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When Pastor Jason Belyeu heard about the Real Estate Rescue contest on financial guru Dave Ramsey's nationally syndicated radio show, he jumped at the chance to win some much-needed cash.
But the Ridgeland resident, who's the pastor at two area churches, didn't need the money for himself. He wanted the money for one of his churches -- Beaufort Seventh-day Adventist Church, which rents space at Second Mt. Carmel Baptist Church in Beaufort. Beaufort Seventh-day Adventist has plans for a building of its own, and Belyeu thought it would be great if he could win a little money to go into the building fund. His other church -- Hilton Head Island Seventh-day Adventist Church -- already has its own building.
"I'm trying to help my church build a new home, if you will, build a church building, and so that was just my first thought when I heard the contest," Belyeu said.
"I was like, 'Wow, we could really use that money.'<2009>"
Contestants were encouragednter online as many times as they wanted in order to qualify for a random drawing for several $1,000 giveaways and a $10,000 grand prize. The contest was meant to help people cover the costs of home repairs or mortgage payments.
A personal money management expert, radio talk show host and author of the New York Times best-seller "The Total Money Makeover," Ramsey is most known for his 13-week Financial Peace University program, which aims to teach people how to get out of debt.
While doing chores around the house one day in May, Belyeu spent about an hour going back and forth to the computer to enter and re-enter his name in the contest. He had no idea his persistence would pay off, but a few days later he received a call from Ramsey live on the radio, telling him he was the grand prize winner.
"Are you serious?" Belyeu asked Ramsey. "Oh, my word! ... I've never won anything in my life like this. ... This is like one of the best days of my life."
Ramsey seemed pretty impressed when Belyeu told him he planned to give the $10,000 to his church.
"There's no telling what this is going to spark," Ramsey said during the on-air call about the pastor's generosity. "You're incredible, man. I really appreciate you."
Belyeu surprised his congregation with the good news during his sermon June 19. He hopes the church will start building its new facility within the next three years.
Deaconess and longtime member of the Beaufort church Willie Dee Middleton of Lady's Island said the church had its own building in Laurel Bay but sold it to Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort in 2008 and bought five acres of land on Castle Rock Road. The church has plans for the new building, which will cost $1.6 million to build.
"I was just so pleased that a young person could be so giving and selfless for the cause of the Lord," Middleton said. "It was outstanding. It was encouraging to all of us. If he can make that sacrifice, I know we can do more. I think it will encourage other people to give more because it did for me."