One Student’s Vision: Give Water to the Poor

Nearly one billion people in the world live without clean drinking water. According to the nonprofit organization Charity Water, it’s happening in developing countries like Sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia and Latin America. Many of those without clean water make less than a dollar a day, and some women walk three hours a day to the nearest swamp, pond or river to gather water that has been exposed to germs. Bethel business education major Josh Winningham (’12) wants to change that.

As a soccer player and former Bethel Beacon editor, Winningham has dreams to become a coach, teacher and possibly do something with business upon graduation. In the meantime, he set his heart on raising funds to dig a well for 250 people in a third-world country who need clean water.

He got the idea last November after the Children of the World Choir performed during chapel. The choir, made up of orphaned and disadvantaged children from around the world, challenged students to help with clean water efforts in poor countries. Winningham also knew his church had raised $5,000 to purchase a well through Charity Water.

“There’s no reason Bethel College, a group of 2,000 people, can’t do something like this,” says an enthusiastic Winningham.

So he presented his idea to the group of guys he lives with in Benton House during their weekly Bible study. The men had been studying Jesus’ life through the book of Luke. They wanted the group to be more than just a self-help study group. This group of men wanted to represent Christ, benefit others and do something Jesus would have done. After three weeks of prayer, they decided to raise $5,000 to help dig a well in an impoverished area.

“It was tough at first. $5,000 sounds like a lot,” says Winningham.

With the help of Pete McCown, Ph.D., former assistant professor of business, and other Bethel students, the Benton House men’s Bible study group started fundraising. McCown helped the students come up with prizes for the winners of the NCAA men’s basketball bracket contest, generously made a matching offer and connected Winningham with possible donors. The students also collected change and created and sold bright yellow T-shirts with a catchy phrase, “If Not Now When? If Not Us Who?,” to bring awareness and a call to action to get involved.

Tyler Moore (’14), one of the students involved, says it was a big deal when Memorial Hospital stepped up with a $750 donation. “Wow. This is real. People are giving us money. We need to keep working,” he says.

After that, there was no backing out. Winningham says while he had his doubts at times, he knew they had to keep working.That work paid off. The group ended up raising $5,570.08 by the last day of the semester, going well beyond their goal.

Winningham hopes to see the well completed by next summer. In the meantime, he has decided to put the extra funds toward another project. “I think we would like to raise money for another water well.”

To see how you can help, visit www.CharityWater.org.


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