SFC with Kelsey Cook
You’re about to meet Kelsey Cook, an incredible young lady with a deep burden and drive for Sheaves for Christ (SFC). She has taken up her cross and raised over $15,000 for SFC in 2013 alone. I encourage you to open your heart to the passion and encouragement she has to share.
InsideOut: Where are you from, and what church do you attend? Is SFC a big focus there?
Kelsey Cook: I am from Flat Rock, Michigan, which is about a twenty minute drive south of Detroit. I attend Apostolic Church of Flat Rock, pastored by Lowell Dunning and my father and senior pastor, Gary Cook. My church has always given to Sheaves for Christ, but in the last two to three years, we have really stepped up our giving.
IO: What about the year 2013 made you decide SFC was something worth your dedication?
KC: I was Michigan’s Real McCoy for 2011 and 2012. At the 2012 Real McCoy Weekend in St. Louis, I began to feel how big SFC was going to be for 2013. That year, two of my fellow Real McCoys raised more than $10,000, and I began to think “well, if two young people can pass the 10K mark, why not go for the 15K mark?” I made my commitment to go for $15,000 on Sunday night before I left Real McCoy Weekend on November 5. I knew I was already going to raise money for SFC in 2013, and God had already shown me that He could make the impossible happen through SFC in 2012. I decided to raise the bar that had been set, knowing God is more than able to handle it.
IO: How much did you raise for the 2013 SFC offering?
IO: How did you put your burden into action and begin raising this money? Where did you begin?
KC: I began in January by giving almost all of my salary, after paying my tithes, to SFC. I did this from January to May. I also began a bottle and can drive in January until September 8 because Michigan is one of a few states with cash bottle return programs. I gave all of my birthday money, the money I made at my speaking engagements, and I passed out SFC cans to as many people as I could. I made periodic posts on Facebook about the importance of giving to SFC, why I was raising money, and how to give money if they felt like they could. My parents and I made a commitment in January that we would not get any drinks but water whenever we went out to eat and give the money we would have spent on drinks to SFC. I was also hired to work for a week cleaning out someone’s basement. I set up a table at the Michigan District Ladies’ Retreat to sell things for SFC, and I participated in my district’s program called MI26. It’s similar to C31, except you find twenty-six people to give $26. That totals $676 for SFC.
I also set up a time to do a 2.6 miles walk-a-thon around my church’s parking lot, and I invited anyone else in my church to participate. I organized a two-day church wide SFC garage sale during our citywide garage sale where anyone could donate or sell their own things. I simply asked for a donation or 10% of their earnings. I was able to show an SFC presentation at my church on SFC Sunday, September 8. During the two Sundays prior, I began sharing my burden and asking for donations.
IO: Do you have any favorite fundraising moments?
KC: I think I had the most fun doing my MI26 walk-a-thon. After I announced the walk-a-thon during one of my SFC presentations, one of the ladies in my church, Sister Angela, got so excited and asked if she could walk with me. She also wanted to see who could get more sponsors, me or her. By the end, it became a friendly competition. She won, but I will never forget what she did for me after our walk. She handed me an envelope with over $400 in it and said, “I want you to have this toward your walk as my donation, and I still have a few more sponsors who will be giving.” She shared my burden with her friends, and they gave to me through her. This was my most humbling fundraising moment.
Another story comes from one of the ministers in our church, Brother Pirlot. He put a note on my Facebook that read, “Kelsey, we will make sure you get to your goal of $15,000 if I have to rob a bank!” On Sunday, September 8th, he gave $1,000 toward my walk. I felt like I had done my part, and God was doing His part through that. I also had two instances where I put on a vest or jacket and pulled out random $20 bills from my pocket. God likes to have fun and throw in surprises sometimes.
Sitting at my dining room table breaking open SFC cans and counting the money was memorable, too. At one point, I sat there for almost four hours rolling $31.50 in…yes…pennies—All 3,150 of them! I also spent time searching the ground for lost pennies or other coins this year because every cent counts and makes it all worth it.
IO: Have you had any good embarrassing moments while raising funds?
KC: I think my most embarrassing moment was during our SFC garage sale. At around two o’clock in the afternoon on the second day, it looked like it was going to rain. Eventually, that “look” turned into small rain drops and then a complete downpour. Everyone there scrambled to get everything inside the garage. Even a few people who stopped to shop helped out. Then of course, as soon as we brought the last thing in, the rain stopped and never rained again that day until after the sale was over! I went right from the garage sale to the church parking lot for our walk. After the first lap, it began raining again. It was well worth the walk, even though the three of us who walked were drenched by the end of it.
IO: Was there a specific moment you can recall when you knew SFC was something you needed to do?
