By Bonnie Mentel
Local resident Howard Fox first heard about Overland Missions when the CEO and Founder, Philip Smethurst, spoke at his church.
“I was at my church, the River Church of Tampa Bay, when Phil came and spoke at a college service about Overland; how they go out and preach the gospel to the unreached gospel groups,” said Fox.
After finishing his degree in Mechanical Engineering at USF, as well as Bible School at his church, Fox traveled to Zambia on a short-term mission trip. He plans to travel back there soon.
The mission’s main base is located in Zambia. Along with preaching Jesus to the unreached people, they also provide safe drinking water by drilling wells there.
The organization provides humanitarian aid within Zambia, Tanzania, Mozambique, Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Cambodia, Brazil, and Argentina.
“We’re going into different villages that we’ve already started relationships with, through either outreaches, like two-week mission trips, Bible Studies, or through missionaries that have gone consistently and made relationships with village leaders or headmasters of different schools. After we’ve established relationships with them, we ask if they need any water or any help. If they do, they come to the water projects team,” Fox said.
Once an area is located, the team travels about 5-10 hours to get to the village. The team prefers to find an area where five or six wells can be drilled. Each well costs $6,800, including installation, which is funded by donors. The water teams also fix hand pumps that are in need of repair.
Drilling a well can take between eight hours to a couple of days. There are times during drilling when the surface begins to cave-in. This halts the excavation process and requires a section of temporary steel casing to be installed at the top of the well. Fox had experience installing a drill last year when he visited Zambia for four months. This year, the Zambia team plans to drill six new wells and fix 20 hand pumps. The wells are drilled through an aquifer.
Fox plans to go back to Zambia as soon as he gets fully funded. His current budget is $4,500 per month. This will include buying a truck for his drilling work. He will also need money for food, plane tickets, gas and vehicle repairs.
For more info about Overland Missions, visit www.overlandmissions. com. To support Fox, visit www.howardfox.me, find him on Instagram @Howardfox3 or call him at 454-7836.