Funds Help 'Reach Reche': Local Youth Raise $5K to Build Church, Pay Pastor's Salary in Ethiopia

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Russ Cooper knew that for $5,000, a church could be built in Ethiopia and a pastor's salary could be paid for two years. Last June, he presented the idea of raising that money to West Jackson Baptist Church, where he is the student ministries pastor.

His ministry associate, Joe Ball, suggested the fundraising should be a project for the church's high school students to pursue, Cooper said. Indigenous Outreach International, a ministry Cooper works with, would coordinate the purchase of materials and training of the church leaders in Ethiopia.

"At the start of the school year, we encouraged them to do this themselves," he said. "We told them, we don't want you to just ask your parents for money. We want it to be your project."

The project was called "Reach Reche" after the town where the church was to be built. Students made T-shirts, gave money from their part-time jobs and hosted bake sales and cookouts. Just before Christmas, the group was about $1,500 short of the goal, Cooper said.

"So then we asked each of the church's 12 Sunday School classes to help. One had a bake sale, others sold half-chicken dinners and others made bracelets," he said.

The youth group had no idea if they met their goal until March 28, when Cooper announced the total raised -- $5,030 -- during church on Wednesday night.

Cooper had returned from Ethiopia a few days before making the announcement. He brought back photos and video.

"They started the building. They had the roof and walls up," he said. "The church there provided the land, the labor. We paid for the materials and the pastor's salary for two years."

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SOURCE: Jackson Sun
Tracie Simer