KC: I believe my “moment” was on Sunday April 1, 2012. That was the day my sectional youth director, Br. Nathan Hayes, collapsed during his church’s Friends and Family Day, and he was rushed to the hospital. The doctors found a mass on his brain, which they later diagnosed as a stage 2 Giloma tumor which was growing “roots” into the motor skilled areas of his brain. A little over a week later on April 12, the doctors performed an awake craniotomy to remove as much of the tumor as possible. During those two weeks, I decided if he was not able to help our section make it through the SFC fundraising that year, I needed to do something about it.
My parents and I went to visit him in the hospital that Sunday after his surgery, and I gave him a flyer about my “40km of Fire” SFC walk-a-thon. Beginning in May until September, I set my goal for $2,000, but God helped me raise $6,028 instead. On November 8 that year, Br. Hayes received a call from his neurologist that his stage 3 brain cancer was in remission. Today, he feels God has healed him completely! He and his wife have inspired me so much. The same God who healed him is the same God who raised my SFC goal and proved to me that impossible is nothing with Him.
IO: What keeps you going when the project gets hard?
KC: I just remember why I am raising money for SFC. I have personally been a part of eight Apostolic Youth Corps trips, six North American Youth Congresses, ten Holiday Youth Conventions, and countless youth rallies, district camps, youth retreats, and conferences—including General Conference (Youth Day), Hyphen, and Commune-ity, since turning twelve. Those were all sponsored with SFC funds. My dad started our church in our basement twenty years ago as a home missions church. I have ridden in an SFC vehicle in Austria and stood by one in El Salvador. I was moved by our youth president’s (Br. Castillo’s) story of how SFC grants helped him as a home missions pastor. I received the Holy Ghost at my district campground. I have seen the impact of SFC globally, nationally, locally, and throughout my own district. When I realize how much SFC has affected my own life through its many impacting ministries, it does not take much for me to get going again raising funds.
It’s also motivating when you get to hear the results and know you are a part of something greater than yourself. This year, I got to be a part of the AYC trip to Germany and part of the first ever service held in Berlin. Recently, Bro. Matt Johnson told us one of 2013’s SFC vehicle grants to Global Missions will be going to the Suppan family, missionaries to Berlin. This is one reason SFC is so amazing to be a part of.
When I realize I have done everything I could possibly do to raise money for SFC, it’s time to let God take over and do His part. He always does a much better job than I could ever do. When you have done all you can, it is time to let God shine because He is the whole reason for SFC in the first place. I also want to give credit to our general youth leaders, their wives, and my fellow “Real McCoys” who have constantly prayed for me and encouraged me. They are all awesome, and I am thankful they have been a part of my life. I also want to thank my parents and pastor and church for all their support. I am part of an amazing church and district. I would not be who I am without them or their support. I serve an amazing God!
IO: What words of advice do you want to share with others who feel the burden but don’t know where to start?
KC: Believe in what you are doing, know why you are doing it, and understand the impact of SFC and why it changes so many lives. It’s important to gain a global perspective for what you are giving and why you are raising funds. It not only affects your church, but it also affects your section, district, nation, and the world. Be willing to think big and believe you are playing a role in changing the world in some way on every level. Be aware of all the ministries SFC supports, how they affect you, and what you can be a part of. Some of these ministries have no other outside funding than SFC. You have to have a willingness to have a life changing experience as a giver. Sometimes the giver is more changed than the receiver.
Giving is a lifestyle, and Sheaves for Christ is not simply an offering taken every year on the second Sunday in September; SFC is a way of life. Find someone you trust to whom you can be accountable so you are comfortable embarking on an SFC giving journey. They will help keep you going and give you advice on how to move forward when you hit a rough or low spot. Talk to your pastor and/or youth leader to explain to them your burden and how you want to see it come to pass or how you believe you can inspire others in your church to give.
When you give, it’s also important to give to everything, not just SFC. This does not always mean just money but also giving of yourself to everything you can get involved in, whether in your church, your section, or district. Simply stated, get involved. Realize SFC is a calling and anyone can be a part of it whether you are thirteen or twenty-one. Not everyone is old enough to go overseas as missionaries or preach Youth Congress, but everyone is old enough to raise money for SFC.
Although we are not all old enough to go to the field, we all can raise money so our missionaries can stay on the field. Finally, let God raise your goal, and aim high. He can handle it and see the impossible happen because “impossible is nothing with God.” Possible means man can make it happen, but only God can make the impossible happen. Some things are just worth ACT1V8ing, and Sheaves for Christ is certainly one of them.
What do you ACT1V8? You have the power to change the world and see the impossible happen because one lost is too many. That is the call of the great GO mission.
About the Interviewee
Kelsey Cook is from Flat Rock, Michigan, where her dad is her pastor. Over the last three years, she has been on a mission to raise funds for SFC.