“Generous” may not be a term often used for teenagers, but it is certainly an accurate description of the students who attended Falls Creek and the Youth Evangelism Conference (YEC) this summer.
Students and sponsors at those events contributed just under $137,000 to varied mission efforts, and this is just a partial accounting.
Each week at Falls Creek, an offering is received on Thursday evening. One hundred percent of that offering goes to help GO Students take international mission trips the following year. GO Students is the mission initiative of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma (BGCO) Student Ministry, which enables individual students from Oklahoma churches to participate in mission trips in the U.S. and abroad.
The offering received at Falls Creek in 2012 will go to help those students who will participate on trips to Paris and East Asia in 2013. Students and leaders giving to that offering gave a record amount of $78,292.62 during the eight weeks of youth camp. That is $14,000 more than was given in 2011. Students gave to see students go.
Another story of missions giving at Falls Creek came from one of the cabins. A woman who was serving as a sponsor with Duncan, Immanuel shared a story about her daughter who had just left on a mission trip to Africa. While prepping for the trip with her mission team in Texas, she had all of her traveling money stolen.
“She had $700 and it was all taken,” her mom said. “But she told me that even if she had to eat everyone’s spare peanut butter and crackers, she was going on that trip. God had a reason for her to go.”
While sharing this story in her cabin, the students immediately took up an offering for her, and in less than 10 minutes they had collected $1,600, more than twice the original amount needed to send her. She was able to procure the money while on a 20-hour layover in Dubai, before heading to Uganda.
Students were encouraged to buy wristbands and/or T-shirts at Falls Creek for the Change This World project, which provides meals for hungry families in Africa. Over the course of the summer, students purchased nearly $56,000 worth of apparel, which provided 180,000 meals. With online sales added, the total number of meals came to 200,000.
Youth groups then came early to Mission YEC, held at the Church at Battlecreek in Broken Arrow, to help package and load these meals for shipment. It was an outpouring of time, expense and love for students sensitive to the critical needs of others half a world away.
In response to needs closer to home, students who attended YEC on Aug. 9 gave to the Oklahoma Wildfire Relief Fund as they exited the conference that night. Students gave $2,421 to help those afflicted by the fires in various areas of Oklahoma.
In our church economies, students are generally considered the recipients rather than the suppliers of finances. But if we consider how and why students give, we just may find teenagers are some of the most prolific contributors in our congregations. A fact borne out through a summer of generosity!