TITUSVILLE, Fla – A Saturday morning stopover at the Space Coast Regional Airport in Titusville was a small, but crucial stop for Joe Hurston. The president of Air Mobile Ministries was once again mobilizing equipment to head to the scene of another natural disaster.

What You Need To Know

  • Air Mobile Ministries is preparing to deliver 14 water purification systems to Turkey

  • Each system can deliver clean drinking water to 1,000 people

  • Joe Hurston with Air Mobile Ministries departed from Miami Saturday night

The stop at this airport was to inspect and pack up 14 water purification kits that he and his team with the ministry build to help restore water infrastructure, following events like hurricanes and earthquakes.

The massive earthquake that devastated Syria and Turkey was weighing heavily on his mind earlier this week while he was in Tennessee.

“72 hours ago, 1:30 in the morning, I woke up and couldn’t sleep and I kind of wrestled with the Lord for about three hours and finally, the final word was just go,” Hurston said. “It’s like, we can do something. It’s a drop in the bucket, but we can do something. And if we just sit, if I sit this one out, what will be unto me.”

Hurston has been responding to natural disasters going back to the earthquake that struck the island of Haiti, killing nearly a quarter million people. His was the first private plane to land on the island after the earthquake. After that, they started building water purification kits to bring to people in hard hit areas.

“Right now, I don’t have a lot of time to think about it, but it’s horrible. Going into there, I’m remembering the smells of the dead bodies, the mass graves, the bodies being pushed in. It’s grotesque, it’s horrifying,” Hurston said. “But I try not to think a lot about that until we get the mission done. So, we’ve got a lot of work to do ahead of us.”

He and the team with Air Mobile Ministries spent years working on and updating the water purification systems they’re preparing to take to Turkey. Hurston said it’s been a labor of love to get the kits to where they are today.

“It’s been an evolution of emotions of watching this machine go from a crude machine to where it is today,” Hurston said.

Each kit is able to support clean drinking water for about 1,000 people. He said this is a critical part of a relief effort that isn’t always talked about, but is always one of the most crucial for those on the ground.

“I don’t think people realize that the first thing to go is water infrastructure. The most needed thing is water,” said Doug Rodante, a pilot with Air Mobile Ministries. “There’s no electricity, there’s no clean water either.”

Hurston is flying out from Miami International Airport on a direct flight to Istanbul, Turkey, where he will then take a smaller plane over to the hardest hit areas. That’s where he’ll get to work deploying these kits.

“The earthquake has broken all the pipelines, which means that you turn the water on, no water pressure. Then when the water pressure does come, it’s going to be full of sewage,”Huston said. “And that’s the critical point where we’re hoping to have our units slid into strategic locations when that moment comes and they need clean water.”

While this work doesn’t get any easier, Hurston said he can easily point back to a passage from scripture that he said is the bedrock for why he continues to do this work along with his team.

“It’s found in Matthew 25 and Jesus told his disciples, ‘I was thirsty and you gave me the drink.’ And they said, ‘When have we ever seen you thirsty, Lord?’ And he said, ‘When you’ve done it unto the least of these, you’ve done it unto me,’” Hurston said. “So, I thank God he’s given me the strength and he’s given me the help and he’s given this incredible technology.”

More than 1,500 of these kits are in 49 countries around the world at this point. Turkey will make 50.