Under no circumstances will this ministry contract debt...we will not presume on the future, but will trust in God to provide funds as needed.
We will not state current financial needs but will share, after the fact, how God has provided for this ministry so that He alone might receive the glory.
We will pray to God and ask Him alone to supply this ministry's financial needs; therefore, no money will be solicited nor will "fund raising" be engaged in by our Board of Directors or paid staff.
Staff salaries are established by the Board of Directors and given only as God provides the funds. No special appeals will ever be made to obtain any salary.
Annually, an account of all funds received and spent will be prepared and will be made available, upon request, to any desiring the same. A financial report will be publicly presented at our Annual Meeting in April of each year .
It has been our consistent practice to solicit no funds for the needs of our work. This has been a topic of much discussion over the years by interested persons. Ultimately, this was formalized into a policy that our Board of Directors and paid staff would solicit no money or engage in fund raising activities of any kind. I would like to summarize why I am convinced that fund raising is not a wise course for the Mission to pursue.
(1) Public pleas for donations will open us to compromise and endanger our Christian witness.
We have maintained a clear Christian presence and profession in the community for many years. We must do nothing to jeopardize this commitment. If we solicit funds from anyone and everyone we are opening ourselves to many potential problems. We cannot legitimately refuse any contribution under such an approach. What happens if a church, person or group, with whom we are in strong disagreement due to their teachings or views or purposes, hears this general appeal for funds and decides to give a sum of money? What are we to do if they request our meeting with them in front of their place of operations to receive the money as the television cameras record their generosity? In short, we would not want the Mission to be used by certain persons or groups to gain advantage or legitimacy for themselves, and cause us hurt in the process, before the eyes of the community.
(2) Public pleas for money will potentially cause us to lose our distinctiveness as a Christian endeavor.
We are striving to present this work to the churches and community-at-large as a “local missions project.” I fear that we will be seen, in the eyes of many, as just another charity or social service organization in the area. It would be thought remarkable for missionaries to solicit funds from the public or to be funded by secular cooperative efforts instead of being funded by churches and the Christian community.
(3) Public pleas for money will put us in the position of having to return time and again for money.
Our focus will not be devoted to ministry, but to fund raising. We will be tempted to gauge our success, as an organization, on how much money we will be able to raise. I have observed other organizations – charitable endeavors, whose primary business appears to be perpetuating themselves by frequently hosting award banquets and fund raising luncheons, who constantly mail fund raising letters and cards, who seek photo opportunities from the media – newspaper and television. Others who have become familiar with the internal operations of some local and national charities, have voiced these same concerns. Our focus needs to be peculiarly on advancing the kingdom of God.
(4) God has proven Himself faithful in matters of financial provision for the Mission in the past.
Hazel Marcus died on June 4, 1992, leaving an estate valued in excess of $2 million. The Christian Food Mission was the second largest beneficiary of the estate! Doubtless, we received more money from this endowment than we could have possibly raised of our own efforts. With the money nearing exhaustion, following our Annual Meeting in May, 1999, we received an unsolicited check for $43,000 in June and checks for $10,000 in December and $5000 in January – these were unquestionably direct answers to prayer due to the remarkable circumstances under which they were received.
(5) Fund raising among the churches is a questionable and inappropriate practice for the Mission to pursue.
I am personally uncomfortable going into a church and suggesting to the leadership or congregation that they should support the Mission financially. I have no way of knowing whether a church should budget money, or even take up a special collection, for the Mission. I have no way of knowing the current financial health of a church and would not want to be presumptuous, nor am I able to ascertain what ministry or ministries the Lord may be leading a congregation into. Only the Holy Spirit knows such things. There are, undoubtedly, churches that should not financially commit to the Mission but should be focused on other areas of pursuit. Also, since the Christian Food Mission is not a work of any one denomination, where it may be appropriate for churches within a denomination to request (or even require) funds from the member congregations for support of their missionaries, children’s home, student union, etc. we are not in the same position.
(6) We should use the Mission to not only feed the needy and evangelize, but also to strengthen our brothers and sisters.
My experience with the churches over the past few years indicates that many congregations and numbers of professing believers are struggling spiritually. To target the churches for fund raising and view them as primarily sources of money tends to obscure the fact that we need to be a blessing to our brothers and sisters. When we speak, the primary concern should not be to raise money, but to be a blessing; when we send newsletters, it is to be a blessing by what we share and to motivate others to serve Christ. If our big concern is to raise funds, we will tend to tailor what we share to accomplish that end alone.
(7) When we receive money without solicitation or fund raising efforts on our part, we can give God all the glory.
To share what God has done, in answer to our prayers alone, allows us to prove the validity and importance of prayer to others. This causes us to grow in faith and to build up the faith of our weaker brothers and sisters. By His advancing funds or withholding funds, according to His good pleasure, we are given direction as to when we are to expand (as we did in 1994) and when to simply maintain. The reception or lack of funds may be used as an indicator from God as to His wishes.
(8) Fund solicitation targeting segments of the Christian community could hinder our ability to be autonomous in decision-making.
