When Pastor Paul Wong (right) decided to sponsor a water filtration system to Uganda, he did not expect his gift to bring about great spiritual growth in the area. All photos courtesy of Pastor Paul Wong.

When Pastor Paul Wong (right) decided to sponsor a water filtration system to Uganda, he did not expect his gift to bring about great spiritual growth in the area. All photos courtesy of Pastor Paul Wong.

Pastor Paul Wong was at a meeting with the CEO of a water filtration company in 2019 when a seemingly random thought struck him.

“Does Uganda need water?” wondered the 62-year-old pastor at New Life Community Church.

The thought was unusual as he had no links to Uganda, save for a dear friend, Ugandan Pastor Grace Jonathan Kigozi, whom he had met during his time at Tung Ling Bible College that year.

A passage he read for his devotion soon after that encounter confirmed his prompting to reach out to Pastor Grace.

Pastor Paul (left) and Pastor Grace (right) in Uganda. They became friends in Tung Ling Bible College in Singapore in 2019.

“In John 4:13-14, Jesus said to to the woman at the well that everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again. But whoever drinks of the water He gives to them will never be thirsty again. And in them, there will be a spring of water welling up to eternal life,” said Pastor Paul.

“I thought to myself, ‘Well this is quite interesting.’

“As a result of that devotional, I said, ‘Okay, let’s just ask Pastor Grace, and if they need the water filtration system, I will send it up to Uganda.’”

A huge, unexpected impact

Pastor Paul’s phone call with Pastor Grace confirmed his call to action.

“Uganda is suffering from a lack of clean drinking water,” Pastor Grace shared with him. “It’s very bad. It’s more widespread than you can actually imagine.”

Waterborne illnesses like cholera, dysentery and malaria are among Uganda’s major public health problems. Due to the inadequate healthcare, these diseases often become deadly.

The first water filtration system by Wateroam, sponsored by Pastor Paul from his parent’s inheritance.

Moved by the dire water situation, Pastor Paul decided to sponsor a water filtration system for Kakari, a city located 90km from Kampala, the capital of Uganda, where the need was most urgent.

He partnered with Wateroam to carry out the project. Wateroam is a Singaporean social enterprise whose mission is to provide people in rural parts of the world access to clean water.

To help fund the project, Pastor Paul used the $10,000 that had been bequeathed to him by his late parents.

It was no small sum to give up, but Pastor Paul said it was an easy decision: “My late parents supported missions and missionaries all their lives. I wanted to follow their legacy.”

Driven by Jesus’ words on being the source of Living Water, Pastor Paul wanted the locals who came for the clean water to also find the Living Water. So, with the help of Pastor Grace, he stationed an Ugandan pastor, Pastor Dennis, at the water filtration system and put him in charge of it.

Whenever the locals came to draw water, Pastor Dennis would share the Gospel with them. He also travelled out to the neighbouring villages with news of the new water filtration system, as well as with the Good News.

Pastor Paul (right) with Pastor Dennis (middle), who was put in charge of the first water filtration system in Kakari.

While the first water filtration system was completed in 2020, Pastor Paul could only visit the site in Kakari in 2023 after the COVID pandemic had abated.

And as he saw the impact that the water system had on the community three years on, he was “totally astounded” and “awestruck”.

He recalled: “What we saw was really quite incredible.”

Offering the Living Water

Prior to the installation of the water filtration system, the locals would draw water from rivers and wells, and try to filter it themselves for consumption. 

This was because they could not afford to buy clean water, which was sold for about S$2.50 for 20 litres, said Pastor Paul.

However, their efforts failed to produce adequately clean water, said Pastor Paul. “Their water was like ‘teh su su’ (milk tea),” he described.

With the water filtration system, however, locals now had access to water that was 99.98% clean and safe to drink. The clean water is now being sold at S$0.12 per 20 litres, said Pastor Paul.

This is the water source where the villagers draw their water from. The water is contaminated by animal waste and bacteria.

With the Wateroam filtration system, locals have clean water that is safe for human consumption.

This access to clean water also has created jobs for locals, said Pastor Paul.

Young local men now purchase the clean drinking water, transport it on their bikes and sell it to people who find it difficult to travel to the water filtration system on foot. 

Young men would buy the water and resell it to other villagers at a fraction of the previous price. This water system created livelihood and jobs for the locals.

But the most amazing thing that the water filtration system brought to the community was a new church. 

A church established

As Pastor Dennis shared the Gospel with the locals who came day after day for clean water, some began to gather regularly to worship God together.

With the proceeds of the clean water, which amounted to about US$200, Pastor Dennis built a structure beside the water filtration system that eventually became Salvation Church of Christ.

