LONG TIME NO HEAR...
Apologies! It's been quite a few weeks since you last heard from us - in fact, since just before the closing date for applications on 11th December last year. Busyness has had something to do with it, of which more later.
However...right away you may want to know the state of play for Cycle Two, 2016, so here goes:
What stage are we at now?
- Number of valid applications received: 82 (last year 56)
- Total requested: $2,332,073 (last year $2,285,404)
- Average ask: $28,440 (last year $40,810)
Four parallel streams are moving at the minute:
Stream 1 - The current Project Partners, who have so far pledged about $400,000, are grading the projects according to which ones they are most likely to support. Those grades are due back in this office by 12th March, and when aggregated, will reveal which applications have floated to the top and which, unfortunately, have sunk without trace. We in the Foundation office do not interfere with those gradings. Our most cherished principle is - The Donors Decide.
Stream 2 - Until March 12 we will continue actively to seek new Project Partners. Last year the ratio of finance awarded to finance requested was about 1:4.3. This year I would love to see that get at least to 1:3, which would require finding about $777,000 by that shut-off date - still not a huge sum when we are casting our nets worldwide. A 1:2 ratio would require $1,166,000, and so on. If that's a way in which you could participate in God's work worldwide, give me a call.
Very shortly after March 12, God willing, we will be commencing due diligence on those projects that have floated to the top of the Project Partner preferences, again asking the YFC Area Directors and Regional Directors for help. They will be glad to know that we are simplifying the form a little, so it should be slightly less difficult to fill in than last year.
Stream 3 - We will be making a few post-grant visits to assure the Project Partners that the monies given in Cycle One are being used for what they were said to be needed for. As absolute gifts from God, two great men in YFC have
offered to do a few visits each - David Schultz (left),
for many years the head of YFC/USA's Project Serve Dept, and Paul Gilmore (right)
still involved with YFC EMENA's Eastern Europe Region. Each has a strong combination of business
experience and ministry involvement, and you may hear from one or other of them. David is based in Colorado, Paul here in Northern Ireland. (David@foundationforthenations.org
Stream 4 - We are busily preparing the Distribution Gathering, which this year will take place near the home of two of our Project Partners, Clarence & Faye Berry (below, with Dr John Donaldson at the church where the business meetings will be held), outside Orlando in Florida, May 25/26th. That's where the Partners from different corners of the world will come to decide in detail who gives what to whom, and all prayers for that would be much appreciated. Successful projects will hear immediately afterwards how much they have been awarded, and from whom.
Don't forget that, if you got a grant in 2015, you need to make at least two reports on progress to those who supported you. If you're behind on that, and you have applied for funding again this year, now's the time to get cracking and bring your reporting up to date, if you want to be considered for this year.
(Incidentally, so that there is no danger of any applicant's financial security being threatened, the application form for 2017 grants will not ask for any financial information. Only if your application is successful will we ask for that info to be sent directly to us under separate email.)
The last couple of months have been fairly full-on. The week after the deadline of 11th December was incredibly busy as we tried to process all the applications, then the following week, our elder daughter Sarah was admitted to hospital with a severe chest infection. In the end, she was in for more than two weeks over Christmas, just getting out again on the 9th January.
She was fairly sick, and needed a lot of very strong antibiotics to bring her back. She lost 20% of her body weight, going from about 70lbs to 54lbs. Praise God, she is recovering very well now. Thank you to those who knew about her situation and prayed for her. Emma was also home from Bristol for Christmas, but I'm afraid it wasn't a brilliant one for her either, as we had to spend a lot of time to and fro-ing to the hospital.
Following that, I had two trips to try and raise finances, to USA in January and Australia at the start of this month, both to meet with people who were interested in hearing more about the Foundation. Dr John , one of our Partners (right in the photo below) very kindly accompanied me. Some interesting developments have already come out of those trips and meetings.
One was with a major car dealer in Denver, who promised to become involved in 2017, but also to look at one or two applications that interested him this year if the Inland Revenue Service was kind!
The other was a couple in Dallas, Texas, who liked the model a lot, and are praying about whether to participate, and perhaps, to invite some of their friends to do the same.
In Australia, one meeting was in Sydney, with a Foundation whose Principal liked the model, and might perhaps become involved in helping us to "scale up" significantly.
In Perth, Western Australia, we met with someone well-known to many in YFC. Rob Greaves served for some years as Chairman of the International Board of YFC, and it was great to see him again and to find that he still has a strong heart for the organisation and its work.
Asia-Pacific Area Director David Bonanno and his wife Jill very kindly hosted us and set up our schedule, which involved a lot of Aussie-style hospitality - no hardship to us at all!
Dr John and I also had the privilege of speaking in David & Jill's church, HillSide, in Forrestfield, and spending time afterwards with Pastor Kerry Pearce (right) and his family. They were exceedingly kind to us, and of course, there was a lady from Northern Ireland in the congregation. We Irish get around everywhere!
We have spent time in this newsletter talking about the role of the Project Partners, but there are two other sets of Partners also - both at least as important: those who pray for the Foundation and those who enable its work.
The Prayer Partners uphold us regularly in prayer - and boy, do we need it! Knowing myself somewhat, it is a humbling mystery that God is willing to do anything through me. Also, this letter has probably highlighted for you how much my family needs continual covering in prayer. (And of course, since this is spiritual work, you can be very sure that the satanic enemies and powers of darkness will do everything they can to disrupt and destroy. They are not playing games.)
The Enabling Partners are those faithful individuals, churches and companies who give towards the costs of running the Foundation - the office expenses, salaries, travel, printing, etc. it is no exaggeration to say that it couldn't continue without them.
We are profoundly grateful for both, and our dependence on you will only increase, especially if we do accept the challenges of growth. That will likely require more people working here and in other places. More perhaps on that in a later newsletter.
Meantime, every good blessing in all your work and ministry for the Lord, and let's pull together so that the words of our YFC vision may be realised:
"As part of the Body of Christ, to see that every young person in every people group in every nation has the opportunity to make an informed decision to be a follower of Jesus Christ and become part of a local church." (Italics mine).
If you want to see more detail on what the Foundation does, read some of the reports, see what was given last year, etc, go to www.foundationforthenations.org
With warmest regards in Christ.
PS: In case you missed it, one of the most unusual and historic meetings of the century took place on 12th February this year - in fact, you could say: of the last 1,000 years! There wasn't much about it in the media that I saw (perhaps religious news doesn't sell papers) but what these two leaders said was a powerful antidote to the headlong rush towards secularism in many countries, and the attempts to sideline God and the Bible from having any part in public life - as well as a call for Christianity to be heard on some of the biggest moral issues of our times.
Pope Francis, leader of the worldwide Roman Catholic church, met the leader of the largest denomination of the Eastern Orthodox church, Patriarch Kirill, in Cuba. Believe it or not, the meeting was the first encounter between a Roman Catholic pope and a Russian Orthodox patriarch in the nearly 1,000 years since Eastern Orthodoxy split bitterly with Rome in 1054.
Leaving aside the rumours that the meeting suited Russian President Vladimir Putin and would not have happened without his approval, the joint declaration which they issued was very powerful. Apart from the Catholic references at the end, many evangelicals will probably find common cause with most of it, as it deals with issues such as protection of the unborn, religious freedom, the war in Syria, the persecution of Christians around the world and particularly in the Middle-East, sexuality and gender, militant Islam, etc. You can read the full Declaration here: http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2016/02/12/joint_declaration_of_pope_francis_and_patriarch_kirill/1208117