The anticipation lingered in the air. Everyone had been questioning how much money one group of kids could raise in four weeks. The final cents were being counted … six, seven, eight. Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013, the world would be changed by a group of students. Kirby St. John, the youth pastor of Breakthrough, at River of Life: Assembly of God Church in Cold Spring, Minn., had announced the final tally of the money. A whopping $22,013.18 had been raised for Speed the Light (STL) 2013. Black lights, confetti, balloons, music, and fireworks filled the dark room. Shouts of praise toned out any silence left. “It’s so fun to bless people we don’t know personally, but we know we are making an impact,” said Desiree
St. John, wife of Kirby.
The anticipation lingered in the air. Everyone had been questioning how much money one group of kids could raise in four weeks. The final cents were being counted … six, seven, eight. Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013, the world would be changed by a group of students.
Kirby St. John, the youth pastor of Breakthrough, at River of Life: Assembly of God Church in Cold Spring, Minn., had announced the final tally of the money. A whopping $22,013.18 had been raised for Speed the Light (STL) 2013.
Black lights, confetti, balloons, music, and fireworks filled the dark room. Shouts of praise toned out any silence left. “It’s so fun to bless people we don’t know personally, but we know we are making an impact,” said Desiree
STL is a missions fundraiser. It challenges youth groups from around the country to sacrifice their time and energy on raising money for Third-World countries. This year’s target is India; where they are training up to 30,000 pastors to lead 25,000 churches. The overcast of pastors is because of the fact that many can be killed for teaching about the love of Jesus Christ.
Each year, students are asked to write down a goal to reach. Then they do whatever is laid on their hearts to raise money.
River of Life Church has been doing STL for the last 10 years. In those 10 years, Breakthrough has blessed many nations around the world.
“For me through all of this, I learned that you don’t need money as much as you think you do,” said Nathan Burk, an alumni of Heartland Masters Commission. For many countries around the world, people live off of less than a dollar a day. Moved by that facts, many students gave up a lot of their time to raise money.
A number of students had sacrificed the thought to be “imaginables” in order to raise money for STL. “I cleaned my brothers shower,” said 14-year-old Sierra Hoekstra from Paynesville. “It’s my third year of cleaning his shower to raise money, and I still can’t get over how nasty it is.” Hoekstra also gave up her time to babysit others’ children and pets, sell baked goods, and fast from her iPad for a month. In all, Hoekstra made $308.07. She hopes that her money will help get girls out of sex trafficking.
Tanner Looft, a student at Heartland Masters Commission (HMC) through River of Life, had set a goal of losing weight. He asked around for sponsors to donate $2.50/pound for every pound he had lost. In total he lost 27 pounds, and donated every penny to STL.
It is said that every dollar earned is a life saved and turned to Jesus through missions. This drove the students to get past unimaginable limits and strain for things they never thought they could do.
“God shows up in the last minute, and provides more than we think we need,” said 14-year-old Emily Lindell of Rockford. Emily, along with her mom Tammy Lindell, did a bunch of fundraisers to get their goals. “I sold half of my clothes to second hand stores for money. I also gave up social media and netflix, which, if you know me, is really hard. I sold things on ebay; cleaned cars; babysat kids; sent baked goods to work with my dad for sale; e-mailed and called family; and used the lasting money from my summer job.”
In total, Emily had been short of her $700 goal at the beginning of the last night of STL. But before the end of the night, people had brought her last-minute donations, pushing her past her goal line.
Many students used their money from their paychecks and piggy banks to give what they could to STL. Some had been encouraged by the stories of their friends and had given more than they thought was possible.
Chloe Rogge, 14-year-old of Cold Spring. had almost forgotten about the time she had left to raise money. However, in the last week of fundraising. she had sold paintings on Facebook to friends and family making her a grand total $260. “I love the idea of being able to save someone from eternal death with every dollar I made. I’m impacting people and that’s huge,” said Rogge.
Though many tried fundraising, not all of it went as planned. Some did not get their goals they had made, and others did not get far with their fundraising as hoped. No matter what the circumstances, these students tried their hardest, and did what they could and changed lives forever.
Another HMC student, Andrew Lathe, had the idea of doing what he could. Lathe had listed his car on Craigslist, but did not end up getting to sell. Determined, Lathe asked people from River of Life to pledge money for his goal; in turn Lathe would have to run five miles. “I do not run, so this was a tough thing to do,” said Lathe. From the pledges, Lathe raised $300. Along with the run, he and another HMC student had put together a dodgeball tournament and won. The grand prize was $300, making his grand total for STL $600.
Many learned the value in every dollar, especially the ones wasted, knowing that they could have saved a life. Others had seen that hard work pays off, even if a goal isn’t met. “God shows up, but it takes work,” said Kirby to the youth. Soon they understood exactly what he had said, and put it into practice.
Later in the evening, money was still being brought in and donated to STL. Over and over the students had been told that more and more money was coming in. The church itself had donated an extra $9,000 from tithing the Sunday before.
The whopping $22,013.18 made has since then been increasing and will continually as donations are being brought forth. Through all of the sacrificing, these students have changed the world, and plan on continuing that tradition for years to come.
If there is still anyone who would like to help STL, they can send donations to (with noted STL):
River of Life Church
22881 178th Avenue
Cold Spring MN 56320.