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Small Town Response


Small Town Response

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When Charlie LeFort II met Lee Rogers for a meal one evening, he didn’t know how his life would change.

LeFort was a senior at Bucktail High School in Renovo, Pennsylvania. He asked Rogers to tell him about the Seven Project, an Assemblies of God National Youth Ministries Youth Alive outreach which brings motivational speakers to an area high school for an assembly, then invites them back in the evening for an evangelical service. Rogers is a missionary with Youth Alive in the Penn-Del District.

The Seven Project provides customizable school assemblies on a variety of topics dealing with real-life and character issues faced by students, according to U.S. Missions missionary with Youth Alive Kent Hulbert, national campus missionary coordinator with National Youth Ministries. In 15 years, the ministry has provided assemblies for over 1,200 schools, and has reached more than half a million students nationwide. The evening events have reached nearly 200,000 students, resulting in 74,000 salvation decisions for Christ.

LeFort recalls hearing Rogers talk about the Seven Project.

“I told him I felt like God might want us to do that in our school,” LeFort says. “Lee told me that if we raised $5,000, we could have the Seven Project assembly and evening event.” That seemed like a lot of money for a town with a population of 1,200.

Rogers remembers that when Charlie was an eighth grader, he committed himself to be a campus missionary — a student who shares Jesus at school, the cornerstone of Youth Alive's strategy. Later that year, LeFort started a Bible club to begin to share Jesus with his classmates. He had already been raising money in faith by the time he met with his principal the summer before his senior year to propose bringing the Seven Project school assembly to Renovo as his senior graduation project.

Rogers was taken aback when Charlie asked him about the Seven Project.

“Renovo is one of the most remote towns in Pennsylvania,” Rogers says. “I wasn’t sure if it would be the right fit.” Nevertheless, Rogers made a commitment to help.

LeFort and a group of friends bought chocolate bars to sell. They went to neighboring churches to ask for donations. They sold food at local festivals. Through all those events, they raised the necessary $5,000 to invite the Seven Project to come to the school. Some of the money generated went toward buying prizes for the students who would attend the event.

“Charlie felt the Holy Spirit speak to him to take money out of his college savings to buy a stereo system to give away during the event,” Rogers says. “He was willing to pay a personal price to share Jesus at school and with his classmates.”

LeFort and Rogers received permission from the school to hand out fliers on several occasions. They also went to local businesses to request that circulars be posted in shop windows. LeFort also put the information in the school paper.

The first event featured Steve McGranahan, the “world’s strongest redneck,” who tore phonebooks in half and displayed other acts of strength. Zach Wenrich, a professional skateboarder, brought a team and performed skateboarding feats.

Everyone who attended the daytime assembly returned that night as well. In the afterschool gathering, the speakers clearly articulated the gospel.

A total of 35 students — in a school of only 232 — made salvation decisions. The atmosphere in the small community seemed different after the event, LeFort says.

“Morning prayer groups and Bible studies started springing up,” LeFort says. “God used the event to move in people’s hearts.”

“Charlie came from one of the smallest churches in one of the most remote towns with the fewest resources in our state, but he heard from God, and responded with obedience, humility, and hard work,” Rogers says.

LeFort is now a 20-year-old student at University of Valley Forge, an Assemblies of God school in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania. He looks forward to being a pastor after graduation. LeFort has participated in several mission trips, and volunteered at food banks. He went with a group from Valley Forge to the Los Angeles Dream Center.

“The experience with The Seven Project really galvanized my thoughts about God,” LeFort says.

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