For 32 years I have had the honor of serving in Awana. Awana is an amazing program for boys and girls and it is a true joy to be associated with it. For 30 years I served as the founding Commander at Faith Bible Fellowship and for the past two years I have served as Commander Emeritus. Over those 32 years we have reached thousands of area boys and girls with the Gospel and helped many grow spiritually. I can't think of a better way to invest your life.
Now in my new position I am responsible for handling the finances, ordering materials, training leaders, handling promotion, organizing the Awana store, opening the church each week, and filling in where needed. The only thing I really miss is the presentation of awards to clubbers who have worked hard to earn them. But it was time to pass the other responsibilities to a new Commander and I have no regrets.
But there is one more responsibility that I have retained - the annual Awana adopt-a-club project. This is a program where Awana invites you to adopt a country and for $340 a year you either provide funds for the operating costs of a club in that country or you support the training of leaders in that country. Awana estimates that every $10 given enables at least one clubber to be involved in Awana. Awana has clubs in almost every country, even those in very dangerous areas.
At Faith Bible Fellowship we first adopted clubs 21 years ago. I think we may have started with four or five clubs. But over the years as our club grew and interest increased we expanded that to 14 different countries. Now we have adopted clubs in Brazil, Ghana, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Malawi, Mexico, Nicaragua, Philippines, Romania, Russia, South Africa and Venezuela. In the past we sponsored clubs in places such as Israel, Jordan, Australia, Haiti, Kazakhstan, and Hungary.
Now there have been a number of traditions that we have developed over the years in raising money. For example, clubbers can receive a patch for their uniform for making a donation. Leaders can earn a series of patches, pins and bookmarks for giving a gift. But the biggest tradition is that each club is given a goal and if they meet that goal they get to "pie" a leader. That is a great incentive and lots of fun. And over the years the Kauffman Family puppets have been a regular feature. Originally this involved my three sons. Then we began to use the grandchildren. And as they grew and schedules got more complicated, their participation had to drop off. Now we feature Tim and his three children, the three youngest of our grandchildren. But over the years it has been fun to work at one time with all of my boys and all seven of my grandchildren at various times. Dianne has also used her vent dummy Grandma several times. The last two years Awana has actually sent two of their staff from Chicago to speak to our clubbers doing the month-long campaign because they recognize our unusual commitment to this missions project. And that is a special honor that few Awana clubs ever receive.
And that finally brings us to this year. With 14 clubs our annual goal has been $5,040 for the past several years. And the Lord has allowed us to always reach our goal. In fact, a few times we have actually hit $6,000. But this year the Lord really chose to bless our efforts and we raised an amazing $8,100! Incredible! And we had decided that if we surpassed our goal, the extra amount would be given to Awana's Philippine Relief Fund. These funds are being used to help churches, Awana clubs and clubbers and families who lost everything in the recent typhoon. And we are excited to be able to give $3,060 to that fund.
Now this project requires much of my time and effort in organizing, counting money, keeping records, presenting awards, organizing the puppets and the pieing, and promoting the project. But it is a very special privilege to do this so that children all around the world can meet the Lord. I am blessed to have a small part in this great outreach. I invite you to join with us in praying for the clubs, leaders and clubbers that we are supporting financially, because that must be a major component of this outreach. Incidentally, sometimes we place pictures and reports from our clubs on our Facebook page, fbfawana. We'd love to have you join us there.