Evangel Profile

Cody Henderson (’08): Raising funds to help the impoverished in Africa

September 17, 2009

He is an environmental engineer by profession, but since graduating from Evangel just over a year ago, Cody Henderson has developed a heart to provide clean water, medical care and educational opportunities to children and families in impoverished nations in Africa.

Last  summer, Henderson, along with Brady Miles, both ’08 graduates, participated in a nationwide cross-country bike ride called the Ride:Well Tour, raising money for Blood:Water Mission, a Christian organization founded by the members of contemporary Christian band Jars of Clay.  Christian female vocal artist and fellow Evangel alumna Sara (Colbaugh ’94) Groves, is also a  supporter of the organization and has performed concerts in support of the ministry throughout the trip.

Since 2004, Blood:Water Mission has funded 617 water projects in 11 countries, delivering clean water along with hygiene and sanitation training to more than 460,000 people in Africa.

The Ride:Well Tour takes place every summer and raises thousands of dollars through  fundraising from family and friends of the bike riders and the stops the team makes across the country. This year, Henderson said that close to $100,000 was raised. In addition to raising money on the road in local churches, Henderson and Miles each had to raise $4,800 on their own to cover the expenses of the trip.

“I was blessed by peers and family to have raised most of the money I needed,” says Henderson. “I sent out tons and tons of letters, held a bike-a-thon and talked to several churches and really anyone I could about what I was doing.”

The tour began on June 14 in Long Beach, California. After averaging 85-some miles a day on their bicycles, the team met their destination on August 8 in Cape Henlopen, Delaware.

“It was amazing to see how people, town to town, stood behind our efforts,” says Henderson. “We saw a homeless shelter raise close to $4,000  on their own. We saw a 7-year-old girl raise close to $1,000  by herself. We saw a group of ninth graders raise enough money to put in a water well of their own — I mean the people and stories we came across made what we were doing even more meaningful. Just knowing there was this kind of community that came together for the needs of people they have never met meant a lot.”

The longest the team went in one day was 150 miles. Typically, they would ride throughout the day and stop at local churches to speak and make presentations in the evenings.

“The trip ended up being close to 3,600 miles through desert, mountains, plains and rain,” says Henderson, who rode through 10 states throughout the eight-week tour, “but it was one of the most beautiful ways to see the country.”

The focus of the 2009 summer tour was to raise money and support for a community in Marsabit, Kenya. Henderson says the money raised from the tour will go to build water catchment tanks and to sustain the efforts of a new health clinic.

While he was first inspired about the trip from Miles, Henderson found his motivation to continue through Scripture. “It  broke my heart once I really started reading and understanding the crisis that’s going on over in Africa,” he says.

“In John 3:17-18 it says, ‘But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?’ That verse really hit home for me because I have been blessed immensely. We are a global community, and it’s our responsibility as brothers and sisters to help out wherever and whenever we can — that was my motivation.”

Henderson graduated from Evangel in 2008, majoring in Management, Marketing and Leadership.

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