River of Life AG in Cold Spring knows how to celebrate. On Sunday, March 7th, they drove a semi-truck go-kart on the stage while the staff revealed the giving totals from the previous week. They had taken an offering to help fund a new truck for Convoy of Hope with a goal of $150,000.
In retelling the events of that week, Pastor Denny Curran underscores that the beginning of this story dates back to when he first planted the church. They had just started supporting their first missionaries, Mark and Janie Durene, when he saw a missions giving report that placed them at the bottom of the list. He was disheartened, but resolute. He prayed and believed that one day they would be one of the top 100 giving churches in the nation.That moment years ago was the spark of a new fire for missions. Giving increased, and soon the new youth pastor at the time, Kirby St. John, approached Denny asking, “What if we gave $11,000 to Speed the Light this year?” To some, Denny’s missions vision and Kirby’s STL goal were too ambitious for a church made up mostly of new converts in a small community, but it didn’t stop them. Denny says, “What they told us we couldn’t do, we decided we could do.” That year the youth group gave $25,000 to Speed the Light and launched a giving culture with the youth that has continued to grow under the current youth pastor, Kyle Curran.
Since stepping into the role, Kyle has been intentional about connecting with local business leaders who have been inspired by youth giving.When the church initially cast vision for a new Convoy of Hope truck, one business owner committed to a third of the total goal. Coupled with another third from existing missions funds, they decided to hold a STL Sunday service on February 28th to challenge the congregation to give the final third to reach the goal.
There was a snowstorm that Sunday and attendance was down. The offering was $32,000, but many people watched the service later online. By Monday night the grand total was $148,000. Checks and cash kept coming all week. One man brought in a jar of $500 in coins. By the next Sunday they were ready to reveal the total.That morning a counter on the screen started ticking upward. The crowd cheered as the counter stopped just past their goal, but in a planned tease their business administrator appeared and said that was the wrong number. The counter started again and after a slight dip for dramatic effect, it shot up and ended at $306,808. Denny recalls, “The place was electric, exploding with excitement.” It was more than double their goal and enabled them to sponsor not one, but two trucks.
Denny reflects on the early days of the church and encourages pastors setting a new course for missions: “Start small, but start today,” and adding: “Share the goal with the right people.” The next goal for River of Life is giving $1 million to missions, a dream now with a huge boost in the first quarter of 2021.