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2003 PE Report

Americans find comfort in ‘nesting,’ but connecting is another matter (December 22, 2002)

Viewer discretion advised: Reality-based programs stoop to new low (December 15, 2002)

A/G among fastest growing faith groups (December 8, 2002)

Christians play crucial role in foster care (November 24, 2002)

A/G churches remember with outreaches (November 17, 2002)

Elderly face added woes from credit card debt (November 10, 2002)

PE Kidz News from BGMC (October 27, 2002)

Cyber-evangelists find innovative ways to share gospel (October 20, 2002)

Risks, stigma accompany wearing of tattoos (October 13, 2002)

Women lead on-campus ministries (September 29, 2002)

Tobacco, alcohol, gambling industries find underage Internet client base (September 22, 2002)

Marijuana, cocaine have abusive company: Ecstasy, meth and prescription painkillers (September 15, 2002)

September 11: A day that changed American Christians forever (September 8, 2002)

Congress, courts clash over Internet filtering issue (August 25, 2002)

People with disabilities bless churches (August 18, 2002)

Short-term youth binges can result in long-term habit (August 11, 2002)

Christians aim to preserve traditional marriage (July 28, 2002)

Payback time: Christian volunteers motivated to give back to community (July 21, 2002)

Urban training centers minister
to ever-growing population
(July 14, 2002)

E-mail rumors dupe multitudes, hurt credibility (June 30, 2002)

Not so innocent: PG-13 films increasingly push sex, language limits (June 23, 2002)

Skipping church: Why are some Americans staying home on Sunday? (June 16, 2002)

Fudge fellowship: Pastor's wife treats tavern clientele (June 9, 2002)

Persevering nomadic church finally reaches promised land (May 26, 2002)

Tragedy brings A/G church, community closer to God (May 19, 2002)

Couples find God's calling in adopting, raising children (May 12, 2002)

A/G chaplain ministers to women in maximum-security prison (April 28, 2002)

Youth center offers alternative to teens (April 21, 2002)

A week without television (April 14, 2002)

Technological know-how aids San Jose church outreach (March 31, 2002)

Cincinnati racial reconciliation brings inner peace to inner city (March 24, 2002)

District's fund-raising efforts aid pastors planting churches (March 17, 2002)

GED program an effective ministry (March 10, 2002)

Building relationshipis at heart of women's ministries outreach (February 24, 2002)

Single-minded devotion: Unmarried ranks offer ministry opportunities (February 17, 2002)

Bethany College honors black minister pioneer (February 10, 2002)

A/G quarterback wins Unitas Award (January 27, 2002)

Camp Melody plants song of love in boys' hearts (January 20, 2002)

Pastor breaks giving record after 10 days atop billboard (January 13, 2002)

2001 News Digest stories

2000 News Digest stories

Pastor breaks giving record after 10 days atop billboard

(January 13, 2002)

Jay Risner, children’s pastor at James River Assembly of God in Ozark, Mo., prayed for courage while climbing more than 40 feet to the platform of a billboard on the highway across from his church.

Lofty goal: Jay Risner (left) and John Bueno eat breakfast on the billboard platform.

"I’m deathly afraid of heights, but God gave me my legs to be able to walk back and forth on this platform," says Risner, 43. He lived on the platform for 10 days, raising more than $142,000 in cash and $30,000 more in pledges for Boys and Girls Missionary Crusade, shattering his goal of $100,000.

"That’s the largest donation of a single church in any given year," says Joey Ellis, ministry development coordinator for the national BGMC department in Springfield, Mo. "This really raises the bar for everyone."

"I knew it had to be 24 hours a day, seven days a week to have the necessary impact," Risner says. He braved unpredictable November weather, let his beard grow, wore hunter orange for visibility to honking motorists below and entertained a steady stream of visitors. Guests included John Bueno, executive director for A/G World Missions, who shared breakfast one morning with Risner while harnessed to the front of the billboard. The sign depicted a 20-foot image of Risner declaring, I’m "up in the air for kids" for 10 days; Help me raise $100,000 for BGMC/Kids Charities.

"Our culture places a high value on children," Bueno says. "Other cultures are made aware of that value after hearing how much American children and others contribute to BGMC."

Risner originally planned his "sign time" to begin September 23, when southern Missouri weather is typically pleasant. But he delayed the campaign after the September 11 World Trade Center attack. The November stretch for his campaign turned out to be unseasonably warm.

As a missionary in Kenya, Risner saw children with deformed or missing limbs struggling to enter children’s outreaches. "The money raised here will go for wheelchairs, crutches and a new water well for those kids," says Risner with a tremor of emotion.

He is equally emotional about the type of sacrificial giving he saw. "A family of four came up the last night and handed me a check for $10,000. They said they were planning to pay some bills after selling their truck, but God had other plans."

Risner lowered a bucket for ground visitors to drop on-site donations and used a two-way radio, hand signals and a bullhorn to communicate.

Risner lived between two billboards, with about 350 square feet of space constructed by Lamar Advertising, which also donated the sign. "I had a tent, a portable toilet, shower, refrigerator, camping table and chairs, and even an exercise bike," Risner says.

Risner came up with the fund-raiser idea after hearing about Pete Beaulieu of First A/G in Fort Myers, Fla., spending 10 days on a billboard for a fund-raiser last year.

— John Cockroft


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