The thousands of kids who attended Adventure Week were so excited about all they were doing and learning that even a pounding thunderstorm during the Friday morning drop-off couldn’t deter them.
They splashed through the puddles, shook themselves off and began another day of learning about Jesus.
With an average attendance of more than 6,000—slightly more than 4,000 a day at the Plano Campus and almost 2,000 at the North Campus—the 2017 edition of Adventure Week (Vacation Bible School) was an absolute success.
When Teaching Pastor Jarrett Stephens stood before a crowd of kids, recalling his own decision to follow Jesus when he was 11 years old, nearly 300 youngsters gave their lives to Christ.
For their missions offering, children collected nearly $18,000 in coins, alone, and more than $48,000 total.
And when it came to missions giving, Adventure Week broke records. Donations reached more than $48,000, including almost $18,000 in pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters—one a battered Indian Head penny minted in 1901.
“We’re looking at about 50 bags of coins, each weighing 30 to 50 pounds,” said Coby Allen, Director of Finance. “I hauled 30 of them to the bank on Friday afternoon and the people there were dumbfounded.
“I ended up buying the bank tellers some Chick-fil-A to thank them for their help,” he said.
The kids attending Adventure Week in Plano collected about $10,400 in change, Coby said, and those at the North Campus collected about $7,400.
The kids donated so much change that Coby, who carted the money in his truck, had to spread the coins to different bank branches.
“There was a little lady at one branch and I kind of smiled at her and I said I had a few bags of coins to drop off,” he said. “She couldn’t believe it.”
The sacks of change were certainly impressive, but the largest portion of mission contributions came in cash, more than $20,000, Coby said.
Nature Nate’s provided honey jars for the children to collect coins.
The Adventure Week donations will be divided between two major mission projects, said Minister to Children Diana Pendley.
The first provides funding to the Church of the Harbor in Baltimore, a part of the Prestonwood Network, she said.
The second will help fund a project to bring honey bees to the Amazon, providing income to help with church plants there. Longtime Prestonwood member Nathan Sheets, owner of Nature Nate’s Honey, will provide a 50-percent match, Diana said.
In fact, Nature Nate’s provided empty honey bottles for the children to collect change for their missions offering.
So every nickel and dime donated by the kids will have an impact.
Each day, when the programs ended and the kids headed for home, staff members and volunteers, many of them senior citizens, went to the Prestonwood KIDZ Ministry Offices and got to work.
The volunteers dumped donations into a machine that sorted the coins before dropping them neatly into burlap bags—one for pennies, and others for nickels, dimes and quarters.
The number of coins was so great, though, that staff members and volunteers occasionally had to shut down the sorting machine to keep it from overheating
Fortunately, Coby said, every last penny was sorted and counted and put in the proper bag and sent to the bank.
Of course, since these coins were destined to support world missions, it seemed only right that some of the donations came from countries far beyond the USA.
Even international coins were collected, representing every continent except Antarctica.
Charles Pendley, Diana’s husband and a faithful volunteer, produced a bag filled with foreign coins that were easily separated from U.S. currency—the sorting machine spit them out for being too small, or too big, too thin or too thick.
The money came from every continent except Antarctica. Queen Elizabeth II appeared on many of the coins, from the far corners of the British Commonwealth.
Coins from Central and South America were particularly plentiful, and not only from the bigger countries.
“We’ve actually had quite a few from Bolivia,” Charles said.
And then there was one he never expected to see in the United States—a silver-colored coin about the size of a quarter, bearing the words “Republica de Cuba.”
Spread across a work table, the variety of foreign coins was incredible—from Zambia to India to Costa Rica to Spain. And once in Europe, you’re bound to find a Euro. The coin machine certainly did.
Several days after Adventure Week ended, the bank was still working on a final number from the children’s donations, Coby said.
“KIDZ Ministry does a count and they bring it to us and we package it up for the bank,” Coby said. “Now the bank is doing its count.”
Coby has a pretty good idea of what the final number will be, and it’s amazing. But the thing that impressed him most of all was the number of coins from foreign lands—strong indicator of the growing diversity in North Texas and across the United States.
“I’m encouraged,” he said. “You see people from so many different places coming here. It’s really pretty amazing what God and the Holy Spirit are doing.
“And that certainly speaks ‘Gospel’ to me.”