By Susan Mires
ST. JOSEPH – What would you do if you won $10,000?
One Missouri family decided to forego a new car, extravagant Christmas presents or a dream vacation. Instead, they gave the money to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for international missions.
They are members of Frederick Boulevard Baptist Church in St. Joseph, and they won the money through a promotion sponsored by the St. Joseph Area Chamber of Commerce. Local merchants gave away tickets during the holiday season to encourage people to shop locally. On Dec. 21, one ticket was drawn from 600,000 with one winner to receive the $10,000 prize.
Micah Fries, pastor of Frederick Boulevard, said he received a call from one of his members early in the morning. The man had checked his tickets and discovered he’d won the prize. He and his family prayed about it and decided to remain anonymous and give the money to the missions offering.
“God has been good to us,” the man said in a statement released by the Chamber. “God’s given this to us, I think, for us to give away.”
This is the third year the Chamber has sponsored the contest, but the first time the winner donated the prize, said Natalie Leonard Redmond of the Chamber.
“St. Joseph is full of generous people, so I wasn’t 100 percent shocked, but I did think it was a nice gesture,” she said.
The Chamber allows the winner to be anonymous, but did request a ceremony to award the prize so the community could celebrate. Fries accepted the money on behalf of the church, but said the money was immediately directed to the missions offering.
“It was a surprise to receive this gift, but at the same time, for the family who gave, it is no surprise. They are Gospel-centered,” Fries said.
The gift may have inspired other church members to give. Last year, Frederick Boulevard gave $34,000 to Lottie Moon. In light of budget cuts at the International Mission Board, the church set this year’s offering goal at $50,000.
But giving far exceeded the goal, with the total offering at $67,000, nearly double last year’s amount. Fries said about $34,000 came in during the last week, which included the prize donation.
“We’re pretty excited about it,” he said. “We were trusting God for a big goal and we saw it happen.”
The event was covered by local media and generated significant attention in the community. Surprisingly, several people were upset that the money would be spent overseas instead of in the local community.
Redmond said the winner can do whatever they choose with the money.
“They were excited to do that. It was a heartwarming story right at Christmas,” she said.