Students Drive Fundraiser for Health Center

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Carson Aaron and Elise Snow, the students behind the 2021 Bible Conference fundraiser, with Dr. Bernard Kadio

The 2020 Bible Conference offering results show what the BJU students can do when they believe in a cause and get behind it. This year’s offering, earmarked to fund Hope Christian Health Center in Ivory Coast, West Africa, is shaping up to reveal the same characteristic.

“We have a chance as students to get behind something that will not only save lives but share the Gospel with them at the same time,” said Carson Aaron, one of the students whose ideas initiated the main fundraising campaign for this year’s Bible Conference offering.

A Fundraiser Built on Friendship

Aaron, a sophomore ministry and leadership student from Arkansas, has been connected to the object of the campaign since 2004 when his father went on a medical mission trip and met Dr. Bernard Kadio, professor in the School of Health Professions and director of the Center for Community and Global Health at BJU. “That made a connection that ended up with Dr. Kadio coming to my church to be based out of there in Arkansas for his home base in the United States for a little while,” said Aaron. Ever since, the Aaron and Kadio families have been friends.

See Also: Bible Conference Speakers, Schedule

It was this friendship that gave Aaron a burden to share Kadio’s story as part of the fundraising campaign. “The power of Dr. Kadio’s testimony and story (is) something that people need to hear,” he said. “It’s just an incredible story.”

Aaron, a volunteer fundraiser leader for his society Basilean, was brainstorming possible fundraisers with society president Daniel Bendzinski at the end of the fall semester when they came up with the idea of sharing Dr. Kadio’s story via video. Said Aaron: “I said, well, we’ve got a bunch of cinema guys. What if we made a video or something and shared it?”

The Campaign’s First Brick

Meanwhile, Elise Snow, the chaplain for the women’s society Zoe Aletheia, had sparked an idea of her own. “In a meeting about Bible Conference fundraiser ideas between our ISC officers from Zoe and the boys from our brother society Z, we were throwing around a bunch of different ideas,” said Snow, a junior Spanish major with a counseling minor who interns at Piedmont Women’s Center.

“A couple of years ago we ran a campaign (at Piedmont Women’s Center) where they sold bricks. The idea with them was that the bricks eventually became the patio of what is now the new clinic that they built, but they sold these bricks as a sponsorship tool for the new clinic.” Snow’s suggestion was for Zoe Aletheia and Epsilon Zeta Chi to organize “a build our hospital brick by brick campaign, and we do the same kind of thing, and we get the Alumni Association involved.”

A Perfect Pairing

“Over the Christmas break, the only two societies to contact me with Bible Conference fundraising questions were these two societies — Basilean and Zoe,” said Matthew Weathers, director for the Center for Leadership Development. “Basilean had the great idea for making a video to get the word out but did not have a clear plan for the video content. Zoe had a great idea for a creative way for people to give but not a clear plan for getting the word out. Basil had the platform. Zoe had the message.” Weathers had a solution.

He suggested the two societies combine their projects. “They took off running to get the message on the right platform through incredible collaboration, and they have done an outstanding job of working together on this project that will, Lord willing, make possible the building of a health clinic that will save physical lives and be a platform to share the Gospel to save souls.”

Roadblocks and Open Doors

The students were given permission to move forward when they returned to campus in mid-January and a Feb. 1 deadline for completing the video. However, Aaron had to delay his return to campus until Jan. 17 due to contracting COVID-19. Through video calls and email, he and the society film crew — Ben Speaks, Cal Slayton, Ethan Hall, Aaron French, and Jacob and Thomas Henson — planned the video.

“So then that next week, MLK Day came, it was the second day I was on campus and that was the only day we could shoot,” said Aaron. “So those guys got everything together in about two days. All of the film crew put it all together, and I came up with a list of questions, and we went in and we interviewed Dr. Kadio. And I’m just blown away by our cinema guys and Basilean. They did a great job on such short notice.”

“It’s just been like God giving all those next connections to where we haven’t hit a wall,” said Snow. “It’s like God’s just making it move.”

Snow was amazed at how her idea had snowballed. “It’s actually been incredible to see how God has just thrown open door after door after door, and it’s gotten way bigger than we thought. … It’s just gotten to be kind of like this thing that was way bigger than I ever expected, but I’m so thankful to see that it’ll hopefully be a helpful thing for Dr. Kadio and raise the money that we need for the hospital.”

A Student Body with a Mission

When BJU students get behind a cause they believe in, they can do great things. Said Snow: “Our societies are really invested in seeing this hospital be built. … We learn and we use what we learn to love people and by loving people we lead them. I would say that this idea and this project, how it all came together, is a perfect example of that.”

Added Aaron: “The goal of the Bible Conference is to spread the Gospel. … We’re funding a hospital so we can spread the Gospel. And so that’s what we wanted to do with the video was to be able to fund that mission project, but also to be able to spread the Gospel through it. … In a time in the world where everything is so chaotic, last year and this year, what the students have gotten behind has really prioritized what is important. And that has been very encouraging to me, and I know it was encouraging to Paul Isaacs and it’s already encouraging to Dr. Kadio. … He said that there is such a thing as the 10-90 principle. And that just means that 10% of the world, which is us, has no idea what’s going on the other 90% and the struggles they’re going through.

“And so us being able to get behind something that is ministering to that other 90% of the world that we can’t even touch, that has been a powerful thing to see the last two Bible Conferences, and I really hope people will get behind what we’re trying to do this semester with punching the Gospel right into that 90% of the world.”

Snow summed up for both when she said, “I’m just so thankful and humbled to be a part of this and excited to see what God is going to do, and I want to go, and I want to see the hospital one day now. Dr. Kadio said we have to come.”

Watch the students’ video below and visit for more information or to donate.