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Minnesota Breaks $1 Million Barrier for Speed the Light

In 2015, the Minnesota District became the first Assemblies of God district to raise more than $1 million for Speed the Light in a single year!

There have been a lot of big moments in Speed the Light history, but 2015 may have provided the biggest moment thus far — Minnesota became the first Assemblies of God district ever to raise over $1 million for Speed the Light in a single year!

Speed the Light (STL) is an intentional discipleship tool of stewardship that teaches students and leaders to develop a habit of lifelong giving. Practically, Speed the Light provides much-needed equipment to missionaries across the nation and in over 180 countries — and has become one of the most effective youth missions ministries in the church world. Since its inception in 1944, Speed the Light has raised over $290 million dollars to equip Assemblies of God missionaries to spread the gospel and make Jesus known around the world.

In 2015 alone, Minnesota Student Ministries did what no other district has ever done and surpassed the $1 million threshold for STL. Mark Dean, district youth director (DYD) of Minnesota, didn’t start out with a goal of $1 million. In fact, there was a day when one-tenth of that was their goal. But the district quickly realized that $100,000 was not going to cover all of their Minnesota missionaries’ needs. With all the youth pastors in one accord, they began challenging themselves to $300,000, $400,000, and even $500,000.

But January of 2013 changed everything.  “God spoke to me clearly with the thought, ‘someday a group of students are going to give a million dollars to missions,’” Dean says.  “It was quickly followed by the questions, ‘why not Minnesota? Why not us? Why not now?’ That became our goal for both 2014 and 2015.”

That type of success doesn’t happen overnight. Dean has been Minnesota’s DYD for over 26 years and has built a culture of Speed the Light giving in his district. In fact, of the top 20 giving STL churches, six are from Minnesota.

Senior Director of Youth Ministries Heath Adamson has this to say about Dean: “Mark Dean leads with integrity and excellence while remaining unconcerned with receiving credit. Mark is, has, and will always be about missions. As a DYD, Mark takes his responsibility seriously to equip AG missionaries with the much needed tools for evangelism. I am grateful for Mark and Barb Dean, their leadership, and the well they’ve dug for missions in the next generation.”

Mark Dean is quick to recognize the many lead pastors, youth pastors, and leaders who have sacrificed much to mature the current culture of generosity. Together they live out their district-wide desire to disciple students for the fulfillment of the Great Commission. 

One such youth pastor is Davey Collins — youth pastor at River Valley Church, Apple Valley campus. He, like so many youth pastors in Minnesota, make Speed the Light a part of their discipleship strategy. In fact, each week they incorporate Speed the Light into a 5-minute segment showcasing a missionary they give to, a testimony from a student who is faithful in giving, or a quick teaching on giving.

“If at a young age we can teach students that [Speed the Light] is such a practical way that they can reach the ends of the earth, it’s incredible what they can do,” says Collins.  

As for the future, Dean draws his inspiration from Roger Bannister, the first ever to run the mile in under 4 minutes, and sees $1 million as just another hurdle. It only took 46 days for Bannister’s record to be broken, despite the fact that nobody had ever done it previously. Runners, who previously thought it was impossible, now had inspiration and a model to achieve even greater goals.

Dean declares, “I believe we must go beyond what we see as impossible, and challenge the next generation to do what we’ve been unable to do.”

Adamson echoes Dean’s vision, “When our students plant their treasure in the soil of eternity it produces a harvest for decades to come both around the world and in the very life of the student. I’m thankful for the students, parents, pastors, churches, and DYD’s who labor intentionally. I’m thankful that greater days are ahead!”

Nii Abrahams

Nii Abrahams is a graduate of Missouri State University with an undergraduate degree in communication and an emphasis in ethical leadership. He is pursuing a master's degree in communication at Missouri State. He is a part of the Assemblies of God National Youth Ministries team as the communication and content strategist.