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Children's pastor raises over $160,000 for BGMC

Perched on a 40-foot billboard, Pastor Jay Risner, children's pastor at James River Assembly in Ozark, MO, raised over $160,000 for BGMC in just 10 days. In comparison, the previous yearly giving record by any one church was $38,352.

Originally scheduled for early October, the campaign was almost grounded in the wake of the September 11 attacks. When it was rescheduled for early November, the fear that winter weather could cancel the whole thing became an issue. But, at 1 p.m. on November 11, Risner climbed atop the donated billboard on U.S. 65 and didn't come down until 1 p.m. on November 21, the day before Thanksgiving.

Risner filled his days calling local businessmen and community leaders for pledges and hosting visitors to his makeshift home in the sky. Visitors included Assemblies of God officials like former General Superintendent Thomas E. Trask and John Bueno, executive director of Assemblies of God World Missions, as well as family and friends. His chiropractor even paid several visits, bringing a portable table up the 40-foot fundraiser for back and neck adjustments.

God had originally given Risner the goal of raising $100,000 during the campaign and despite a tenuous start, he knew he had reached that goal before coming down from his platform Wednesday afternoon. It wasn't until a few days later when final tallies were being made the he realized God had not only met the original promise, but nearly doubled it. "When we first started planning this, I was realistically thinking we could raise $50,000." Risner said. "But God kept telling me it had to be $100,000. It just proves that as we are faithful to Him, he is faithful to us and to His promises."

The local media became a driving force behind Risner's campaign. Several local radio and television stations broadcast live from the billboard and local restaurants donated meals daily for Risner and his guests "It was a 'God-thing'," Risner said, "The community really got behind us and in 10 days people got to know me and more importantly, BGMC."

David Boyd, National BGMC Director said that more than a third of the funds raised came from outside the church—from the local community. "That's a significant amount when you talk to pastors who say their congregation is tapped-out financially." He went on to say that the bar has really been raised. "This effort is an inspiration to churches of all sizes that with some creativity and effort, amazing things can happen," Boyd said.

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