtain water-often dirty, contaminated water-for their family to use on a daily basis.
Along about this same time, I was reading the book, “The Hole In Our Gospel” by Richard Stearns, President of World Vision, USA, and in it I learned many staggering facts.
- Nearly one billion people in the world have NO access to sources of pure water.
- Nearly five million people die every year from water borne illnesses (most of these are children).
- A child dies about every fifteen to twenty seconds from a water-related illness.
- People in the developing world invest 200 million hours every day in walking back and forth collecting water for their daily use. That’s a workforce of 20 million people working ten hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, year in and year out.
- It is estimated that, at any given time, fifty percent (50%) of all hospital beds throughout the world are occupied by people suffering from a water related illness.
Those of us who live in the United States, where we can turn on a water faucet virtually anywhere and get potable water, often find it hard to believe that these facts can actually be true in our twenty-first century world. Yet, millions of people live this reality every day.
Then, in the fall of 2009, while I was in a local grocery store, shopping for bottled water to take on a mission trip, I heard a voice inside of my head and my heart (I believe it was a prompting from God) that simply asked this question, “What would it look like if there was a bottled water on the shelf alongside the other brand name waters that donated 100% of its’ profits to helping provide sources of pure water for people living in developing countries?” I thought, Wow! Someone ought to do that! I was certain that someone WAS doing it. I felt strongly that, if I would find that product appealing, there would very likely be others who would as well. I went to the internet to find out who was doing this so I could join them and help in whatever way I could. However, as I researched the idea, I found that there was virtually no one who was doing exactly that. I then began to feel convicted that I should do something about it myself.
Initially, I resisted the idea completely. I was nearly sixty years old, a medical doctor (not a business man), and I knew virtually nothing about the bottled water industry. I prayed about it and wrestled with it for a few weeks. As it turns out, God was in the process of giving me a Holy Discontent about the world water crisis. After several nights of being awakened from sleep with dreams of children sick and dying from water borne illnesses, I decided I needed to share this idea with someone.
On a morning shortly after Thanksgiving, 2009, I had a breakfast meeting with my good friend Steve Akin and shared my story. His response was vintage Steve Akin, “Wow! What a great idea! Why haven’t we thought of this before?”
From this beginning, Hope Springs Water was born. I talked with a number of committed Christian friends, and virtually before I knew it, we had incorporated and had a functioning board of directors. We initially thought we could do it all with a non-profit company, but quickly found out that one can’t buy a product and sell it for a profit and call oneself a non-profit company. We therefore settled on two corporations-one, Hope Springs, Inc., that sells the bottled water, pays all of its’ expenses and taxes, and then donates all the rest to a second corporation-a non-profit corporation named Hope Springs Water, that uses the money from the sale of the water as well as any money donated to our cause by people sympathetic to our cause to provide sources of pure water to people living in the developing world.
We currently sell 24 pack cases of 0.5 liter bottles of a natural spring water. We are aggressively marketing the water to multiple grocery chains that serve the East Texas area, but as yet have the water for sale in only a few local outlets, but will soone be offered for sale in Brookshires Grocery Stores throughout North and East Texas. We realize the bottled water market is a tight market, but we feel our water holds a competitive edge over other waters due to what we do with the profits from the sale of the water. Our major hurdle right now is to get exposure to the market place. It is our opinion that, once we get that exposure, consumer acceptance and even preference will quickly follow. Together, we WILL make a difference!
May God bless our efforts to ease the suffering of His children.
C. Ted Mettetal, M.D.