A Wadesboro pastor slept on the roof of his church last week after Vacation Bible School students raised well over twice their goal of $1,000 for charity.
The Rev. Mark Perko, pastor of Deep Creek Baptist Church, challenged his students to raise the money for Sole2Soul by the evening of June 29, Vacation Bible School’s Family Night. He promised them that if they met their goal, he would sleep on the roof of the church.
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. During the offering taken on deadline during Family Night, the students collected about $1,400.
The students sent Perko out while some counted the money and wrote the amount on a poster board. Perko heard cheering, then turned and saw the figure written on the poster board. A few individual contributions of $5 and $10 have bumped the total figure to $2,220. Some change brought in by students also needs to be counted and added to the total.
A nearly 30-minute Facebook Live video taken by Steve Northcutt showing Perko on the roof had 1,400 views, 73 reactions and 14 shares as of Friday night. In the video, the narrator asked for supporters to bring coffee and check in with the pastor to see if he needed anything as a crowd watched him and took photos.
Perko has made a habit of offering his students unusual incentives for raising money for charity.
“I always try to do something crazy,” Perko said. “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 of the previous two goals in 2015 and 2016 were met, and Perko had pies thrown at him and dyed his hair.
The money raised goes to organizations within the county. The $700 raised two years ago was donated to Anson County Toys for Tots.
Perko carried a small air mattress, blanket and phone charger with him to the roof and took short “catnaps” during his stay.
“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. 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.
The pair raises money and buys shoes to give to children. In March, more than 100 Anson children in kindergarten through sixth grade and their families went to the Rotary Planetarium and Science Center for a Sole2Soul event and were given shoes and treated to activities and a dinner prepared by members of Deep Creek. Some members of the congregation also washed the feet of the students — a tradition rooted in scripture and performed by Jesus for his disciples — and spoke with the students about faith.
Fagala, co-founder of Sole2Soul, said at the time that the organization does not require proof of income in order for families to receive shoes.
Perko said Sole2Soul will hold a similar event July 19 in Monroe, and that another one will be held in Anson soon after school starts later this year. All of the Vacation Bible School money will go to pay for shoes during the events.
The church treasurer will count the remaining change brought in by students and add it to the total. A check for the full amount will then be given to Fagala for Sole2Soul.
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. “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.”
Reach reporter Imari Scarbrough at 704-994-5471 and follow her on Twitter @ImariScarbrough.