Enter Pam Carter, who was a conference missions coordinator at the time. The Western North Carolina Conference has a missional relationship with Haiti and through those connections, River of Life was able to fund its first well. It just celebrated its 135th.
“We never thought we’d be able to get one. It’s just amazing to see how God has worked through all of this,” Dickert said.
“It fit beautifully with a group meeting weekly in water that is so clear you can see the rocks at the bottom. That’s not the case in Haiti,” Pam Carter said.
The Rev. Wayne Dickert greets Pam Carter during the River of Life worship service. Carter, who coordinated missions for the Western North Carolina Conference, helped facilitate using money raised by the River of Life to drill water wells in Haiti.
Since the coronavirus pandemic began, River of Life has shifted its focus to raising money for personal protective equipment for Dr. Eugene Maklin and New Hope Hospital in Cap-Haitien, Haiti, a ministry partner with the conference.
There had been concerns about being able to meet during the pandemic, but restrictions on outdoor gatherings were eased about the time River of Life was to begin its season, which runs between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
Dickert has been surprised by how much crossover he saw between River of Life and Bryson City United Methodist during the pandemic. Previously, the ministries had been “two separate fishbowls,” but as online worship services became more popular, he saw River of Life regulars in online Sunday school, small groups and worship at Bryson City.
“Usually a Fresh Expression spins off of a traditional church and becomes its own thing, but last year, River of Life became sort of an anchor for our more traditional church, which is pretty cool,” he said. “It speaks more to discipleship versus membership, and I’m all about that.”
Clara Belle leaps from a rock into the Nantahala River while Tom Womble provides encouragement.
The Rev. Wayne Dickert (center) visits with fellow boaters during a rest break on the Nantahala River.
The Rev. Wayne Dickert visits with Shirley Waters after Sunday service at Bryson City United Methodist Church.