Emily Hardy was just 10 years old when Eric Hoffman, the Illinois District Youth director, came to her church, Industry (Illinois) Assembly of God. That day Eric shared the story of his daughter, Emma, who in an effort to raise $1,000 for BGMC (Boys and Girls Missionary Challenge), took pledges to smash eggs on her dad’s (Eric’s) head.
Although Emily would pass on “egging” anyone, she suddenly felt the urge to make a difference, believing she could raise $1,000 as well. She devoted herself to reaching that goal by doing odd jobs, selling items, and letting people know about her desire to raise $1,000 for missions. By June, she had already met her goal!
“I thought, why stop there? So, I kept going,” Emily says. By the end of December, she had raised over $4,500 for BGMC!
For most kids, that would have been enough, but God had placed a burden for kids in difficult circumstances who also needed to hear about Jesus. This year, Emily revised her goal . . . adding a zero. That’s right. $10,000.
“I’ve sold T-shirts, necklaces, key chains, bracelets, and a (fundraiser) stuffed lion,” Emily says. “I also held a yard sale, bake sales, created and sold some canvas art, did some dog sitting, and I still help my grandfather (a contractor) with projects.” So far this year, Emily has raised more than $7,500.
Brian, Emily’s father, says Emily is well-known in the district as her efforts have been shared by Hoffman over and over again as he visits and ministers at churches.
Emily’s efforts have also influenced a lot of other kids in the church and district to follow her lead. “At our summer kids camp,” Emily recalls, “it seemed every night 20 kids would come up to me and says things like, ‘That’s so cool what you’re doing for BGMC . . . I’m going to do that too.”
Other kids at the church are also getting on board with BGMC — creating and selling all kinds of things, from crafts to baked goods, to sell and give the money to missions.
Although it’s clear that God has placed a burden for BGMC on Emily’s heart, Emily’s parents (Brian and April) and her pastor, Jon Keck, agree that the church’s culture of emphasizing missions played a part in preparing her for this calling.
Keck, who came to Industry — a town of about 450 — in 2004, says the church has always been missions minded. When he first began ministering at the church, it only had about 16 people, but they had given $13,000 to missions the year before.
Throughout Keck’s tenure at Industry AG, God has repeatedly shown himself as Faithful Provider. As the church continued to make missions a priority, it grew; as the church grew, the more money the church gave to missions.
Keck shares how God even miraculously intervened when his faith in God’s ability to provide waivered. The church was preparing to hold its annual missions convention, which would be followed shortly by the launching of a new building program.
That year he went to the church board and recommended that the church not increase its giving to missions — keep the “status quo,” he said — in order for the building program to have a healthy financial start.
“A few days later, a friend of mine called me (Missionary Jay Covert),” Keck says. “He didn’t know anything about what we were doing. But he told me he had a word from God for me. He said, ‘God wants you to know, if you take care of His missionaries, He’ll take care of whatever you have in mind to do.’ I broke down and wept. I went before the church and confessed my lack of faith and we went on to have the best mission’s convention ever we had ever had to that date.”
And the building program? The church embraced God’s message. Although the $1.5 million building took seven years to complete, it only cost $700,000 and it was finished in 2015 completely debt-free!
“Throughout the process, there were many starts and stops, but when we came to a stop, we would try to find something in missions to give to and we found that God would bless us our building program,” Keck says, still marveling. “The only way to explain it is, God blesses churches who put missions first!”
The church, which now has around 120 attending on Sundays, supports 78 missionaries with a total of around $5,500 in monthly support. Already this year, they have raised over $25,000 for BGMC plus around $5,000 for Speed the Light.
As a direct result of putting missions first, Keck believes, they’ve seen many young adults flocking to their Monday Night Young Adult program as well as seeing their Wednesday evening children’s ministry explode, with now around 150 kids attending (300 on the roll). “We are always in need of another bus so we can bring more kids!” Keck laughs.
This environment of making missions a priority, and the miracles that followed, is the environment Emily has grown up in and witnessed her entire life. Through her efforts to raise funds for BGMC, she says has made new friends, shared more about Jesus with her friends, and even invited some non-Christian friends to church — who ended up really liking it.
“Every penny counts,” she says. “No matter what you give, it’s all blessed and used by God — great things happen when that happens!”
Source: AG News