Penny touched so many people; her vision and caring reached around the world.
• Together, Larry and Penny Rice began the New Life Evangelistic Center (NLEC). In 1972, living in only a small trailer, they began the calling to minister to the poor and homeless of St. Louis.
• From the beginning, Penny led the singing during rallies, church services, coffeehouse meetings, etc. Her voice filled whatever space was in use with beautiful, sincere praise.
• One of the first things Penny did in the growing ministry was organize the Kid’s for Christ Clubs and hold puppet shows in the area parks to reach the inner-city children.
• Penny donated the inheritance left by her mother, who died when she was 8, to help purchase NLEC’s first headquarters at 2107 Park Ave in St. Louis.
• Penny’s development of the business and accounting offices of the NLEC headquarters impacted the ministry tremendously. In all areas that Penny served, her immaculate attention to detail and extraordinary sense of organization has been appreciated by all.
• Writing was a talent and a passion of Penny’s. During her life, she wrote hundreds of inspirational and thought-provoking articles. She was a writer and co-editor of the New Life Zoa Free Paper for many years. Her writings have been distributed all around the world. She was very proud when she heard that some of her writings had been printed in Telagu—a dialect of India.
• When NLEC filed to acquire its first TV station, Channel 24, Penny typed the entire application. (Quite a feat!)
• The ministry grew to include free stores, emergency food pantries, financial assistance programs, and homeless shelters, all over the state of Missouri and other areas.
• In 1986, Channel 25 went on the air in New Bloomfield, MO. Penny eventually became the General Manager for the television station and became responsible for programming, marketing, personnel and the other various aspects involved.
• Penny loved being a part of the annual Christmas Party in St. Louis. For years she would stand up during the party and share a testimony, inspirational message, or song. As small children, participating in this event was a part of the Rice family Christmas tradition.
• Fundraising was another of Penny’s gifts. She was always involved in sharing the work of the ministry with donors. Whether on a telethon, through a personal letter, or donation campaign, Penny’s creativity, sincerity, dedication, and compassion inspired thousands of caring people to invest in sharing Christ with the hurting.
• Penny was very active in supporting Larry’s television ministry and often accompanied him on his shows. She began her own TV series entitled Focus on Faith, during which she interviewed various Christians and talked with them about their faith, experiences and ministries.
• While working as General Manager of Channel 25 in New Bloomfield, Penny naturally became a part of the development of the Mid-America Care Center, which adjoined the TV station. Along with sharing her vision and passion for the building, Penny did not realize she would even become the contractor, stepping in when the hired contractor left mid-project. There was little this woman of God could not accomplish.
• NLEC’s ministry began to span the globe, reaching areas in India, Russia, Haiti, and Africa. Penny and Larry traveled together to India on two memorable occasions. Penny’s heart went out to the overwhelming number of orphans there. She returned home and began a sponsorship program for the orphans ministered to by NLEC in India. She personally sponsored a child through the program for years.
• Becoming a teacher had been Penny’s dream since childhood. While she left college after her third year to pursue a life in ministry, this desire remained strong. The dream was lived out as she taught countless people in the NLEC training program. Everyday found Penny patiently and lovingly guiding someone, either in leading Bible Studies, giving training on the computer or in accounting, and an endless list of other ways. She had a teacher’s heart, and the legacy of her writings will carry on that spirit.
• Perhaps most recently, Penny began the foundation Consider the Lilies, a ministry dedicated to mentoring, counseling, supporting, educating, and advocating for women with breast cancer. In her foresight and wisdom, Penny knew that her battle against cancer could be used to reach out to women facing similar struggles. The foundation continues as a testament of her strength and faith.
Penny’s interests and passions:
• Genealogy—Penny gathered long histories of both her family and Larry’s, often doing much research herself. Having no connection with her father’s family, it was a great accomplishment for her to make connections and learn more of who she was. She discovered sisters, cousins, aunts, uncles and others that she never knew she had.
• Journaling—Penny was an avid journaler. She kept a daily journal since the age of 12. These journals serve as a roadmap to her life and provide an intimate connection to her for her family.
• Native American Culture—Having discovered she was of Cherokee descent, Penny had a fond appreciation for the Cherokee culture and Native American culture in general.
Mother of 3 children: Chris, Stephanie, Jennifer
Grandmother of 5: Chris Aaron, Gabrielle, Alathea