Change Makers

What’s Keith Richards’ brother-in-law doing for World Vision?

A dream inspires a retired carpenter to bike across America to raise money for World Vision water projects in Kenya.

One night, in the summer of 2012, Greg Hansen awoke with a crazy idea.

“What do you think about cycling across the country for clean water?” the 64-year-old Staten Island, New York, resident asked his wife, Sue.

The couple had recently finished studying The Hole in Our Gospel by World Vision U.S. President Rich Stearns. Greg was floored when he read the statistic in the book about how 1,400 children die each day because they lack access to clean water.

“Sue and I have eight children,” Greg says. “Children have always been an incredible part of our life. That is at the forefront of what has touched my heart: the number of children that are living desperate lives because of a lack of clean water.”

At first, the family sought donations to develop a well for about $14,000. They prayed, told their book study leader about it, and, within a week, support exceeded the goal.

As funds mounted for the cause, Greg, Sue, and Sue’s brother, Dennis Moore, began to plan their cross-country cycling tour to raise more money for Kenya water projects. With Sue and their church providing vehicle and logistics support, Greg and Dennis hit the road on April 2, 2013.

Their church, Salem Church on Staten Island, supported the team as it progressed mile after mile. Pastor Ed Cole says, “As soon as [Greg] shared it with me, I thought, ‘This is a fantastic thing for the whole church to get in on. God put something on his heart, and he said yes.’”

My hope is that people will look at this and ask, ‘What about me — what’s my vision?’—Greg Hansen

For seven weeks, the cyclists traversed 70 to 90 miles a day. Between Coronado, California, and Staten Island, Greg and Dennis faced a multitude of challenges — from pneumonia and dehydration to equipment breakdowns.

Despite setbacks, a handful of incidents that seemed divinely orchestrated made the team realize that a special story was unfolding.

In the middle of New Mexico, they met a water truck driver who gave them four cases of bottled water for the journey. Then, after a long day in Virginia, the team had no place to stay — until they encountered a local missionary who had been a bike mechanic. He provided them with lodging and bike tune-ups.

“Each morning we prayed together,” says Greg. “I believe that brought us through.”

Ed says there’s power in the team’s willingness to step out to follow Jesus.

To date, Greg has raised more than $110,000. Beyond galvanizing the church community, the journey inspired Greg’s rock star brother-in-law, Keith Richards, to give $50,000 to the cause.

What’s more, putting Greg’s “crazy idea” into action has been a great example, says Ed. “My hope is that people will look at this and ask, ‘What about me — what’s my vision?’”

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