When Pastor Paul visited Kakari in 2023, there were about 50 members. Now, there are approximately 240 regular members – a 400% increase in just one year. 

Salvation Church of Christ, a rural church at Kakiri which was established as a result of the water project.

Pastor Paul said: “They were singing and praising God. I said, ‘Man, this is in the middle of nowhere.’

“All I wanted was just to bless the community with clean drinking water, but to see a church grow out of this project shows that God is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us (Ephesians 3:20).”

Raising a godly generation 

Moved by this impact, Pastor Paul brought a second water system to Ziranumbu, beside Pastor Grace’s church.

Church members stand by the taps and use the opportunity to share the Gospel with those collecting water. From 100 regular members, the church now has some 300 members.

The second project at Salvation Church of Uganda. Workers are digging the well by hand.

The proceeds from the clean water has also helped to fund a Christian school beside the church. It offers not just academic education but Christian education to its 200 students. Several of them and their parents have accepted Christ, said Pastor Paul.

The proceeds of the clean water in Ziranumbu helped to fund a Christian school which now serves some 200 students.

“This is fertile ground indeed. It provides a wonderful opportunity to share the Gospel,” he said. “We are planting and watering at the same time. We have witnessed salvations at the water disburse. It is happening!”

Breaking the poverty mindset

For the third water filtration system instalment, situated in Masaka, Pastor Paul felt a conviction to “co-partner” with the locals to fund the project.

He approached the villagers and proposed that they contribute a million Ugandan shillings (S$350), while he and his partners would cover the remaining costs.

Initially, Pastor Paul struggled with this decision. However, he wanted to nurture their dignity and confidence in their ability to contribute and take ownership of this community project.

The third installation at Masaka. This was at the commissioning of the well by the local leadership, including the village head, a representative from the civil service and the police.

He aimed not only to break the cycle of poverty but also to challenge their poverty mindset. “They think, ‘If I don’t get money from outside, I can’t do anything.’”

He added: “I want to challenge their faith. It’s easy to pray for donations. But the model I want to advocate to the Ugandan pastors is one where they can establish a sustainable revenue pipeline for their ministries, because donations are inconsistent.” 

The water tank draws water from the wells and the water goes through the Wateroam filtration system.

At first, the locals were resistant and lacked the confidence to raise the S$350 on their own. However, they eventually managed to accomplish this by selling some of their goats.

This fundraising experience bolstered their morale and demonstrated to them that they are far more capable than they had thought, said Pastor Paul. 

A push out of their comfort zone

When Pastor Paul spoke to Salt&Light in April, he shared that the fourth water filtration system had just been completed in Nakawuka.

This time, he increased the Ugandans’ co-investment from one million Ugandan shillings (S$350) to 5.6 million shillings (S$2,000).

The fourth water filtration system installation at Nakawuka. The lady in the photo is Pastor Marion, the Senior Pastor of the Anointed Truth of Salvation Ministry Church, which manages the water filtration system.

Again, the locals felt it was too much to ask of them. But Pastor Paul believed they could do it: “They just needed a push out of their comfort zone.”

And indeed, they were able to raise the amount.

The fourth water filtration system is built close to Anointed Truth of Salvation Ministry Church.

“It is a miracle story, as rural communities have been blessed with clean water. We started with one project and now we have just finished the fourth project,” said Pastor Paul.

“More people are being blessed with clean water. Just like the boy with the five loaves and two fish, God can multiply (what we have) when we are obedient to His call.

“And the projects will continue to be built for His glory.”

A long-term impact

Pastor Paul’s mission is to help the Ugandan churches initiate a sustainable revenue stream, ultimately empowering them to become self-sufficient. This would give them the room to grow and expand, he said.

He hopes to help them move away from their dependence on donations and tithes alone, drawing inspiration from the example of the Apostle Paul, who supported himself as a tentmaker alongside his ministry vocation.

“We want to offer practical solutions to real human issues, all while demonstrating the love of Christ,” said Pastor Paul, who hopes to one day provide healthcare to the community as well.

At a recent medical mission held by a church in Kampala, 400 people came to be treated. Locals have little access to healthcare and many curable diseases become deadly to them because they cannot afford medicine.

Ultimately, this water filtration system is not just to eradicate an urgent social issue, but to open people’s hearts to Jesus, he said.

“People indeed initially come for the water on a daily basis, but I cannot fully explain why people show up for Sunday service.

“I believe that the rural communities have seen the goodness of God and are responding.”


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About the author

Jolene Ng

A creative at heart with a penchant for all things aesthetic, Jolene revels in the idea of turning ashes into beauty. She graduated with a degree in theology, and her heart is tenderly drawn to stories of God's restoration and redemption.