A Direction for the Future of WHMI:
A Summary of the Vision from Stuart Sheehan, President
World Hope Ministries International
THE LAST FIVE:
Over the last five years, WHMI has greatly expanded its global footprint. The majority of this expansion has involved growth in our World Hope Bible Institute. At the same time, we have added several new World Hope Global Reach partners and continue excellent relationships with other indigenous partners. This expansion has required the development of a small but very efficient full-time staff, a physical base of operations, and steep learning curve! This expansion and transition has been supported by a group of faithful friends. This relatively small group has invested deeply in this ministry and has absorbed the cost of our expansion. These donors live and work within a relatively small geographic area. While the growth of this ministry has required significant financial growth, the make-up of the donor family has been fairly static.
OUR CURRENT SITUATION:
The opportunities before us are significant. WHMI has become a major global leader in providing quality theological education to pastors and church leaders in remote and underserved areas around the world, and continues to be a trusted partner, working side by side with indigenous leaders. Currently, we are training thousands of pastors and impacting tens of thousands of believers around the world. However, WHMI continues to find itself cash strapped every few months. The base from which we draw support is increasingly called upon to carry the financial weight of a growing global ministry. Because we have not aggressively grown our donor family, it naturally gets smaller over time. In truth, because donors’ lives are always changing, unless a donor base is growing, it will invariably diminish. This places even more pressure on our faithful supporters. Furthermore, as much of our donor family is located in a specific geographical area, economic pressures in that region adversely affect our donor base. The cash position of WHMI in 2016 has demonstrated this—the monthly receipts for 2016 did not increase, as they have for the last several years. Rather, the monthly receipts are down around 20-30%. We have looked closely at the status of each individual donor and have consulted directly with several of them. They assure us that there has been no decrease in interest or in commitment. If anything, they are more committed than ever. However, many of our donors are experiencing significant economic pressures or, in other cases, the last five years have brought changes to their employment status. We have heard similar accounts from other non-profits.
WHMI is at a turning point. In order to sustain the current ministry and prepare for the future, we must expand the WHMI donor family. If we continue to depend only on our current supporters, the ministry will significantly diminish over the next 24-36 months. I do not believe God is calling us to shrink.
I have wrestled with God on this for nearly six months. Five years ago when God was pressing me to leave pastoral ministry and come to WHMI full-time, it was a struggle for me—for my faith. I had told the Lord that if He would provide, I would go. He showed me how small my faith was. Instead of my telling God that if He provided I would go, God was calling me to go and trust Him to provide. What He wanted was faith, not just my willingness to change jobs.
With the same conviction in my heart, I believe God is leading today. Rather than shrink, I believe God is calling us to another mammoth step of faith—to the future, to grow. Vision 5 is a summary of five key aspects to which I believe God is calling us. Each represents a call to faith—just like God called me and Amy five years ago. Each of the steps is a part of the whole and leads us toward the future to which God is calling us.
THE NEXT FIVE:
I believe the next five years will be years of continued growth, training, and graduating tens of thousands of trained pastors and church leaders, working side by side with new indigenous partners, and mobilizing an army of thousands who will obey the Great Commission. To see this goal realized, we must take definite and immediate steps. These are the steps I have shared with our Board of Directors, and I am deeply grateful for their support:
1) will include a capital campaign with a goal of $200,000 beyond current gifts to be raised by September 1. I am calling on you to pray with me. Everyone in the WHMI family will be asked to make a sacrificial gift for this cause. Begin to pray about that even now. These funds will relieve our immediate cash flow issues; but more than that, they will provide the needed resources to transition to our next phase of ministry. Please be praying about what you will give. This goal will require sacrifice.
2) will include calling a staff member who has experience and expertise to help us grow our donor family. This growth must be beyond our current faithful friends and must expand the knowledge of what God is doing through WHMI to a much broader, national audience.
3) recognizes the need to call a staff member who is highly capable of overseeing the business, financial, and operational aspects of what has become a very large and complex global ministry. This must free the missionary and the support staff to focus more on ministry.
4) will have as its goal to grow our annual unrestricted gifts by $300,000 in 2017. The estimated budget for the fiscal year, 2018, should exceed $1.1 million (our current budget is $812,000).
5) Over the next 24-26 months, will help us see the need to wisely and carefully add additional support and executive staff to oversee the ministry as it expands.
The next eight weeks are critical. Just like five years ago, I am excited and I am terrified. However, I am more afraid of disobeying God than I am of taking this huge step of faith.
Therefore, I am asking you to pray, to faithfully seek God. I ask you to join with me and Amy, on our faces before God, asking Him for the faith to obey all He is calling us to do. As I recently told one of our Executive Board members, if I go down, I want to go down in flames for Christ… and I am inviting you to go with me, for His glory!
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