I heard somewhere that November is some type of blogging month. You’re supposed to write 1,000 every day of the month for some reason. To me that would begin to scare readers away. I mean what could one possibly write every day that would keep readers attention? Well maybe some people are exciting enough to keep that kind of attention but it would be difficult for me to believe that you guys would read a post from me everyday so I will continue to shoot for two a week. Of course if a lot of you write me to tell me you can’t wait until the next post, perhaps I would change my mind!
So what to write about today? Furlough Ministries, or whatever it will end up being called! (You guys should begin to think of cool names for this new ministry. Send them to me and I will set up a poll – those are always fun!)
After I was forced to close my business earlier this year I wasn’t sure what to do next. I had a few different opportunities and ultimately landed with Private Family Banking. Prior to that, I was approached by a good friend with an outline of his dream of starting a ministry to provide missionaries with dependable, nice quality cars, trucks, and vans. His vision is to provide these at affordable prices to missionaries who are home on furlough, hence the name Furlough Ministries. His vision actually takes on a bigger picture than just transportation. Among other things, he has a hope to provide hands on training to young people who are pursuing a career in the automotive repair industry, perhaps even some type of apprenticeship or scholarship program. When he approached me with the idea, I was not terribly excited about the possibilities or the opportunity. Quite the opposite, I was not at all certain there was even a need and I really didn’t want to get involved. Regardless, as a good friend I owed him a solid effort to give some thought to his dream.
Over the next few months I did a little research. What I found out surprised me and I began to build a little interest in his idea. As I began to learn more about the need it has become quite clear that the need is quite a bit larger than I ever imagined. Living in NE Wisconsin it is quite important to have a car or two. They are relatively easy to acquire and are in great supply. It’s easy to take independent transportation for granted. However, for missionaries, many who don’t have a permanent address here in the States, it is much more complex, difficult, and sometimes seemingly impossible. As it turns out, we have a unique opportunity to use our resources and start a new ministry as a full time auto shop!
As more and more research was done things began to take shape. We started to reach out to other people who are providing a similar service to other parts of the Country. One organization we spoke with last week was very excited to hear about our efforts because there is a significant need in the northern part of the Midwest. (St. Louis and Indianapolis are covered reasonably well with already established automotive ministries.) Another organization we spoke to was also very excited as they have 60 cars and are booked solid through July of 2016!
For all of my life cars have been pretty important to me. As far back as I can remember my dad was restoring cars. The first one I remember working on with him was a 1966 GTO convertible. I can still remember the smell of the paint remover that we used as well as riding in it after it was done. It had a 389, tri-power, 4 speed, power antenna, and even a factory 8 track! It was always fun when he would do a burnout! Most recently I restored a 1957 Chevrolet pickup. (It had to be sold this spring and I sure miss it!) I absolutely love cars of many kinds. I used to be a Pontiac only guy, then it was GM only, and now I appreciate all kinds of different cars. The idea that perhaps God is leading me into a ministry that would give me the opportunity to help further the spread of his Gospel through the automotive industry is very cool!
Over the last month or so things have started to come together. We have developed two very different business models. These of course need to be dissected, re-worked, discussed and molded into a final plan. We have a pretty solid start to a budget but it needs more scrutiny and fine tuning. We even have a car that is ready to go. We even have missionaries in Europe who have heard about our efforts and have contacted us with preliminary requests! Even so there are still a few major decisions that need to be made, the biggest is funding. If you think about it, please pray for wisdom and clear guidance for us as we try to understand how God wants us to move forward specifically in the area of finance. Hopefully if everything goes according to our time table, we will be up and running by the 1st of June next year.
The coming months are of course the most critical. In the next few days I am meeting with a local school administrator and hopefully with FVTC to begin the process of planning a training program. We have reached out to an attorney to begin the process of structuring the appropriate legal entity. Next month we are planning a visit to at least one of the organizations that is already up and running. Our hope is to visit at least two or three places and talk to the men and women who are running them to learn from their experience. I plan to be able to update you sometime after our first visit. In the meantime, would you please share this post with all of your friends who know overseas missionaries or have a heart to the spread of the Gospel? Thanks everyone!