As long as all the funds we receive are unsolicited, they may be used as the Board of Directors are led by the Lord (as allowed by our by-laws). From time to time there will be special projects, which are consistent with our pursuits, deemed needful of, at least, temporary funding. Due to remarkable circumstances regarding the reception of funds, there will be individuals whom the directors may be led to fund for designated tasks. Sister ministries who provide materials, support or services may be voluntarily financially assisted as the Lord makes funds available. These are internal matters to be decided by our Board of Directors as they are familiar with the ministry’s aims and operation.
(9) Considering much thoughtful discussions over the past few years, it is the most logical conclusion that we should not raise funds.
After much discussion, for many years it had been our practice to apply for no money or goods from any government agency. This was officially formalized into a motion and resolved in 1996. After much discussion, we determined to make no application to the United Way for funding. This was officially formalized into a motion and resolved in 1997. Finally, in 1999, a “Financial Policy and Practice” resolution, consisting of five points, was passed. We have officially determined to only make reports as to the Lord’s dealings with the ministry and not pursue solicitations.
In conclusion, there should be no uncertainty or misunderstanding in this matter. We should seek after God alone in prayer to financially sustain this ministry. At the same time, we will afford ourselves, through speaking opportunities, answers to individual inquiries, informational pamphlets, newsletters, videos, our Annual Meeting, our web site, etc., the opportunity to familiarize others with the work in which we are involved. We will trust God to then move on His select people’s hearts to give and we will be ready to receive funds from sources as He chooses. We will publicly honor God by reporting on how He has provided and what He has accomplished. We (our Board of Directors and paid staff) should not be involved in fund raising efforts of any kind. I have no doubt whatsoever that God can be trusted to do only what is good and in the best interests of His people and His work.
It is consistent with the reasoning stated above that those intimately familiar with the financial status of the Mission, namely the Board of Directors and the paid staff, should not normally volunteer financial information to others. Monetary lack or plenty should not be divulged as this could serve to influence potential donors. Potential donors should give or withhold as they feel led of God and not as a consequence of human persuasion.
It is also consistent with the above statements that written application for grants from foundations, denominations, etc. should not be pursued by our directors or staff. This is a form of solicitation for funding.
All matters expressing the current financial situation of the ministry should be held in strict confidence. Exceptions to this rule as an organization, in order to maintain accountability to our supporters and report on the Lord’s provision, have been regularly stated. For several years it has been our practice to publish and distribute a newsletter twice a year generally explaining our current disposition. A detailed financial report is publicly given at the Annual Meeting by our Board treasurer.
Our Board of Directors, who meet regularly throughout the year, are kept knowledgeable of our financial status. It is their responsibility to be prayerful, available to answer general questions about expenses and income, and wisely oversee the distribution of all monetary gifts received.
Although the Board of Directors or staff do not raise or solicit funds, clubs, businesses or churches, may be allowed to do so as they determine – with the approval of the directors. It is not the purpose of the directors to encourage or discourage legitimate efforts at monetary assistance toward the Mission by others. When fund raising activities are pursued by those not serving on the Board of Directors or being paid as staff, it should be initiated and carried out by these other parties.
We certainly need money to operate; we trust our Lord will regularly and repeatedly supply our needs in answer to the prayers of His people. He has given us no reason to doubt His faithfulness. Thus, we actually have no “financial problems” to solve. We are uniquely positioned to reveal to others the love and provision of our Lord toward His people.
[By sharing these thoughts, it is not my intention to discredit any other organization or group who does not follow these same practices or with whom we have chosen to not affiliate ourselves. This information has been shared as a means of explaining our organization’s reasons for choosing this uncommon approach to finances.]
George Mueller dedicated himself completely to the Lord's service. He was convicted to incur no debt and ask no one for financial support. He determined to tell no one of his needs, but chose to pray to the Lord in secret. Using this method alone, for some fifty years, he was able to maintain: Christian day schools for the poor; care for the needs of more than 2,000 orphans; freely distribute Bibles and Christian literature; and give away very large sums of money to various missions and missionary endeavors around the world.
Hudson Taylor made a commitment to the Lord to serve as a full-time medical missionary to China. He also determined to live by the principles of being debt free, never raising funds for the work the Lord had given him, and praying only to the Lord to meet his needs. Using this approach alone, not only were his personal needs met, but he was able to provide for his large family and establish the China Inland Mission. He was responsible for the placement of hundreds of missionaries from all over the world into the vast reaches of China.
One would do well to study the lives of these two great Christian men. Their appreciation of Scripture, their unswerving faith and trust in God, and their willingness to tackle the most challenging of tasks, led them to complete dependence on God. These humble, godly men where not exceptional in ability but were wholly given to the Lord and were convinced of their callings. Time and again, God provided for them and sustained their work. Pleas to God for financial aid and other assistance were answered time and again, often coming from the most unexpected sources and under miraculous circumstances. The numerous examples of God's faithfulness to His chosen are stunning. Through it all, Mueller and Taylor could take no credit for their success. All the glory belonged to God alone.