WADESBORO, N.C. - A Wadesboro, North Carolina pastor followed through on a bet he made to his Vacation Bible School students and slept on the roof of his church last week after they raised over twice their goal of $1,000 for a local charity.
The Rev. Mark Perko is the pastor of Deep Creek Baptist Church. Perko is known for his unique challenges to his students as they raise money for annual charity events. This year, he promised his students that if they raised their goal of $1,000 for Sole2Soul by the evening of June 29, Vacation Bible School’s Family Night, he would sleep on the roof of the church.
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As of June 28, the students had only raised $466. That same day, Perko received a phone call with a commitment for $325, leaving them only $209 from their goal.
But during the final offering taken at the deadline during Family Night, the students collected about $1,400.
Perko could hear cheering as the sutdents kept updating the numbers on their post board. Last second contributors trickled in in small increments of five to ten dollars, plus some loose change brough in by students. By the end of the night, the total was over $2,220.
Photos and videos taken that night show Rev. Perko climbing a ladder to get to the roof, carrying a small air mattress, blanket and phone charger with him to the roof in order to take short “catnaps” during his stay.
This is not the first time Perko has offered an unusual incentive to spark his students into raising money for charity.
“I always try to do something crazy,” Perko said to the Anson Record. “Last year, I said if we raised $700 I’d let the kids throw pies at me. The year before, we collected food and had a large mailing box. I said if we got the box full, I’d dye my hair blue for the last night, Family Night. This year, though, I thought I’d set the bar really high with $1,000.”
Both years, Perko's goals were met and he had to dye his hair and face getting pies thrown at him.
The money raised goes to organizations within the county. The $700 raised two years ago was donated to Anson County Toys for Tots.
“Throughout the night, different people were texting me,” he said. “I had four different individuals until 1:30 (a.m.) drive up just to check on me. One member of our church is a Polkton police officer. He came up and put the floodlight on me just to check," Perko said in his interview to the Anson Record.
"Everyone had such a great time with it. At 5:30, members brought coffee to check in on their way to work.”
Perko originally planned to have breakfast with John Fagala, founder of Sole2Soul, but Fagala had another commitment. Fagala still stopped by the church to visit Perko, bringing breakfast from the Hub restaurant.
Sole2Soul is a charitable organization founded by Fagala and his teenage daughter, Kelli.
Perko estimated that about 230 people were present during Family Night — average attendance for that part of Vacation Bible School — and that there were 50 to 75 there when he went on the roof.
The pastor said he was thrilled that the students raised so much over their goal.
“It was just so awe-inspiring,” Perko said to the Anson Record. “I knew all along we were going to hit the goal; I prayed and asked God to give me a number, an amount, and it was $1,000. I knew he wouldn’t tell me $1,000 if we weren’t going to get it…. I told folks it was just the kind of God we serve. He gives us exceedingly, abundantly more than we think. Think of the 12 baskets left over from a boy’s lunch when Jesus fed over 5,000 people and there were still leftovers.”
Perko said doing feats such as fundraising such a high goal for the group is just part of serving God.
“We try to shovel it out and God always shovels it back,” he said, “And his shovel is bigger than our shovel.”
The students haven’t yet suggested any ideas for next year’s Vacation Bible School fundraising incentive.
“But I promise you they will in coming weeks, and they will be pretty crazy,” Perko said. “It’s probably the craziest thing I’ve ever done — and I’ve been in ministry 26 years — but this was the most fun and most rewarding. It was worth it all.”
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