Quite the Fundraiser
Ryan and Megan Yates, young youth pastors at Abundant Life Community Church in Alton, Illinois, had an idea to do something radically different from their norm to raise money for Speed the Light. They hosted a full-service banquet.
Members of the youth group took an immense step of faith when they set a fundraising goal of $20,000. The event took in $20,055.96.
Both Ryan and Megan graduated from Illinois School of Ministry and interned at Abundant Life for a year before transitioning to become leaders of the youth group, Lifeline. The ministry has between 95-120 students and is extremely diverse representing a variety of races. Ryan says his passion for Speed the Light is a result of the leadership before him.
While growing up, Yates was in the youth group of current Illinois District Youth Director (DYD) Eric Hoffman.
"Pastor Eric is a big Speed the Light guy, so missions and Speed the Light has been a big part of my life and in my heart," Yates says. "I feel like it's run in my blood ever since I was a teenager."
The idea of the banquet came from former youth leaders in their ministry. They shared the idea with Ryan and Megan, who immediately sensed its appropriateness. Originally Ryan suggested setting a $10,000 goal, but he says he felt God challenging him to move the figure to $20,000. With some trepidation over falling far short, he agreed.
Two days before the event Hoffman met with a woman who said she felt led to sow a seed into a ministry. Hoffman knew about the Speed the Light banquet and shared about it with the woman -- who immediately wrote a $10,000 check!"
Even though that one stroke of the pen meant meeting half of the goal, Ryan and Megan still had a lot of work to do on the day of the banquet. The banquet included food, student waiters and waitresses, entertainment, students being sponsored for various tasks to members in the church, and even a full service valet. Despite all the unique additions to the banquet, fewer people than expected showed up.
Yates expected a crowed of more than 200 people but just under 100 showed up.
"I was pretty bummed," Yates says.
However, throughout the night, the giving kept going up. The amount collected hit $10,055.96, and coupled with the earlier check, their total reached $20,055.96.
"I recognized that it was God who gave me a vision and it was God who met the need," Yates says.
"When you obey God's voice and give yourself to His Kingdom work, prepare for crazy cool stories like this one," says AG National Youth strategist Scotty Gibbons.
"The heart of Speed the Light is so much more than raising money," Yates says. "Yes, we're fundraising, but we are teaching our students things like work ethic and servanthood. If you step out and take that leap of faith, pushing yourself to raise money for Speed the Light, it's unexplainable what God can do."