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March 24, 2024

Thank You! A Record Breaking Pledge Drive

March 24, 2024
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Inviting our Audience into the Mission

If you were tuning into Relevant Radio last Tuesday, you couldn’t help but hear about our Pledge Drive for The Merry Beggars. Founded in 2019, The Merry Beggars joined Relevant Radio in 2019 and became their family entertainment division. We have produced hundreds of episodes of productions like A Christmas Carol, On the Night Train, and now our new series The Saints: Adventures of Faith and Courage!

Peter Atkinson in the studio, early in the morning of the Pledge Drive

We release all of our shows for free because we want to impact as many lives as possible and because - as Jesus told us - “Freely you have received; freely give.” (Mt 10:8) But, as you know, producing stories with world-class artists takes financial resources. So, with the Relevant Radio show hosts, I went on air on Tuesday, March 19, 2024 for twelve straight hours. I shared the mission behind The Merry Beggars The Saints series and invited listeners in to partner with us on this mission. We didn’t know what the response would be. And we were blown away by people’s generosity and excitement about our mission.

Joining Relevant Radio

When we joined Relevant Radio two and a half years ago, I could never have predicted what lay ahead. We had a few audio productions under our belt, but only a few. And we certainly didn’t have a production as ambitious and large as The Saints in our minds.

Since joining Relevant Radio, we’ve formed an incredible team of artists. Over 400 artists work on The Saints, from actors to sound designers to writers to directors. And each of them bring a level of excellence that is rare in Christian entertainment. As a result, we’ve published over 90 episodes and have another 135 planned for the rest of 2024. And on Tuesday, you voted for us to continue on that path and continue producing The Saints!

This was the first time we went on-air on Relevant Radio to ask for listener support. We didn’t know what to expect. And we were overwhelmed by the amount of audience enthusiasm and engagement. Our goal was to raise $500,000 - which is a lot for one day! Not only did we exceed that goal, but we broke records for the number of calls coming in. We had over 3,500 donations in 13 hours. 3,500 people who wanted to “Give to Inspire Future Saints” by supporting The Merry Beggars’ show and mission.

It is so moving to see people partner with our mission in big and small ways. From the prayers we receive to the gifts of $25 and $25,000 - it all works together to make The Merry Beggars’ shows capable of impacting hundreds of thousands of families and millions of listeners. And we can’t do any of that without every single one of you.

But there’s also a small behind-the-scenes story I wanted to share as well.

Walking by Faith, not by Sight

I got into the studio at 5:30am, preparing for our 6am start on-air with Morning Air. I got set up at the studio and set up my dashboard. We have a dashboard - thanks to the incredible tech team at Relevant Radio - that lets us see how many gifts have been received, who is giving them, how we are doing, etc. 

Well, the Morning Air team (John Morales, Sarah Tafoya, and Glen Lewerenz) and I begin pitching, sharing about The Merry Beggars mission and our need for your support. All seems to be going well until I notice the dashboard isn’t moving. Not a single gift has come in. Time passes. We’ve been pitching on air for 40 minutes and not a single new gift has come in. Not a single gift!

At this point, I was faced with a choice. I either get frustrated and start becoming stressed, tense, and despairing that we’ll succeed. Or I surrender it to God’s Providence and Saint Joseph’s intercession. For the past few months, as I’ve been working on inviting financial support for The Merry Beggars, I’ve received a special grace: detachment from the outcome. I’ve been able to simply share our mission, our impact, our need, and invite people to partner with us. So this was the final test, it seemed.

After seven years of building The Merry Beggars, two and a half years of building it inside of Relevant Radio, and the whole mission hanging on one day’s response - this was the deciding moment.

And, for a moment, it looked like this was the end of the road for The Merry Beggars.


At that moment at 5:30am on Tuesday, I made an interior choice: no matter what happens, surrender it to Saint Joseph’s intercession and God’s Providence. If we don’t raise a single dollar, I will trust in God! If we end up raising the funds we need to continue our mission, I will trust in God!

So, persevering in faith, we continued pitching on air, sharing the mission of The Merry Beggars, and joyfully proclaiming the witness of the saints! If God permitted The Merry Beggars journey to end on March 19, 2024, then so be it. I will trust in the Lord.

And then I get an email from our CFO: “I don’t think the reporting portal is working right now. Keep going. You’re doing great!!!!” We had already received $10,000 in gifts from 86 people. The dashboard had simply not been working.

That’s when the emotion flooded in as I realized that the audience was responding. That people were excited by our mission and our impact. That our work for 7 years had not been in vain. And that God was providing a pathway forward - with Saint Joseph’s intercession! (It was his Feast Day - his Solemnity.)

Later in the day, with Drew Mariani, during Pledge Drive

“Marathon Man"

And so, from that moment on, through 12 hours of pitching, conversation, samples from our shows, and audience testimonials, over 3,500 people from across the country partnered with our mission and raised over $500,000.

This was - to date - the most consequential moment for The Merry Beggars. As John Morales repeated to me while the dashboard was not working, “We walk by faith and not by sight!” (And because of the broken dashboard, we literally couldn’t see the gifts coming in!) Through The Merry Beggars’ history - right up until Tuesday - we had walked in faith, trusting that there was an audience eager for our shows - shows that supported and encouraged their family’s faith and culture. And 3,500 of them voted with financial support for our productions!

(John also told me that I’ve been given the nickname “Marathon Man” for the twelve hours of pitching on-air. It was fun - I loved every minute of it!)

And now - for the rest of 2024 - we are eager to fulfill that promise of beautiful, exciting, and adventurous stories of saints for audiences across the country.

Building the Future

We sent an email the day before The Merry Beggars’ Pledge Drive, saying that “Tomorrow we build the future.” I think that’s absolutely right. This past Tuesday we saw thousands of audience members excited to partner with us on doing just that: building the future of our culture.

Building a future of beautiful, exciting, human stories that lead us towards God. We did that through A Christmas Carol, On the Night Train, and now The Saints. And we’ll be doing that through hundreds more episodes of The Saints - telling the stories of the most incredible men and women who surrendered their lives to Christ.

I often feel that what we are doing right now is building the foundation for what comes next. That producing hundreds of these audio stories, building an audience of millions, and impacting millions of lives in their journey of faith is just the beginning.

If you had told me that when I first filled out my application to Columbia University back in 2017 and asked Michael Novak for a recommendation letter, that that would be the beginning of telling saint stories all across America and Africa, I would never have believed you. It is incredible to see where God’s Providence has led us. 

And I know, with your prayers and partnership, it is just the beginning.

Please keep our team in your prayers. Pray for our writers, sound designers, actors, graphic designers, production crew, and all the artists involved in these productions. If you are doing something good, the Devil won’t sleep! So we need your prayers as we attempt to empty ourselves out and let ourselves and our work be vessels for the Holy Spirit.

I can’t tell you how grateful I am for last Tuesday and how excited I am for what comes next.

Under Saint Joseph’s Intercession,

Peter Atkinson

Founder and Executive Producer

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